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Manassas Local

Man wanted after robbing BP station in Manassas

News

On the evening of May 2, Prince William police responded to a call at the BP Service Station on Sudley Road in Manassas for a robbery.

A Prince William police release said that employees told officers that the suspect entered the service station and approached the counter. At the counter, the suspect displayed a handgun and demanded money and cigarettes from the cashier, said Prince William police.

No one was injured.

A K-9 unit was used to look for the suspect, who is still at-large.

According to Prince William police, the suspect is being described as a white male between 25 and 29-years old, 5’7”, 150 pounds with a thin build and tattoos on his neck and hand.

He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with “Virginia” written on it in white letters, gray sweatpants, black shoes and a black hat with “K” written on the front.

The Prince William police are asking residents with any information to come forward.

Here’s the scoop on Cinco de Mayo festivities

News

11149356_882783895113745_4902485986083669719_nTo kick off the evening’s Cinco de Mayo festivities, there are several restaurants in the area with food and drink specials.

Prince William

El Charro – 2893 Dale Blvd, Woodbridge, VA
El Charro is offering any two of their bottled beers for $5.

El Paso – 3031 Golansky Blvd, Woodbridge, VA
El Paso will be offering drink specials all day.

Manassas

Zandra’s Tauqueria – 9114 Center St, Manassas, VA
Zandra’s will be hosting a Happy Hour until 7 p.m. with a Tequila Tuesday theme. They will also be offering drink specials and beef tongue tacos all evening.

Don Lencho – 9116 Mathis Ave, Manassas, VA
Don Lencho’s will be having a drink special for mimosas, and a Taco Tuesday with taco’s al a carte for $1.50.

El Cactus – 9406 Battle St, Manassas, VA
El Cactus is offering half-priced appetizers from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 50 cent chili con queso from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a sombrero contest. There will also be drink specials.

Stafford

El Gran Charro -2834 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, VA
El Gran Charro will be offering a taco special, with $1.25 for hard shell tacos and $1.50 for soft tacos. They are also offering nachos for $2.99. Their Cinco de Mayo drink specials include $2.99 lime margaritas and Corona’s for $2.50.

Haymarket

El Vaquero West – 14910 Washington St, Haymarket, VA
El Vaquero West is offering drink specials including a 32-ounce draft for $6.85 and all bottled beers for $2.85. They will also be offering their medium lime margaritas for $4.25.

Get home safely

To ensure that participants in the Cinco de Mayo festivities get home safely, special ride programs will be available for area residents.

SoberRide
The SoberRide program, run by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, is available to all Washington D.C. area residents from 4 p.m. today, until 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.

In order to use the free ride program, you must 21-years and older.

To use the service, you need to call 800-200-8294. SoberRide will pay for the first $30 of the fare, and anything over this amount all riders are responsible for.

The participating cab companies are Alexandria Yellow Cab, Barwood, Inc., Fairfax Yellow Cab, Loudon Yellow Cab, Northern Virginia Checker, Red Top Cab Company, Silver Cab of Prince George’s County, Yellow Cab of the District of Columbia, and Yellow Cab of Prince William County.

Crime rates down, response times up in Manassas

News

Manassas has seen some improvement in their crime rates over the last year.

The city recently released their 2014 annual crime report and found that with a population of 41,830 residents, that there are areas that have greatly improved – and some that still need improvement.

According to the report, there are around 21 crimes per 1,000 residents.

This rate is lower than the national rate reported by the FBI – but it is higher than nearby Prince William County, which has 16 crimes per every 1,000 residents.

While higher than Prince William, Manassas City has seen a decrease in their overall crime statistics, despite their growing population.

From 2000 to 2009, the crime rate in the city was 33 to 41 crimes, according to the city’s report.

The report stated that there has been a 12% decrease in serious crime, an 11% decrease in reports, but a 16% increase in domestic violence-related events, a 65% decrease in graffiti, and a 12% decrease in DUI cases.

One area of the report that showed an increase was response times. According to the city’s crime report, there was a 1 to 18-second increase for the response times of police officers, depending on the severity of the incident. Keep Reading…

Manassas area thrift store struggles following slew of discount chains

News

The store employs individuals with disabilities.
The store sells second-hand goods including clothing and home furnishings.
Community Thrift was opened back in 1999.
Due to large discount chains, they're seeing a decrease in their donations.
The store is managed by the disabilities non-profit ServiceSource.

Community Thrift, a locally owned and operated thrift store on Sudley Road in Manassas, is struggling to compete with larger discount retailers in the area.

According to Leslie Morris, manager of the store, the amount of donations has decreased in recent months, as discount chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army have come into the area.

The Community Thrift store is unique in that its staff is primarily made up of members of the disabled community in the county. The store opened its doors as a non-profit back in 1999, according to Teresa Guzik, Media Relations Specialist for ServiceSource.

Job opportunities for the disabled

ServiceSource – a non-profit disability organization – manages the operation of the store, said Guzik.

“[ServiceSource] serves more than 16,000 individuals with disabilities annually through a range of innovative and valued employment, training, habilitation, housing and other support services,” commented Guzik.

Individuals working in the store expressed their concern about the future of the store – and their jobs – due to the decline in donated goods.

“People treat other people [here] like family…I am still a little bit worried about the [donations] going down. This program and the store is here to help needy people,” said Ashley Hatton, who has been an employee for 8-years.

“I like working here. I like the people. I want to try something new [to get more donations],” said Jennifer Gifford, an employee that has been with the store for 9-years.

Family and friend’s thoughts on Community Thrift

Morris stated that community businesses that support causes like the disabled in the area were worth supporting.

“I took the position here as manager of the store because it had such a warm feeling. I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I gravitated towards this specific store because of its charity work – working with people with disabilities. I originally thought it was going to be a very challenging experience, but it’s turned out to be a very rewarding experience,” Morris said.

For parents with disabled individuals, the store has also been a positive experience.

“The Community Thrift Store has been a godsend to our daughter. The store has provided our daughter with a sense of purpose and feeling of accomplishment…there are too few opportunities for those with special needs in our community where they can be contributing members to the community. It’s continued success relies on the support and contributions of all our neighbors. Without them, this establishment and those that it directly supports would become even more dependent on government assistance programs,” said Jane Hatton, a parent of one of the employees.

All donations made to the Community Thrift store are tax-deductible, and can be dropped off anytime during store hours.

Mum Mum opening at Hylton, offers regional Thai cuisine

News
mum mum

The restaurant scene outside the Hylton Performing Arts Center continues to grow.

Mum Mum, a new Thai eatery will open its doors this month across from the center. The idea is to create a relaxing atmosphere and an upscale environment where show patrons can grab a bite to eat and a drink before seeing a show.

Kris Yoo is part owner of the restaurant. Creating an authentic bistro, from everything from the interior to a menu of inspired mash-up recipes of Thai food with border influences, is what Mum Mum is all about.

Yoo spent $80,000 to import original teak wood to the restaurant. The wood hangs over the bar and makes up some of the bench seating in the restaurant. It is engraved with a poem of a man who is professing his love for a woman.

The menu has some of the “usual suspects,” as Yoo described them, such as pad Thai. But there’s also northern Thai curry – a spicy dish full of Indian influences. It’s just a sample of the regional influences built into Yoo’s menu. The restaurant will also attempt to feature locally sourced food from our area.

What’s behind the name? “Mum mum” is slang in Thailand for food. So, when someone tells a child to get something to eat they say “mum, mum,” not “num, num,” explained Yoo.

The venture is a partnership between Yoo and the owner of Zabb Tahi Restaurant in the Bull Run Plaza shopping center off Sudley Manor Drive. Mum Mum is the first restaurant Yoo has operated.

Mum Mum will have a soft opening in two weeks in an effort to establish a bar crowd. A ribbon cutting with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for May 29.

Manassas honors its volunteers at the Hylton

News

Volunteers honored in Manassas.
Nancy Ingram-Hirsch
Joe Nelson

When Nancy Hersch Ingram moved to Manassas, it was an agricultural town where farmers came on Friday nights to buy supplies for their ranch.

Much has changed since she moved to the area nearly 60 years ago and met her husband at the “old” Manassas Airport, where the Manaport Shopping Center, across from Manassas Mall, sits today. What hasn’t changed is Ingram-Hirsch’s willingness to volunteer. She’s served on the city’s Architectural Review Board of 14 years.

“She’ll tell you what she thinks, and then she’ll tell you what she thinks about you,” joked Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy who introduced the volunteer.

Ingram-Hirsch joked with the audience about her age.

“Since I moved here in 1956, it’s astonishing that I just had my 38th birthday,” said Ingram.

Several volunteers were recognized April 30 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at the city’s annual Volunteer Recognition Program. It was hosted by Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II, and a crowd packed the Gregory Family Theater for the dinner reception.

“Thank you to all of those who are here, and to the two to three times more of you who aren’t here,” said Parrish. “We could not provide the services we provide without you.”

The man who has played the city’s Santa Claus, Joe Nelson was recognized. The Manassas native and Osbourn High School graduate talked about his job interview for Santa, where he’s seen at the city’s annual Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony.

“I don’t have a red suit,’ I told them. ‘That’s OK,’ they said, ‘we have that’ they told me,” explained Nelson. “I don’t have a beard, either’ But then they said ‘that’s OK because you have a big ‘ol round fat face, so you’re our guy.”

Other award winners included Jeanette Smith for her work on the city’s cemetery committee, and Patrick King, who sits on the Historic Manassas, Inc.’s Board of Directors.

The city has about 900 volunteers that volunteer in all areas of government, to include law enforcement, fire and rescue, arts, and to organize the city’s annual festivals, just to name a few.

The annual volunteer appreciation ceremony is organized by the city manager’s office. Each volunteer was given the gift of a portable cell phone charger as well as dinner.

Man arrested in New York, following Manassas woman’s abduction

News

Today, members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force were able to locate and arrest 34-year old Jorge Alberto Corea-Berrios – the suspect wanted in relation to the abduction and sexual assault of a Manassas woman.

The incident took place on April 11, at an apartment on Portwood Turn in Manassas.

According to Prince William police, their investigation showed that Corea-Berrios forced his way into the home of the victim, 25-year old Yezmin Ruiz-Monchez.

Inside the residence, Corea-Berrios had an altercation with another individual and then took Ruiz-Monchez from the apartment by knifepoint, said a Prince William police release.

Prince William police said that Ruiz-Monchez was able to flee after the assault and contact local law enforcement. Officers stated that during the abduction, Ruiz-Monchez was sexually assaulted, and was she was transported to a medical facility.

The task force apprehended Corea-Berrios in Hempstead, New York, where he is currently awaiting extradition, said Prince William police.

The Prince William police have charged him with strangulation, abduction, rape and burglary with the intent to commit a felony.

 

 

New Manassas zoning law sparks outcry from abortion backers

News
Photo: City of Manassas

Abortion clinics and other medical care facilities must now have special permission from the Manassas City Council before they open.

Such new medical care facilities, other than hospitals and doctors offices — those that have office space, a lab, pharmacy, a physical therapy center, or other medical centers that do not hospitalize patients for care –must now obtain a special use permit from the Council before opening their doors in any commercial district in the city.

The Council voted last night to approve the measure. It’s a change from what city officials previously recommended, to only require a special use permit for “medical care facility” in the city’s historic downtown area or areas zoned as “B2 – neighborhood commercial zones.”

That change was prompted after a City Council work session held last week where Mayor Hal Parrish gave the tie-breaking vote to put forth the ordinance to require medical care facilities across the board a special use permit.

While this proved to be the most controversial of the measures, the new “medical care facility” zoning rule was one of many city zoning laws updated for the first time in nearly 70 years. The City Council ordered the laws to be updated, said city zoning administrator Matt Arcieri.

Following last night’s vote, several spoke out against the decision.

Katherine Greenier, of the Reproductive Health Project at the ACLU of Virginia, said the move aimed to block access to women’s health. “City zoning laws should not make it disproportionally difficult to access this kind of care,” she said.

“You’re making it difficult for a new abortion provider to open in the city, and making it difficult for the current abortion provider to renovate or move to another location in the city,” added Janis Kraft-Henry.

Others warned there will be political consequences for the move and vowed to get out the vote against the councilmembers who voted to approve the special use requirement.

Some women praised the decision and spoke out against abortion. Many said the decision to give birth to their child vs. choosing abortion was the best decision that could have made.

 

Manassas man charged with abduction, impersonating law enforcement

News

On April 26, the Prince William police responded to a call from an apartment on Camfield Court in Manassas to investigate an assault.

The victim, a 26-year old woman, told officers that she and the suspect, 25-year old Stephen Kwaku Buadu, were involved in a verbal alteraction, said Prince William police.

A statement from Prince William police said that after the initial incident, Buadu knocked on the door of the victim, identifying himself as a police officer. 

When the victim opened the door, Buadu held her against her will and assaulted her, said Prince William police.

Buadu fled the scene before officers arrive. No injuries were reported. 

Following their investigation, Prince William police arrested Buadu without incident. He is currently being charged with abduction, domestic assault and battery and impersonating a law enforcement officer and is being held without bond.

 

“Movie Night” on the Manassas Museum lawn May 15

News

On May 15, the Baldwin Elementary School PTO will be hosting their annual Family Movie Night on the Manassas Museum lawn.

The movie – Paddington Bear – will begin at 8:15 p.m. 

Entry to the movie is free for all participants.

Prior to the movie, residents can take part in lawn games at 6:30 p.m. with the OHS Community Action Athletes, OHS Honors History Club, OHS, Mayfield & Metz Robotics teams, Premier Martial Arts and the NOVA Music Center Conga drum line.

Pizza, hot dogs, popcorn, candy, chips and other food items will be available to purchase with cash. All food and drink sales will benefit the Baldwin Elementary PTO.

If there is rain, the event will be rescheduled for May 29.  

First quarter campaign funds show competitive race in Virginia’s 29th district

News

The cScreen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.26.47 AMampaign finance reports for the three Democratic primary candidates in Virginia’s 29th Senate district – Jeremy McPike, Delegate Michael Futrell and Atif Qarni – show that the race is going to be very competitive.

“What these numbers show is, is that we are looking at a competitive race for this Democratic nomination,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director at the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

According to the State Board of Elections website, McPike reported $50,000, Qarni reported $35,743 and Futrell reported $31,716 for this first quarter.

“All three [candidates] have shown an ability to raise roughly comparable amounts of money, which will enable them to spend roughly comparable amounts of money – yard signs, and flyers,” said Farnsworth.

Farnsworth stated that while money is typically very important in political races in Virginia, given that the race is a primary, and all three candidates have raised similar amounts – money is not the most important factor right now.

“The turn out in primaries is very, very low in Virginia. As a result, you have to spend a significant amount of energy to convince people to support you – and then after that – you have to spend a significant amount of money after spending [a lot] of energy, to get them to turn out. So it’s a doubly difficult task to win in a primary…Fundraising will intensify in the weeks ahead as more people start to think about the primaries,” said Farnsworth.

All three candidates will be taking part in a primary debate, hosted by Potomac Local, on May 18.

Sprinkler bursts at Manassas senior home

News
amerisist

Fire and rescue crews were called to Amerisist of Manassas on Saturday.

A sprinkler head inside the building broke and water spewed inside the facility. No one was injured, said Manasass City spokeswoman Patty Prince.

Amerisist in Manassas is located at 10410 Hastings Drive.

Amerisist operates seven locations in Virginia. All are assisted living homes for senior citizens.

Send breaking news and photos to Potomac Local.

Proposed Manassas budget increases tax bills, funding for schools

News
[Photo: City of Manassas]

Homeowners in Manassas should expect their average tax bills to go up next year under a proposed city budget.

Under a plan from City Manager Patrick Pate, the total average tax bill increase is $164. Townhome owners’ property tax bills would average $2,780, condo owners would pay an average bill of $2,342, and single family home owners would pay an average bill of $4,493.

Residents Monday night will have the chance to come speak out about the city’s proposed $214 million budget. Expenditures on city services, to exclude school funding, are about 6% lower in the next year’s proposed budget than they were a year ago.  The city proposes to give more money to schools than it did a year ago, transferring 58% of the budget — $52.3 million – directly to the schools.

The tax rate would remain the same as last year at $1.368 for every $100 of assessed property value. The rate includes the city’s $0.178 fire and rescue tax levy. The average tax bill would increase 4% under the guidelines of the city’s five year plan.

Taxes going up

Residential assessments increased nearly 5%, and commercial assessments went up just over 3%. These are the few signs of good economic life in the city as other taxes like sales tax, meals tax, and taxes on cigarettes, vehicles, and cable TV and telephone services are flat or declining.

Overall, the city will increase taxes by 4% as part of a memorandum of understanding with thc city School Board that guarantees more funding for city schools.

Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy issued a statement explaining the MOU:

Keep Reading…

Is this the end of Arts Alive?

News

On May 2 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., residents will be able to enjoy the Arts Alive festival at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas – but this could be the last time.

During the initial budget draft written by County Executive Melissa Peacor, she was given the instruction to create the draft with a 1.3% tax rate increase – versus the 4% allotted in the county’s strategic plan. This then cut the funding for the Arts Council, the organization that hosts the festival. 

Over the course of the budget process, the funding for the Arts Council was re-added, and was kept in for the final budget adoption on April 21, but there are some concerns that the funding for the council may be on the chopping block again next year.

“It is absolutely correct to say that if the funding for the Arts Council fails, or goes away, or is drastically reduced, I just don’t see how we have that festival anymore,” said Sheyna Burt, the head of the Arts Council.

Burt stated that currently she feels confident about the future of the Arts Alive Festival, provided that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors continues their commitment for funding. 

“I feel pretty good about the board of county supervisors restoring our funding. As long as they [continue to] do that…the Arts Alive is the Art Council’s biggest project all year. So the vast majority of the funding we get, goes to making that happen. As long as the board of county supervisors comes through in the way that they’ve been representing that they will, then I think the festival is actually going to survive,” Burt stated. 

The Arts Council and the community group Our Prince William partnered heavily during the budgeting process to protect the arts and related community items in the county’s budget.

They plan to continue their mission by having a dialog with the board of supervisors in the coming months.

“What we’re hoping is that we can get some supervisors to sit down seriously with us, and talk about the budget process – talk about the timeline, talk about the philosophy of setting a rate before you talk about the values of the county,” said Burt.

Burt also stated that she hopes that the Arts Council can expand the festival next year, to include some activities in the eastern end of the county.

Methodist church burglarized in Manassas

News

On April 21, Prince William County police responded to a call at St. Marks United Methodist Church on Well Street in Manassas, to investigate a burglary.

According to Prince William police, a member of the church stated that a burglar broke into the church between 1 p.m. on April 19, and 9 a.m. on April 29. 

Prince William police investigated the scene, and stated that entry was likely made into the church by an unsecured front door. 

A Prince William police release stated that no property was reported missing. 

Missing man found dead in Manassas

News

Manassas City Police found the body of 23-year old Tyler Abt yesterday afternoon on Godwin Drive.

Abt was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the Manassas City Police, Abt’s death appears to be a suicide.

Abt was reported missing on April 21, and was concerned to be ‘possibly suicidal’, said a Manassas City Police release. 

Officers from the Manassas City Police, Prince William County Police, City of Manassas Park Police and Fairfax Police worked collaboratively in an attempt to locate Abt. 

The case is still an active investigation, said Manassas City Police. 

 

Michelle Obama comes to Manassas, urges companies to hire vets

News

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Micron Technologies in Manassas. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Bobbie Bilberg is head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
The first lady highlighted the need to hire more U.S. military veterans into the workforce. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Air Force Gen. Frank Klotz spoke about the need to hire more veterans.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
Tamika Carroll is a military veteran employed at Micron in Manassas.  [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]
John Holdren, Assitstant to the President for Science and Technology. [Photo: Mary Davidson/Potomac Local]

There’s a little piece of Manassas in electronic devices around the globe.

Buddy Nicoson, a site director at Micron Technology, said that parts created on-site in their Manassas plant are used for devices and cars around the world.

“Chances are that your [mobile] device has a component in it now that’s made in Manassas. On average, there are three Micron parts in every car made globally,” said Nicoson.

Micron hosted First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday to speak about the administration’s Joining Forces initiative for hiring veterans.

Micron is one of the companies that have taken part in the initiative, which just celebrated its 4-year anniversary.

Following the drawdown in the Middle East, the Obama administration saw a huge uptick in unemployment for United States veterans.

“The year that we launched [Joining Forces] the unemployment rate for our 9/11 generation of veterans was more than 12%. And for our younger veterans – it was far worse…and so we knew we had a crisis on our hands,” Obama said.

According to Obama, President Obama challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses in 2011.

As of right now, private companies have hired more than 850,000 veterans and their families since Joining Forces was formed, said Obama.

“That number comes on top of the hiring that we’ve done on the Federal government. This is an amazing accomplishment, and I am really so grateful to everyone across this country who made it possible…we should all take a moment to sit back, and feel good about what we’ve achieved together – but we should only sit back for a moment because we know there’s so much work left to do,” Obama commented.

Tamika Carroll, a Micron employee and Army veteran, struggled to find employment after leaving the military.

“When I transitioned from the Army, I wasn’t sure of my job prospects…after seven months of applying for positions, I finally found Micron. I was actually looking for the mall. And there was a huge sign out that [said] ‘We’re hiring’ and I thought ‘good because I need to be hired’…the leadership and technical skills I learned in the Army are tangible skills you can’t learn elsewhere. And I’m able to use those skills here,” Carroll said.

There are several companies across the United States, including local companies such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council – with their Veterans Employment Initiative – and Dominion Power, which have taken on the administration’s challenged to increase the amount of veteran, hires they make.

Hylton Center raises $209K at season gala in Manassas

The Hylton Performing Arts Center celebrated its 5th Anniversary Season Gala on the evening of Saturday, April 11, 2015. This highly-anticipated annual benefit event supports the Hylton Center’s mission to entertain, educate and enrich the Northern Virginia community by providing diverse and accessible arts experiences in state-of-the-art venues. The event raised more than $209,000 in funds for the Sen. Charles J. Colgan Community Arts Benefit Fund, which enables Resident Arts Partners and Affiliate Arts Organizations to perform at the Hylton Center at greatly reduced rates and consider it their artistic home.

The 5th Anniversary Gala honored William Reeder, dean of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, which includes the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Reeder plans to retire this May after serving as dean since 2001, and will continue teaching at Mason.

The gala also honored Novant Health, which has served as the Hylton Presents Season Sponsor for the past five performance seasons since the Hylton Center opened in 2010, and will continue its sponsorship for the 2015-2016 season. Melissa Robson, president of Novant Health, accepted the awards on the organization’s behalf.

Both honorees received an award of appreciation for their service to the Prince William County and City of Manassas communities and to the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Briana Sewell, a representative for Congressman Gerry Connolly, presented each with a certificate and entered them into the Congressional Record.

Co-chaired by Randall Edwards and Rich Seraydarian, the gala began with a formal reception in the Didlake Grand Foyer featuring music by jazz students from George Mason University School of Music, followed by a dinner on the Merchant Hall stage and tributes to the honorees by Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Center; Ángel Cabrera, president of George Mason University; and others. The evening concluded with dancing in the Didlake Grand Foyer, featuring The Barry Gurley Quartet, and a jazz cabaret in the Gregory Family Theater by The Darden Purcell Quartet with vocal jazz students from Mason’s School of Music. Catering was provided by RSVP Catering and wines were provided by WineStyles of Montclair.

 

Budget not as bleak as feared for Prince William / Manassas tourism agency

News

Agency awaits budget decision from Manassas City 

The budget picture is not as bad as was feared for the agency that promotes Prince William County and Manassas to tourists and travel writers.

Prince William officials passed a new $1 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2016 that takes effect July 1. Discover Prince William / Manassas (formerly the convention and visitors bureau) gets about $1 million from the county to operate next year. That money will be used mostly for salaries to pay those who give tours to travel writers who pen stories about why our area is such a great place to visit, hold events to talk up the region, and oversee the day to day operation of the agency.

While $1 million is generous, it’s about $50,000 less than what the agency received from the county last year. It’s $185,000 less than what it requested from county officials before the budget process began in earnest this spring.

“I think we as an agency have really shown what the [return on investment] us using the transient occupancy tax,” said Discover Prince William / Manassas Executive Director Anne-Marie Maher.

The agency touts the fact their sole funding source is the transient occupancy, or hotels tax, charged to those who – you guessed it – book a hotel room in the county or Manassas City. Keep Reading…

Prince William school earns Green Ribbon award

A Prince William County elementary school was honored this week, along with three other Virginia schools, as national 2015 Green Ribbon School award winners. The U.S. Department of Education program recognizes energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly schools that promote environmental awareness, community engagement and student wellness. 
 
Coles Elementary School partnered with the private sector and non-profit organizations to create nine school gardens watered with recycled water. The school nutrition program includes “no paper days” and dining by natural light on “lights off Fridays.”
 
The other winning schools are: 
  • Bassett High School, Henry County 
  • Crozet Elementary School, Albemarle County 
  • The Steward School, a suburban Richmond private school 
 
“The earth-friendly practices and hands-on environmental learning experiences woven into the instructional programs of these schools provide opportunities for students to make a difference as young people today and in the future as thoughtful and engaged citizens,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said.
 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Managing Director of the White House Council of Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss announced the winners as part of Earth Day celebrations. Nationally 58 schools, 14 school districts and nine postsecondary institutions — including the University of Virginia — were honored and will receive green display banners and be invited to send a delegation to a June recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C.
 
The Green Ribbon School program was created in 2011. 
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