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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
- Bassett High School, Henry County
- Crozet Elementary School, Albemarle County
- The Steward School, a suburban Richmond private school
There’s a new car dealership coming to Manassas.
Construction on the site of the new Brown’s Manassas Kia on Liberia Avenue has begun.
The owner of the incoming dealership is Charles Stringfellow.
Plans were submitted and approved for the project by the City of Manassas in 2014.
In collaboration with the Prince William County Economic Development Department and George Mason University, the up and coming Virginia Serious Games Institute (VSGI) is now growing to incubate and accelerate several more game design companies in Prince William.
VSGI, located at George Mason University’s campus in Prince William, started with just an idea from the institute’s founding director Dr. Scott Martin.
“It was an idea I came up with, after a visit to the University of Coventry over in the United Kingdom…I loved the [serious game] model [there]…[to act] as an incubator and an accelerator for companies within the simulation games base,” said Martin.
The game design major has been a huge growth area for George Mason University.
“It’s the fastest growing academic program in the history of George Mason University,” Martin commented.
With support from the economic development department, and an ongoing $250,000 investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia – legislation budget amendment that started two years ago, VSGI was able to take on 7 startup game design companies.
Another community partner that has helped VSGI is the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), which is based out of Alexandria. AACP has invested $500,000 thus far into VSGI.
“We had been studying education innovation as an association of educators for about a year seriously…we knew we needed a partner, and we thought about a couple, but none locally until we heard the announcement about the partnership between SGI and the county,” said Dr. Lucinda Maine, Executive Vice President and CEO of AACP.
Over 70 jobs have been created since the opening of VSGI last year.
Martin stated that the companies that work as part of the VSGI create ‘serious’ games, versus entertainment games.
“The difference between entertainment games and serious games is that [entertainment games] are developed purely to entertain. Whereas serious games have another purpose – persuasive games, educational games – however, they still have an entertaining component…Serious games can do things – like save lives,” said Martin.
One of the companies working with VSGI has created a firefighter simulator that is being used in Fairfax County to train emergency responders, said Martin.
Atlanta is considered to be a growing entertainment game hub, and Martin stated that he hopes in the coming years that Prince William County will become a serious game industry hub, bringing jobs and development to the area.
Professions Quest, one of the original game design companies that partnered with VSGI has announced their first commercial game coming to market – a health industry learning game called Mimycx.
The game allows students and healthcare workers to work collaboratively to solve problems and learn about important information they will use in their careers.
This summer VSGI is planning for rapid growth, said Martin.
“We received another investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia this summer, and we’re expanding to 14 companies,” Martin stated.
The institute is currently taking applications for the 7 additional slots. The application deadline is May 1.
First Lady Michelle Obama will be in Manassas tomorrow afternoon to announce a new initiative to hire veterans and their spouses.
Here’s more in a press release:
First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Manassas, VA to visit Micron Technology, Inc., a semiconductor manufacturer. At the event, the First Lady will announce new commitments to train and hire veterans, and military spouses, across several high-growth sectors.
In 2011, the President challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. Joining Forces continues to challenge business to hire our nation’s veterans—to date, employers have hired or trained hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses. In Manassas, the First Lady will discuss continued progress on veteran employment efforts and call on the country to continue hiring our veterans and military spouses across sectors.
The press release was sent to Potomac Local by Micron Technologies.
Obama’s visit will follow an appearance by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe scheduled at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Prince William Campus of George Mason University. The governor is expected to dedicate a new Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research at the campus.
Manassas Local will bring you coverage of both events.
Enjoy an intimate concert of great folk-jazz sounds when world-class songwriter and instrumentalist Paul Reisler performs at the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Gregory Family Theater on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 8 p.m.
Guests will enjoy sitting at café tables as they take in an impressive musical fusion featuring Reisler’s inspiring songs and instrumentals, as well as Lea Morris’ “soul-folk” blend of gospel, jazz, country and R&B music, and Marshall Keys’ versatile saxophone style.
With more than 3,500 concerts and 50 albums to his name, Paul Reisler has dedicated his musical career to sharing his songwriting talents with audiences of all ages. Reisler is the founder and director of the Kid Pan Alley™ Children’s Songwriting Project, a program that works with children in the creative process of songwriting, and has resulted in more than 2,500 songs that have been written with more than 35,000 children across the country. The project has released three CDs featuring collaborations with such world-class guest artists such as Sissy Spacek, Amy Grant and the band Cracker, among others. “The group of artists Mr. Reisler brought together are each extraordinarily talented, and the program was a beautiful melding of their artistry,” said the late Maestro Lorin Maazel and his wife, Dietlinde Maazel, founders of the Castleton Festival in Rappahannock County, Va. In addition to his work with Kid Pan Alley, Reisler was the co-founder and leader of Trapezoid, one of the nation’s most popular and influential acoustic bands, for more than 25 years; The Washington Post called the group “the finest folk group in America.” He currently leads the band Paul Reisler and A Thousand Questions.
Program will be announced from the stage.
This performance is partially supported by the Virginia Commission for the Arts
and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tickets for PAUL REISLER are $25 for adults, $10 for youth through grade 12. Family Friendly: performance suitable for families with children. Visit the ticket office (open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit HyltonCenter.org. The Hylton Performing Arts Center is located on George Mason University’s Prince William Campus at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Va., 20110. Free parking is available in the lot next to the Hylton Center. For more information, please visit HyltonCenter.org. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/HyltonCenter and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @Hylton_PAC.
The Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas welcomes a singer-songwriter the Library of Congress called “one of the most compelling figures in popular music” when Grammy Award-winning musician and storyteller Rosanne Cash makes her first appearance on the Hylton Center’s Merchant Hall stage on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 8 p.m. as a Hylton Center Extra!
In “The River & The Thread In Concert,” Cash performs songs from her recent three Grammy Award-winning album, “The River & The Thread,” a musical travelogue that connects her personal and family history and heritage to the people, places, events and culture of the American South; she will also perform chart-topping hits from throughout her career. Written with her longtime collaborator, producer, guitarist and husband John Leventhal, “The River & The Thread” reflects Cash’s journeys throughout the Southern landscape, with stops to William Faulkner’s house; Dockery Farms, the plantation where Howlin’ Wolf and Charley Patton worked and sang; her father’s boyhood home in Dyess, Ark.; the Sun Records Studio in Memphis; and the Mississippi Delta, with its memories of the birth of the Civil Rights era and the haunting gravesite of the great bluesman Robert Johnson.
“I went back to where I was born, and these songs started arriving in me,” Cash has said of her travels that shaped the album. “All these things happened that made me feel a deeper connection to the South than I ever had. We started finding these great stories, and the melodies that went with those experiences. I feel this record ties past and present together through all those people and places in the South I knew and thought I had left behind.”
“The River & The Thread” won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album and the song “A Feather’s Not a Bird” won the Grammy Awards for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song. USA Today called the album “captivating … haunting … the finest of her career.”
As part of country music’s legendary Cash and Carter families, Cash takes great pride in her lineage, but has spent more than three decades carving out her own place in music history. Her distinctive voice and rich sound that straddles country, folk, rock, blues and American roots music is perfect to tell stories of heartbreak and healing through her poignant and passionate songs. Throughout her career, Cash has released 15 albums and four books, including the best-selling memoir, “Composed.” She has earned four Grammy Awards and 12 nominations,the Americana Honors and Awards’ Album of the Year Award and 21 Top 40 hits, including 11 No. 1 singles. For more information about Rosanne Cash, please visit http://rosannecash.com.
Starting May 1, the Manassas Museum will debut their newest exhibit on the fire, rescue and police equipment used in the community.
The museum will be hosting a reception at 6 p.m. and serve refreshments to residents looking to learn more about public safety history in the City of Manassas.
One of the unique highlights of the exhibit is the fact that back in the 1960s, responders in a hearse answered emergency response calls.
Before the first public safety group, the Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad, was created in 1966, it was the Baker Funeral Home that would bring patients for medical treatment and respond to emergency scenes.
Manassas didn’t see a modernized police and fire department structure until the 1950s, and relied on mainly volunteer services.
This exhibit, which displays the evolution of Manassas and its public safety organizations, coincides with the World Police and Fire Games, which are being hosted in Prince William County this summer.
“Our Fire, Rescue and Police personnel run into a building when others run out,” said Mayor Harry J. Parrish II. “It is that courage and compassion for others that helps keep this City safe and well protected.”
The Manassas Museum will showcase the exhibit until July 15.
“I hope visitors and residents will come out for this exhibit. Our Police, and Fire and Rescue staff are top in their field and our volunteers are some of the most dedicated people I’ve met,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate.
On April 18, Prince William police responded to a call from a Days Inn location on New Market Court in Manassas to investigate an assault.
According to Prince William police, the victim, a 42-year old Centreville woman, reported that a known acquaintance came to her hotel room, uninvited, and grabbed her around her neck.
The victim stated that the suspect, 54-year old Robert Darrell Umphreys, strangled her until she lost consciousness, said a Prince William police release.
When the victim regained consciousness, she stated that Umphreys was gone, said Prince William police.
Following an investigation, Prince William police officers obtained a warrant and arrested Umphreys at his residence without incident. He is currently being charged with strangulation and is being held without bond.
The Prince William police are still seeking a fugitive that was connected to the kidnapping of a Manassas woman on April 11.
The suspect, Jorge Alberto Corea-Berrios, a 34-year old man is wanted by Prince William police on charges of strangulation, abduction, rape and burglary with intent to commit a felony, following the incident.
Early morning on April, Prince William police responded to a call on Portwood Turn in Manassas to investigate an abduction.
According to Prince William police, officers’ investigation revealed that Corea-Berrios forced his way into the home of the victim, a 25-year old woman name Yezmin Ruiz-Monchez.
Once inside, Corea-Berrios had an altercation with an individual in the home, and then removed Ruiz-Monchez from the apartment by knifepoint, leaving the site on foot, said a Prince William police release.
Prince William police stated that Ruiz-Monchez was able to flee from Corea-Berrios and seek help from law enforcement.
After further investigation, Prince William police stated that during the abduction, Ruiz-Monchez was sexually assaulted and that during a domestic altercation on April 9, Corea-Berrios strangled her.
Ruiz-Monchez was transported to a local medical facility for treatment.
The Prince William police are searching for Corea-Berrios, who has ties to Manassas and New York.
In a Prince William police release, Corea-Berrios is described as a Hispanic male, 5’7”, 160 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Residents with information on his whereabouts are being urged to contact Crime Solvers and the Prince William police immediately.
Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS) will be taking registrations for incoming kindergartners for the 2015-2016 school year starting April 28.
The registration period will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28, and continue April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. according to a MCPS school release.
Parents can register their child at any of the elementary school locations in Manassas City during the registration period, and should select the school that they plan to have their child to attend.
MCPS stated that students must turn five before the last day of September 2015 in order to be eligible for the upcoming year’s kindergarten class.
In order to find a child’s school, which is based on location, parents can look on the MCPS website.
Additionally, parents can register their child for the New Experiences in School Transitions (N.E.S.T) program.
An MCPS release stated that the N.E.S.T program aids children and their families in transitioning from home to school.
The program takes place three weeks before the beginning of the school year, and allows students to practice school skills and interacting with teachers and peers.
Yesterday evening at 5 p.m., Prince William fire and rescue units were called to a townhouse fire at Hiram Court in Manassas.
According to Prince William fire and rescue release, crews that arrived on scene were informed that occupants in the home had been evacuated safely. They also observed that a townhouse – mid-row – was fully engulfed in flame.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire without incident, with only minor siding damage done to a nearby townhouse unit, said Prince William fire and rescue.
There were three residents within the home that were evacuated prior to the fire and rescue unit’s arrival, and one resident was treated for minor injuries. The individual was transported to a local medical facility for treatment, said a Prince William fire and rescue release.
The Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the two adults and three children that were displaced by the fire, Prince William fire and rescue stated.
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the assessed property damage totaled $180,000.
A Prince William fire and rescue release stated that a building official was on the scene and has posted the property as unsafe.
Prince William fire and rescue were able to determine that the origin of the fire was the kitchen stove, and was determined as accidental.
Following the decision by the board of elections to not allow for a state-run Republican primary, the Prince William County Republican Party will be hosting a firehouse primary on April 25.
All Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park residents will have the ability to vote in the primary that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help decide who will be the Republican nominees for the general election in November. Keep Reading…
Holton, who is Virginia’s secretary of education and wife of Senator Timothy Kaine, said this effort also known as “flipping the classroom” is giving students a new way to learn.
“It’s a new way of learning. The students are having the resources at their fingertips as to be able to problem solve together as opposed to an old way of looking at it: “turn the machines off, you’ve got to memorize everything,” said Holton.
Business leaders gathered Tuesday at the Manassas Park Community Center to hear the state’s top education official speak on the state of schools in the Commonwealth. Holton said using more technology in the classroom allows students to learn where to find information, how to communicate better and present that information to their classmates, and to problem solve.
Holton said the use of technologies like giving students tablet computers is an idea that is catching on across the state. Not all jurisdictions will be able to implement the technology programs to due to school’s inability to fund such improvements. There is some help from state education officials, said Holton.
In many places, the classroom still looks as it did 100 years ago, she added.
“It’s everywhere we have a structure that says ‘kids are supposed to sit in their seats for literally for 140 hours per course, per school year, and that’s just one example of way in which are not traditionally geared to the type of individualized education we can be doing with technology,” said Holton.
She adds more students need to have the ability to leave the classroom and connect with businesses in the community.
H-Mart will be opening a 49,000 square foot retail space in Manassas Junction, located on Centerville Road in Manassas.
The store will open on April 25, according to a media spokesperson for H-Mart.
H-Mart is a Asian supermarket chain based out of New Jersey, according to a release.
Their target customer market is the Asian-American population, and they differ from a traditional grocery store, in that they have several unique international offerings, said a media spokesperson for H-Mart.
The building was formerly used by Giant Food, but the company vacated the building back in November 2012, said a release.
The Manassas Junction shopping center is 79,427 square feet, and was built back in 1981.