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Rotary Club of Manassas plans Steins, Wines & Spirits Festival

SteinsWinesSpriritsv

Submitted: 

The Rotary Club of Manassas will be hosting a unique festival in the heart of Historic Downtown Manassas. The Manassas Steins, Wines & Spirits Festival will be an opportunity to sample your choice in beverage while listening to live music at the Harris Pavilion on Sunday, October 9th from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.

You will enjoy sampling your favorite drinks from a variety of local craft breweries; wine from local wineries; and distilled spirits from local distilleries. The festival will feature great food from some of the best food vendors in Northern Virginia. Live bluegrass, jazz, and blues will fill the pavilion and surrounding streets as you enjoy time with friends. There is plenty of parking and the event is under cover, so it is rain or shine.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be used by the Rotary Club of Manassas for charitable contributions within our local community. Last year, the Club provided over $80,000 in support to locally based charities, and students. A partial listing of organizations supported by the Rotary Club of Manassas over the past 12 months include:
CASA
SERVE (part of NVSF)
Prosperity House
Salvation Army
Georgetown South WIC Program
Birmingham Green
Medical Missionaries
Boy Scouts local troop
Manassas City Police Association
Student Scholarships

Music lineup:
Noon – 1:30 pm Sweet Yonder (bluegrass)
1:45 – 3:15 pm Bruno Nasta (Jazz Violinist)
3:30 – 5:00 pm Anthony Swamp Dog Clark (Blues)

Food Vendors:
Tortoise & Hare
Black Fig Pizza
Fork’d by the Apple House

Our goal is to attract over 600 participants from all over northern Virginia to this exciting inaugural festival.

You can get your tickets today at www.Manassassteinswinesfestival.eventbrite.com
*Taster Pass: $30 in advance/$35 at the door
*Couples Pass: $50 (couples passes not available at the door)
*VIP Pass: $80 in advance/$90 at the door. VIP Pass includes: extra tastings, complimentary water, tented area with guaranteed seating, wine & food pairings.

WHEN: Sunday October 9th, 2016, Noon to 5:00pm
WHERE: Harris Pavilion, 9201 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110
WHO: Contact Don Kline at 703-331-1284, info@klineengineered.com

Major Sponsors of the Festival:

Apple Federal Credit Union
East to West Embroidery & Design
Kline Engineering & Consulting, LLC
Planet Auto Wash
QMT Windchimes
Stone Center
Weber Rector Commercial Real Estate Services

News
Meet, greet, and hear the candidates for Manassas City Council questioned at Sept. 28 forum

manassascandidates

Candidates running for a seat on the Manassas City Council will gather on Wednesday, Sept. 28 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at City Hall for a candidates forum.

Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser will moderate the discussion.

More in a press release from Historic Manassas Inc. 

Historic Manassas, Inc. in conjunction with the Old Town Business Association, will be hosting a City Council Forum on Wednesday, September 28 from 5:30 – 8:00 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall (located at 9027 Center Street) in Manassas. This year, seven candidates are competing for three open council seats. There will also be two candidates running for City Treasurer while Mayor Hal Parrish is running unopposed.

Candidates will have a chance to do meet and greets from 5:30 – 6:00 PM and introductions will begin promptly at 6:00PM. A local moderator will moderate the forum with three candidates responding to each question followed by closing remarks no later than 8:00 PM.

Residents and community members are invited to submit questions to the forum on HMI’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/manassas/ before September 25th. The forum is open to the public and will be streamed on Facebook Live.

Here’s a Manassas City sample ballot to be used in the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election.

 

News
Bret Michaels’ guitarist is opening a new candle shop in Downtown Manassas

shiningsol

The ribbon cutting for this new shop, located at 9109 Center Street in Manassas, will take place 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. 

Submitted: 

Historic Manassas, Inc. will host a ribbon cutting ceremony to welcome Shining Sol Candle Company to Historic Downtown Manassas on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 5:00pm.

Shining Sol Candle Company was founded in 2012 by Manassas native and resident, Pete Evick, an award winning musician, producer and author. The company formation came while Pete was on break from a nine month tour of the United States as the guitar player and music director for rock icon Bret Michaels, with whom he’s performed with for the last 12 years.

As an advocate of ‘going green’, Evick decided to use soy wax and wooden wicks allowing them to source all of their ingredients from farms across America. As the company grew, Evick enlisted the expertise of Sara Rodriguiz to continue moving the company forward with new candle scents as Evick returned to tour. Shining Sol’s newest partner is Deron Blevins, a local Manassas native and childhood friend of Evick. Blevins has since strengthened Shining Sol’s web development, graphic design and marketing.

Shining Sol Candle Company is thrilled to open their first retail location here in Historic Downtown Manassas.

News
Manassas Democrats education plan: Keep teachers, renovate Dean Elementary, and to get the City Council and School Board to play nicely together

manassasdemocrats

Submitted by Manassas Democrats: 

Education is a key focus of the slate of Democratic candidates running for Manassas City Council.

Each of the candidates running – Rex Parr, Pam Sebesky, and Mark Wolfe – has already worked to improve education in Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS). Together they have announced four key initiatives to continue MCPS’s upward trend.

The Democrats’ first goal is universal Pre-K education. “Pre-K is the key to future workforce development,” says Sebesky, a six-year member of the MCPS School Board. “It’s essential that all students have access to quality Pre-K, no matter what their circumstances are, so they can be successful in their educational careers.”

To that end, Sebesky as a member of the MCPS School Board pushed for the adoption of the Footsteps2Brilliance® program. The Model Innovation City™ service is a turn-key, citywide literacy solution that utilizes the Footsteps2Brilliance® mobile technology platform to cost-effectively scale a Pre-school through 3rd grade literacy app to every family within the Manassas City Public Schools jurisdiction. Students study comprehension, critical thinking skills, writing, book creation, standards-based skill development, mathematics development, and vocabulary mastery. Through a toggle switch, students and families also have access to the content in Spanish.

Parr is former CEO of Didlake, Inc. and active member of EDGE Manassas, a group of local business owners and CEOs working directly with MCPS to improve local workforce readiness. He was one of four original benefactors who together purchased all mobile devices necessary for economically disadvantaged children to access Footsteps2Brilliance® in the 2015-16 school year, the pilot year.

“Now we need to leverage last year’s investment,” says Parr. “We need to increase the number of children and parents participating in the program, and keep the success going as they progress through our schools.”

That, says Parr, is where the City Council comes in. “For too long, the City Council has been detached from the School Board and schools. Lately, the local business community said this separation was no longer acceptable. The business community had to come in and give attention to the schools.

Wolfe agrees, from his position as current City Council member, having served for eight years. “That division of City Council and schools has to change. City Council has to partner with the School Board. We will do that.”

Support for the school system’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is the second education initiative for the Democrat candidates.

As both a local businessman and Council member, Wolfe is working to bring the City Council and MCPS into alignment. His company is providing free training as part of Osbourn High School’s CTE offerings. “We are partnering with local firms in the trades, creating apprentice programs,” he says.

Osbourn High School’s CTE program has recently been revamped and revitalized,” says Sebesky. “Our students need to graduate into a living wage job,” and so she worked through the School Board and with MCPS for newly strengthened certificate programs in HVAC, construction management, CISCO networking, food service management, automotive repair, and cosmetology.

“Our need for workforce development drove the construction management certificate,” adds Sebesky. “With the rapidly growing Northern Virginia area, students will now get relevant work experience, and with certifications they will earn better wages and have better career opportunities.”

“We have also developed externships for teachers,” says Parr, “where teachers spend time in local businesses to stay current with the job skills that better prepare students for jobs after graduation.” From his experience running a locally based business, Parr notes, “For teachers, the mission is to educate kids. For businesses, it’s for schools to develop a workforce. That could be a division, but in Manassas we are going to work together to generate mutual, achievable goals, which will better our residents and our City.”

The three Democrat candidates also support capital improvement of Manassas City Public Schools.

“Jennie Dean Elementary School outlived its useful life many years ago,” says Wolfe. “That project is in the 2020 capital plan, and we will explore that in 2019.”

Sebesky agrees, and based on her experience on the School Board, adds, “Improvement – basic renovations – will cost almost as much as to build a new building.”

“We can’t kick that can down the road anymore,” says Wolfe. “A new school is in the debt service program, but we need the tax rate to fund the debt service program. We need leadership on the next City Council to get that handled, finally.”

And finally, Parr, Sebesky, and Wolfe support retention of Manassas City Public Schools’ teaching and administrative staff. We have excellent teachers,” says Parr, “and we need to keep them.”

“Our goal is to make our salary and benefits packages competitive with all of the other school districts in Northern Virginia,” says Wolfe.The quality of our schools is critical to the success of the City of Manassas,” he says. “Better educated kids means less crime. Better schools means higher home values. A better educated workforce means greater economic development.”

“We are making Manassas a community of choice. We compete for businesses and families. We [Wolfe, Parr, and Sebesky] will make Manassas the City where people choose to make their homes, and establish their businesses, says Wolfe.

 
 

News
All Manassas school buses now have stop-arm cameras

manassasschoolbus

Submitted: 

Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS) and the Manassas City Police Department (MCPD) are partnering together with Force Multiplier Solution, Inc. to address the growing problem of illegal and unsafe passing of school buses. All MCPS school buses have been outfitted with a stop-arm camera system for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

BusGuard mounts cameras and sensors on the side of the school bus. When the stop arm is deployed, the sensors automatically detect a vehicle illegally passing the stop-arm in both directions and captures video of the violation including the vehicle’s license plate. The video and corresponding images will then be reviewed by the MCPD for approval prior to a citation being issued. In Virginia, the penalty for a stop-arm camera violation will warrant the vehicle’s owner a civil penalty fine of $250.00. No points will be added to the violator’s license.

Force Multiplier is a national leader in school bus safety programs and was approved by the School Board after extensive review and comparison to other vendors in the field. The system provides GPS capabilities, six cameras on the inside of the bus, two camera boxes on the outside of the bus, panic button for emergency use, and real time video and voice communication.  The camera systems are designed to increase the safety of all students while entering/exiting the bus as well as while they are on the bus. 

All MCPS buses are fully equipped with the Force Multiplier equipment at no cost to the school division.  The program is fully funded by the stop-arm citation payments.  As the new procedures are being introduced, warning citations will be issued through September 26, 2016. The issuance of official citations will begin after that date.

MCPS school buses transport approximately 5,000 students on 60 buses to and from school each day. The installation of this program is a very important additional component in the school division’s quest to ensure the health and safety of all students. The School Board of the City of Manassas, in cooperation with local government partners, has approved this safety plan to encourage members of the community to abide by state law by stopping when a school bus is loading/unloading students.

News
Todd Lupton is the new Manassas Fire and Rescue Department Deputy Chief

Todd Lupton Web

Submitted: 

After an extensive search of highly qualified applicants, Fire and Rescue Chief Rob Clemons announced today the selection of Todd E. Lupton as Deputy Chief of Fire and Rescue for the City of Manassas.   Lupton has been with the City of Manassas Fire and Rescue System since 2011, serving as Battalion Chief.

“In the five years Todd has been with the City, he has helped the EMS services grow to become award winning,” said Chief Clemons. “I believe Todd has the leadership and management qualities that will help him excel as a Deputy Chief in our Department and for our Fire Service.”

Lupton has more than 18 years of Fire and Rescue experience. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Fire Science Administration from Waldorf College, and an Associates Degree in EMS Technology from Northern Virginia Community College. Lupton has achieved the Designation of Chief Fire Officer and Chief EMS Officer through the Commission on Professional Credentialing. He is currently certified as a Fire Officer IV and a National Registered Paramedic. 

During his career he has served at every rank to include serving several times as an Interim Fire Chief.  Lupton was named EMS Administrator of the year in 2013 by the Northern Virginia EMS Council.

“Todd has a great range of experiences with Fire and Rescue Services and with combined volunteer and career systems,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate.  “I know Chief Clemons is looking forward to having Deputy Chief Lupton as a member of his management team.”

News
Manassas area man waits 2 weeks before claiming $5 million lotto prize

lottery scratcher

From the Virginia Lottery: 

When Chris Edwards discovered he’d won the $5 million top prize in the Virginia Lottery’s 50X the Money game, he didn’t jump up and down and shout. Instead, he went to where his wife was asleep, kissed her and quietly said, “I just won $5 million!”

“No, that can’t be right!” she said.

But it was true. The Manassas man won the game’s top prize with a ticket he bought at Giant Food, 8025 Sudley Road in Manassas.

He had a choice of taking the full $5 million in annual payments over 30 years or a one-time cash option of $2,808,989 before taxes. He chose the cash option. The store receives a $10,000 bonus from the Virginia Lottery for selling the winning ticket.

50X the Money (game #1612) is one of dozens of games available from the Virginia Lottery. It features prizes ranging from $20 up to $5 million. This is the second top prize claimed in game #1612, which means one more has yet to be claimed. The chances of winning the top prize are 1 in 1,632,000. The odds of winning any prize in this game are 1 in 3.07.

Mr. Edwards waited two weeks before claiming his prize so that he could seek professional financial advice. He said he plans to invest and take care of his family.

News
Live in Manassas? Here are some important dates to note as election nears

cityhall1

Submitted: 

The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election is Oct. 17, 2016 by 5 p.m.

·         The City of Manassas Voter Registration Office, located at 9025 Center St., Manassas, will be open for in-person absentee voting Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Friday, Sept. 23

·         The Voter Registration Office will be open two Saturdays for in-person absentee voting: Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

·         The last day to vote absentee in-person is Nov. 5, 2016 for the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election.

·         The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

News
Taste of Prince William County is Saturday at Manassas Mall

manassasmall

From Virginia StrEats: 

Manassas, VA, September 14th, 2016 – The Taste of Prince William County will occur on Saturday, September 24th, 2016 from 11AM-7PM at Manassas Mall in the Sears parking lot located at 8300 Sudley Road in Manassas, Virginia. The Taste of Prince William County is planned by VA StrEats, Northern Virginia’s premier producer of food truck events. This community event will feature local craft beers and spirits with plenty of live, local music including a Kids Stage.

The event is FREE to attend! For the craft beer & spirits lovers, drink ticket packages are now on-sale at Freshtix and cost $12 ($3 savings) for Full Pour Beer 3-Pack and $25 for Brew Crew Sampling for unlimited 4 oz. samples. Ticket prices will increase on the day of the event. Beer will be on-sale at the event for just $5. Beer options will include BadWolf Brewing, Ballast Point Sculpin, Firestone Walker Easy Jack, Parkway Majestic Mullet, Smuttynose old Brown Dog, Green Flash Passion Kicker, Left Hand Milk Stout, Crispin Blackberry Pear, and Narragansset.  Over 15 food vendors are expected to attend this event from across Prince William County and the DMV area. The event is sponsored by the New Manassas Mall and Sears.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit No Kid Hungry. Share Our Strength® is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry.

Drink tickets can be purchased online at https://www.freshtix.com/events/pwctaste

Attendees can RSVP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1659863534270717/

For more information on The Taste of Prince William County call Jacque Pitts, event organizer, at (202) 768-6676 or at info@VAStrEats.com.

Manassas Façade, Landscape grants encourage business owners to reinvest in properties

manassasgrandopen

With its historic heart and modern beat, Manassas has a charm all its own.  

It is a place where Fortune 500 companies and small entrepreneurial businesses alike, can thrive and grow.   There is an authenticity that allures those searching for a place to call home, a place to establish roots and positively contribute to the fabric of what makes Manassas so special.  

Manassas has become “the place to be.”  It would be easy to sit back and bask in the glow of this success but the City realizes that it cannot rest its economic future based solely on market factors.  It must make the retention and expansion of its existing business community a priority; they are the lifeblood of Manassas. 

For many years the City has strategically used its business incentives program to both encourage the expansion of existing businesses as well as attract new companies.   Tax deferrals, abatements and other offsets have been used as a way to encourage job creation and capital investment by the private sector.   These programs have been targeted mostly at expansion and new investment with companies needing to add employees, build or lease additional space and purchase new equipment.  For those businesses that wanted to make investments in cosmetic repairs to their buildings or beautify their properties with enhanced landscaping, the City had nothing to offer.

As part of City Council’s strategic initiatives to enhance economic opportunity and a sense of place, two new incentive programs have been created as part of the FY2017 Budget.  The new programs allow the City to support its existing business community and to show them the appreciation held for their role in making Manassas special.  

With the adoption of the budget, City Council approved expanding its incentives to include two pilot incentive programs; a Façade Improvement Grant Program and a Landscape Improvement Grant Program.  These incentives will assist with the exterior renovations and landscaping of existing commercial or industrial properties and require no expansion.  

The new initiatives are designed to encourage business owners to reinvest in properties throughout the City and serve as a redevelopment tool intended to bring new life to older structures.  Each pilot program has been allocated $50,000 and property owners must agree to invest $2 for every $1 the City invests.

Attractive building facades and landscapes can have a significant effect on the value and marketability of surrounding areas, and drive up foot traffic as a result.  In addition to achieving the City’s goals of supporting local businesses and improving the appearance of the community, similar programs in other localities have resulted in increased property values and spurred adjacent property owners to make similar investments regardless of whether or not grant funding is involved.  Rising property values and successful businesses provide a return on investment to the City through enhanced tax revenues.

The City’s incentive package is tailored to meet the individual needs of the applicant, based upon specific criteria.  For additional information on the program please go to www.manassascity.org/incentives or contact the City’s Economic Development Department at 703-257-8881.

News
KO Distilling to celebrate 1 year in business

KO-Distilling-Stacked-logo-10-13-15.ai

Submitted: 

On Saturday, September 17th from 12:00-6:00 p.m. we will be hosting our 1st Anniversary Open House to celebrate our first year of operations.  It is our way of giving back to the local community, our loyal followers, business partners, and family and friends.  We encourage you and yours to come by our distillery that day.  We will provide complimentary admission, free guided tours, live music (a DJ and local performers Leon Rector and Harlen Simple), face painting and lawn games.  Tickets for meals (provided by Okra’s Cajun Creole), local beer (from BadWolf, Heritage and Tin Cannon Brewing companies), KO Distilling spirits tastings, and VIP packages will be available for purchase.    
 
We look forward to you, others from your business, and your family and friends coming out to celebrate with us — RAIN OR SHINE, as we have an outside Food & Beer Garden with a big tent to complement our 2,500 sq ft visitors center that day.  
Last month, KO Distilling announced it would triple production at its Manassas facility, and hire six new employees with the help of local and state grants.

Two Manassas Soroptimists recognized for 40 Years of membership

Moore, Latimer and Simms

Manassas, VA—Soroptimist International of Manassas recognized two of its members for forty years of membership in the local volunteer organization. Audrey Moore of Manassas and Linda Simms of Nokesville were both presented with a pin at the club’s recent membership meeting.

Founded in 1956, the Manassas club is part of Soroptimist International of the Americas, a global organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Manassas members join with almost 80,000 Soroptimists in about 120 countries and territories to support community-based projects benefiting women and girls.

Moore and Simms have been active in the club’s programs since joining. Soroptimist’s current major program is the Live Your Dream Award, which is an annual grant for a woman w! ho is the primary breadwinner for her family and is seeking additional education or training. The Manassas club also provides regular support for the ACTS Safe House through donations of food and hygiene items. Reflecting on her involvement in the club, Moore said, “The club puts a lot into the community, and I get a lot out of being a member. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Soroptimist International of Manassas president Vicki Latimer made the presentation. [pictured] Simms said after receiving her pin, “Little did I know when joining this club that I would be a member for forty years. I joined because my employer encouraged their managers to be involved in community service. Soroptimist has been a perfect fit for me. I formed friendships immediately and have found being involved in community outreach to be personally rewarding.”

For more information about Soroptimist International of Manassas, please contact info@simanassas.org.

News
Manassas to pay $1.9 million for failed trailer park, families displaced

eastendresidents

Manassas City officials agreed to pay $1.9 million for a property that is now home to a trailer park with a failed water and sewer system.

The water and sewer system at the East End Mobile Home Park, located 9021 and 9021A Centreville Road failed. The current owner of the property did not make the needed repairs to the water and sewer system and agreed to sell the property to the city.

More than 300 people who make up the families who live in the 58 trailers at the park will lose their homes. Notices posted today on doors at the trailer park by the current property owner East End Mobile Home Park, LLC give the residents six months to vacate their trailers.

On Thursday, city officials will distribute notices in English and in Spanish to inform residents of the city’s purchase of the property. The city plans to hold an informational meeting for mobile home park residents on September 7 or 8, officials said.

The trailer park is home to multiple Hispanic families who came to speak about the issue at the Aug. 22 Manassas City Council meeting. With the help of an English-speaking 10-year-old boy, residents told City Council members they were scared and confused about what was going to happen to their homes, and that they had not been given any information about the sale from the trailer park owner.

Residents of the trailer park had been represented by Maryland-based CASA, an organization tasked with “improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities,” according to its website. Organization spokeswoman Fernanda Durand on Thursday, Aug. 25 told PotomacLocal.com that the organization, nor the residents of the trailer park wish to speak to the press.

In an about-face, the organization held a late-afternoon news conference at the trailer park on Monday. PotomacLocal.com learned of the press conference only moments before it was to begin and was not able to attend.

The water and sewer issues at the East End Trailer Park date back to 2008.

“The sewer system is failing, and has failed, the property owner was told to fix the system for years and did not,” said Manassas City Economic Development Director Patrick Small.

City officials retain the authority to go to the trailer park and close it immediately due to health code violations, but will not.

“If the city went in and shut down the trailer park and enforced the laws and ordinances we have on the books, it would immediately displace 60 families,” said Small. “What is important now is that we have an orderly transition of residents moving our and finding new homes rather than turning the water sewer off.”

At the August 22 Manassas City Council meeting, a representative from CASA told PotomacLocal.com residents were working with the city to receive up to $1,200 of financial assistance per family, for each displaced family. That claim was incorrect, said Small, because there is, to date, no city assistance fund for displaced families.

Once the families move away and the trailers removed, the trailers will be removed, and the city will clean up the failed water and sewer system. Afterward, the city may choose to develop the properly or sell the land.

Currently, the failed sewer system collects hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater each time it rains. That water is then mixed with sewage and then sent to the Upper Occoquan Service Authority for treatment.

“Instead of sending only sewage, were also sending stormwater and that can overwhelm the system,” added Small.

News
Manassas shops for new voting machines, considers new precinct

manassas-city-precinct

For voters in Manassas City, what’s old is new again. 

The city will use optical scanner voting machines starting with the November 2017 Election. The machines will use paper ballots, then will insert them into the ballot machine to be counted.

“If a recount is needed, the paper ballot allows us to determine the true intention of the voter,” said Manassas City General Registrar Susan Reed. 

City officials budgeted $95,000 for the new voting machines,  which will replace the old touch-screen voting machines placed into use in 2000, and older pull-lever machines. The purchase of the new machines will probably cost more than what is budgeted, said Manassas Electoral Board Secretary Patricia Fields. 

A state mandate that requires localities the switch back to paper ballots makes the machines a must-do purchase. The state does not supply funds for the purchase, she added.

Reed and members of the city’s Electoral Board had two machines on display at Monday night’s City Council meeting. The Board is testing devices from two vendors — one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. 

The vendor that is awarded the contract for the machines will also be responsible for printing custom ballots for each election. The information on the ballots will be reviewed by the Electoral Board, as well as the candidates listed before printing. 

Last year, Prince William County made the switch to optical scanning machines. The printed ballots listed the full names of candidates. However, some candidates said they would rather have their nickname on the ballot instead. 

Ultimately, the county decided not to reprint ballots. In Manassas, Reed said the information that will appear on city ballots next year would come directly from the State Office of Elections.

The new machines could be in the city as early as Jan 1. Afterward, the Electoral Board aims to hold a series of public meetings to demonstrate how the new optical scanning machines work.

The City Council on Monday night also approved reviewed the proposed creation of the city’s sixth voting precinct. The council is expected to approve the new precinct in 2017, after the 2016 Presidential Election.

Rising population in surrounding voting precincts is the driving force behind creating the new polling area. Voters in the new precinct will vote at George C. Round Elementary School, which is not currently being used as a polling place. 

Voters will be notified by the General Registrar’s office if their polling place changes. 

The average population for a voting precinct is about 4,000 residents. The Weems Precinct is the exception to the rule with about 4,300 registered voters. 

With less development planned in the Weems Precinct than other in city precincts, Fields said she isn’t concerned about the higher number of voters in Weems.

News
Reforms for Manassas City EDA call for more clarity, financial accountability

cityhall1

Members of the Manassas City Economic Development Authority said their funds were left unprotected when the Board’s treasurer resigned two weeks ago, and he retained the ability to withdraw authority funds.

Alvin White’s resigned from his post term on the EDA expired after being elected to serve in January as its treasurer. He was appointed by the Manassas City Council to serve a four-year term that began in 2011.

When the city’s EDA met on Tuesday, August 16, White’s name was still listed on a signature card giving him the ability to walk into any of three banks used by the city’s EDA and withdraw funds, according to sitting Board members. There is no evidence White made such a withdraw following his resignation from the EDA.

EDA members called for an immediate fix to what they called a potential risk.

“Mr. Chariman, I think you should have called a special meeting to rectify this situation. I think our funds are left unprotected because he can still walk in there and write a check,” said EDA Board member Mark Olsen.

“I just can’t walk in there and tell the bank to take his name off. They don’t know me,” replied Manassas City EDA Chairman Holmes Smith.

The EDA keeps funds in Carter Bank and Trust, Fulton Bank, and BB&T.

Gary L. Jones, vice president of business banking at M&T Bank, replaced White on the EDA and said the matter could be cleared up by just writing a letter.

“You can go into with a letter and as the head of the authority and ask for his name to be removed,” Jones told Smith.

The lapse in security comes at the same time the EDA was presented with a set of new rules that would bring the autonomous grant-making authority more in line with other Boards and Commissions that operate in the city.

City Economic Development Director Patrick Small, who reports to the EDA but does not oversee the Board, spent an hour outlining a five-page memo detailing 82 recommended administrative guidelines outlining how the EDA should function, as well as provide more transparency for its annual budget, and record-keeping policies.

If the Board decides to approve them the recommendations, they must adhere to them all.

“This is not an a la carte menu,” explained Small. “Our expectation… our hope is that you adopt this document, and the city staff will begin to provide these services to you.”

The EDA is tasked by the state government to awards grant to city businesses to spur economic development in Manassas. The EDA operates outside the authority of the City Council, whose members only have the ability to appoint constituents to the EDA.

In his memo, Small asserted that EDA funds are public dollars and that they should be “handled and accounted for with the same care that the City of Manassas takes with its own public funds.”

Right now, the EDA’s treasurer is responsible for issuing and accounting for the Authority’s funds. While the accounts containing the funds would remain the property of the EDA, and monies would not be mixed with the city’s general fund, allowing the City Treasurer to issue checks on behalf of the EDA, and perform basic accounting services would provide a better level of security and transparency, said Small.

The memo also called for the EDA to develop and adopt an annual budget on the same schedule as the city’s budget, provide an agenda for upcoming meetings, and make public the minutes of those meetings.

EDA members also got a lesson on email communications and, specifically, what emails the public can request through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and read by members of the public and press.

“If you don’t want to see it in the [news]paper, don’t write it,” the memo states. 

Small suggested EDA members only use email for informational purposes, and to copy his office on each piece of email correspondence. This way said Small, if someone requests, through FIOA, to read an EDA members email, software on his computer can quickly search those emails and provide them to the person making the FOIA request.

“We don’t have conversations electronically,” said Manassas City Councilwoman Sheryl Bass, who also serves on the EDA. ” It’s for informational purposes only. That is what you should be doing as well. If there is something that is going on that you are alerted to, you pick up the old-fashioned phone and have a conversation, or go for coffee.

Homes ordered EDA members to review the newly proposed policies and to be prepared to take a vote on them at the next meeting. A meeting date and time has not yet been established. 

News
KO Distillery to triple production at Manassas facility, hire 6 new employees

kodistilling

KO Distilling will triple its production of gin, white and bourbon whiskeys in its Manassas facility in the coming year thanks to the help of state and local grants.

Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Secretary Todd Haymore joined the founders of KO Distillery Bill Karlson and John O’Mara and the Manassas City Council on Tuesday where two checks totaling $50,000 in state and city funds were presented to support the distillery’s expansion.

KO will soon source all of its corn, wheat, and rye used in the production of its products from in-state producers. The local monies awarded come from a city economic development fund while state monies awarded are from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.

The fund was developed under former Gov. Robert McDonnell in 2010 and is used to spur the growth of agriculture business, which includes distilleries. Of the 38 AFID grants awarded by the state since the fund’s creation, a total of 11 has been awarded to businesses in the brewing sector.

“If you told me when we created AFID that it would be for brewing, I would have told you that would be highly unlikely,” said Haymore, who made his remarks before leaving for a scheduled trade mission to Columbia with current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The number of distilleries that focus on liquor production and brewers that craft beers have increased in recent years not only in the region but also in the state. With 270 wineries and more than 150 craft breweries, Virginia has become known for being “destination for craft brews,” added Haymore.

KO Distilling opened its doors a year and a half ago in an industrial complex on Central Park Drive, off Godwin Drive in Manassas. Karlson said he chose the site over other locations in neighboring Prince William County due to the size of the building, which now houses a distillery, tasting, and bottling rooms.

The $50,000 in total grant monies — $25,000 from the city and $25,000 from the state — will allow the company to hire six new employees to work in the distillery. The increased production will mean KO will use 300,000 tons of grain per year to produce its product, up from the 100,000 tons it uses today.

Following the ramp-up in production of spirits, Karlson told Haymore the company would soon look to export its products to markets overseas.

The distillery will hold a one-year anniversary celebration that is open to the public at its tasting room located at 10381 Central Park Drive on September 12, 2016.

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