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Manassas Local

Committee discusses demographic inversion, attracting people and businesses


Committee of 100

So much has changed in Prince William County in just the past 10 years, that the Prince William County Committee of 100 came together April 16 at the Montclair Country Club to discuss what the future of the county may look like and what it may need to succeed. 

The Prince William County Committee of 100 holds regular non-partisan, educational forums to study interests, problems and goals of the citizens of Prince William County, as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. It has been functioning for more than 25 years.

“The rapid growth in Prince William County over the past decade has presented enormous challenges in overcrowded classrooms, efficient commuter traffic patterns, shortages of public amenities and over-stressed public safety resources,” read a description of the forum on the committee’s web page. “Jobs and housing are the two drivers of the future economy in Prince William County. The current economic conditions threaten growth in quality jobs, housing values and expanding business opportunities. The future for Prince William County will, in large measure, be determined by how Prince William County adapts its policies to protect the future of our community.”

The panelists were Robert Buchanan, Principle of Buchanan Partners LLC and President of the 2030 Group; Dr. Terry L. Clower, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University; G. Mark Gibb, Executive Director Northern Virginia Regional Commission; and Ralph Stephenson, Chairman and Co-Founder of  Citizens for Balanced Growth. 

Brendon Shaw, director of government relations for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, served as moderator. 

Each panelist gave their take on the future of Prince William County — what it may look like and what it will need. At one point, a joke was made that more Millennials should have been invited. 

One focus of the discussion was the trend of Millennials moving back into cities instead of expanding into the suburbs as previous generations have. Gibb said a “demographic inversion” is underway. For the last 50 years the region saw the people moved out of the cities to suburbia but is now seeing a population shift toward the Beltway.

If you want people to come to Prince William County, then you have to develop areas that they want to come to, Gibb remarked. “Do you want to [be] a suburban area or be more like an area that provides amenities for these new Millennials?”

Clower told the group the county needs balance, and balance comes through planning.

Land-use plans need to tie into the region’s economic development strategies, which in turn need to tie into the transportation strategies. 

“That can put you ahead of the game,” he said. “Economic development is a process… It doesn’t ever stop.” 

The next meeting will be held the evening of May 21 at the Wyndham Garden in Manassas. Visit PWC100.org for more details.

Man charged with strangling woman at Days Inn in Manassas


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. 

Prince William police seek man charged with abduction, rape of Manassas woman


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 schools open kindergarten registration April 28 – 29


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.

Townhouse fire in Manassas displaces 5


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.

Republican firehouse primary to take place April 25


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…

Virginia’s top schools chief says the classroom hasn’t changed much in 100 years


Anne Holton on Tuesday praised initiatives like Manassas Park’s eBackpack program that puts tablet computers in the hands of students.

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 to open 49,000 square foot store in Manassas Junction


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.

Help end hunger, homelessness and human trafficking at the Chapel Springs 5K

dreesen chapel springs 5K

On May 2 at 8 a.m., Chapel Springs Church will be hosting its first 5K race in Bristow to raise funds for three charity organizations.

The race will take place at the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park.

According to a release, the church is expecting 1,000 participants, and around 500 runners in the race.

Doug Dreeson, a minister with Chapel Springs Church, said the church felt motivated to go out and help the larger community by hosting the race.

“This year we said ‘Let’s do this’…our first thing was that this was not just going to be to raise money for the church. We really thought, whatever we’re doing, it’s got to be for something outside of [our church],” Dreeson said.

The church will be donating all of the race proceeds, including $17,250 raised by corporate sponsorships to the SERVE Homeless Shelter, Christ in Action Disaster Relief and Ahki’s Place Shelter.

The corporate sponsorships for the event included Freedom Bail Bonds, Wegmans, Bristow Dental Care, The Running Store and Chick-fil-A.

Dreeson commented that the church gave a lot of thought about the charities they wanted to aid, and decided to include a local, national and international charity that reflects the interests of the community.

One of the charities, Ahki’s Place Shelter, is located in Southeast Asia. The charity seeks to get women and children out of the human trafficking trade in the area, into safer situations.

“They’re in a densely populated and extremely poor part of Asia, and they are rescuing kids and women from human trafficking. Where they are – once a woman has been in prostitution, there’s no other option for her,” Dreeson said. 

There is still space for runners that want to register for the race.

The registration fee is $40.00 and includes a t-shirt, according to a release. 


Manassas man, 22, stabbed outside Gainesville home


On March 28, Prince William police responded to a call from Novant Health Prince William Medical Center to investigate an assault. 

According to a Prince William police release, an investigation revealed that the victim, a 22-year old Manassas man, was with friends at a residence on Rembert Court in Gainesville, when the victim was assaulted by two acquaintances.

After completing the investigation, detectives from Prince William police’s Robbery Unit identified both men involved in the assault of the victim.

Prince William police stated that when attempting to arrest one of the suspects, 19-year old Gainesville man Stefan Greceanu, Ionela Greceanu, his mother, stood in the doorway to stop officers from entering.

Officers on the scene were able to take both Ionela and Stefan Greceanu into custody without incident, said a Prince William police release. 

18-year old Eduard Gaman, identified as the second suspect in the assault, was located and arrested yesterday, said a Prince William police release.

Stefan Greceanu and Gaman are being charged with malicious wounding and are being held without bond.

Ionela Greceanu is being charged with obstruction of justice.




Prince William man sentenced for selling cocaine



Christopher DiBenedetto, 32, of Prince William County, was sentenced to six years and six months in prison with an additional eight years and six months suspended for selling cocaine. The office of Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced the sentencing on April 10. DiBenedetto sold the drugs to confidential informants working at the direction of the Fairfax County Police Department.

DiBenedetto was also ordered to pay restitution of $4,950 and serve five years probation, according to a release by the attorney general’s office. 

The press release also stated:

DiBenedetto sold cocaine to one informant on five separate occasions between April and June 2014 and arranged to sell cocaine to a second informant. These transactions occurred in the Centreville area of Fairfax County.

According to a post-arrest interview, DiBenedetto acknowledged that he had sold cocaine to the informant on several occasions, with the largest single transaction being for approximately two ounces. He also acknowledged arranging to sell cocaine to the second informant. However, once he received that informant’s money, he simply kept it and never delivered the drugs, believing he was owed money from a previous drug transaction. 

DiBenedetto was arrested the next day.

Virginia Assistant Attorney General Marc J. Birnbaum prosecuted the case at the request of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney. The case was investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department. 

Woman abducted from her home in Manassas



According to a Prince William police release, the victim, Ruiz-Monchez, has been located. 

She is currently receiving medical attention, said a release.

Prince William police are still investigating to confirm the identity of the individual involved in the abduction, said a Prince William police release.

Original post

Early this morning, Prince William police responded to a call at a residence on Portwood Turn in Manassas to investigate an abduction of 25-year old Yezmin Ruiz-Monchez.

According to a Prince William police release, an investigation revealed that an individual forced his way into the victim’s, apartment.

When the individual entered the residence, he assaulted a person in the apartment before obtaining a kitchen knife and forcing his way into the victim’s room, said a Prince William police release.

A Prince William police release stated that the individual removed the victim from the residence at knifepoint.

The other person in the residence was cut during the encounter, and has gotten medical attention for his injuries.

The victim and the individual know one another, according to a Prince William police release.

Prince William police do not know if the individual and the victim left the residence in a vehicle or by foot, and the individual is currently unidentified.

Currently, the victim is considered missing and an endangered adult.

The individual has local ties to the Manassas area, and could still be armed with a knife, said a Prince William police release.

Will tourism still be a priority for Prince William County, Manassas?


manassas tourismTourism is picking up in Prince William, but the group in charge of promoting the region faces cuts in their upcoming budget.

Discover Prince William/Manassas promotes the County and Manassas City as a destination for family vacations and those who are looking to connect with history. A total of $505 million is spent each year in the county and $65 million in the city by tourists visiting the region, according to agency director Ann Marie Maher. The tourism industry created more than 6,000 jobs in the region, she added.

Despite the numbers, as well as several factors like the opening of two new hotels, the continued development of Potomac Shores as a destination, and the Hylton Performing Arts Center, the agency expects a budget shortfall of about $370,000 next year. The  agency would operate on a $1 million budget. 

The shortfall could lead to the closure of a visitor center in Occoquan, a scale back of Discover’s marketing and advertising efforts, and a reduction in staff, and wage freezes for employees in its western Prince William County office.

Manassas City funds 8% of Discover’s budget, and officials there are evaluating just how much money the city will provide the agency. Manassas also funds Historic Manassas, Inc., which is charged with drawing local and regional crowds to the city’s Downtown.

“We won’t reduce the amount of money we spend on promoting Manassas, but we want to make sure we’re getting the best bang for our buck,” said Manassas City Manager Patrick Pate.

Maher said her office does a great job to promote the region, and city officials understand that even if they decide to reduce funding.

“There’s a thought that Prince William County promotes the area to get tourists here, so it might be easier for the city to just market to them when they’re already here,” said Maher.

Prince William officials are expected to approve their 2016 budget later this month. Manassas will approve its city budget afterward.

While funding for local tourism is sorted out, the number of visitors to Virginia continues to increase thanks to the state’s connection to history, and a growing film industry. Film projects such as HBO’s John Adams, Lincoln, Evan Almighty, and the AMC-TV series Turn were shot in the Commonwealth. That helps to bring in travelers.

“People want to walk in the footsteps of Lincoln, and great movie directors like Steven Speilberg,” said Virginia Tourism Corporation President and CEO Rita McClenny.

She spoke to those who gathered Friday afternoon for the “Impact of Tourism” event hosted by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce at Stonewall Golf Club. Virginia’s outdoor destinations, it’s beaches, Colonial Williamsburg, and shopping are the state’s top tourism drivers, she added.

Looking to capitalize on the outdoors, Discover Prince William / Manassas showed a new video depicting a family vacationing in the area and visiting Leesylvania State Park on the Potomac River in Woodbridge, Manassas Battlefield National Park, and Historic Downtown Manassas. The video was designed to attract families to the region.

Discover hopes to produce additional videos to target more specialized markets such as military reunions and outdoor enthusiasts. If funding is reduced, Maher said, the new videos may not be made.

Manassas to host celebration for Arbor Day on April 24


Manassas has been honored by the Arbor Day Foundation for their urban forest management program, and named a 2014 Tree City USA.

The Arbor Day Foundation partners with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters in order to designate these awards to localities across the country.

Manassas has received the national designation by the foundation for the past 25 years, according to a City of Manassas release. 

To celebrate this year’s award, there will be a ceremony on April 24 at the Liberia Plantation in Manassas at 10 a.m.

During the ceremony, area students from kindergarten through fifth grade will present their winning entries for the Arbor Day poster contest, according to a release.

In order for a city to earn a Tree City USA designation, they must have a tree board, an ordinance for tree-care, a forestry budget of a minimum of $2 per capita, as well as a proclamation to observe Arbor Day, said a release.

“We not only celebrate our trees on Arbor Day…We celebrate our future – leaving a legacy of clean air, beauty and good stewardship for generations to come,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate in a release.

How Manassas Park is ‘flipping the classroom’ with learning tablets


eBackpack learning modeled after North Carolina school

The eBackpack initiative is part of Manassas Park Public Schools Connects, a initiative where students will be provided with a personal digital device. In time, every student in the school system will be provided with a tablet.

The full roll out of this program is scheduled began in February at Manassas Park High School with the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.  Over the course of the next few years, the program will be rolled out to the other three schools in the district. 

Stage one of the e-backpack initiative is nearing completion which has teachers and students reflecting on the different changes in their classrooms.

A pilot was conducted this past fall with freshman and sophomores in Pre-AP and ESOL level 1 classes.  Pilot teachers Mrs. McCracken, English; Mr. Bouchillon, Science; Ms. Beauregard; History; and Ms. Meitzler; ESOL have all had the opportunity to experiment with a 1:1 learning environment in their classrooms this year, in which they used Dell Venue tablets.

With this, came a chance to implement new learning strategies and take advantage of the advanced technology while students enjoy being able to use their own tablets and work more independently.

MPCS is modeling the e-backpack initiative at MPHS after the Mooresville Independent School District in North Carolina.

“Mooresville is using MacBooks, which is a little bit different, but they’ve been doing this for eight years and when you walk into one of their classrooms, it’s one of the most amazing things,” said Instructional Technology Specialist Chris Konig. “Students are working on their own devices and everyone is kind of working on their own thing; students are engaged.”

Konig hopes that the same experience will come for us as well.

The tablets offer more of an opportunity to “flip” classes and work with lectures to enhance learning. Keep Reading…

Free homeless dental clinics in Prince William


The Greater Prince William Community Health Center is partnering with the Virginia Health Care Foundation to offer three homeless dental clinics at the Evergreen Health Center in Manassas. 

The three clinics will take place on April 18, May 16, and June 20.

“Everybody thinks of dental care as a luxury item, but it is essential to good health,” said Health Center Board of Directors President Paul Moessner, in a release. 

In addition to the dental services being provided, local organizations like SERVE will work to help identify the homeless individuals that need services, and help them get transportation to the clinics.

During last year’s free dental clinics, more than 17 patients were seen, and were able to provide cleanings, X-rays, extractions and fillings.

According to a release, these services are valued at more than $12,000.


Weems elementary wins education award in Manassas


Weems Elementary School in Manassas has been awarded the 2015 National Excellence in Urban Education award.

According to a release, the criterion for the award includes rigorous curriculum, effective instruction, the ability to relate, and continuous improvement across demographic groups in the school.

As winners of the award, Weems will be honored at the 2015 National Symposium on High-Performing Urban Schools in May, and will receive $2,500.


Man charged with armed robbery in Manassas


On Saturday afternoon, Prince William police responded to a call on Rolling Road in Manassas in relation to a robbery.

According to a Prince William police release, the victim – a 19-year old Manassas man – said that he had met with the suspect, 19-year old Manassas man Justice Edward Ansah, to conduct a narcotics transaction.

During this exchange, Ansah and other individuals attacked the victim before taking his money and property, according to a Prince William police release. The suspect and the other assailants then fled the scene.

No injuries were reported, said a Prince William police release.

After conducting their investigation, Prince William police located and arrested Ansah. He is being charged with robbery, conspiracy to a commit a felony-robbery and assault by mob.

Ansah is being held without bond.



Manassas Park High School lets students lead parent-teacher conferences


School hopes change will motive students to perform better  

We all know how parent-teacher conferences usually go. A long, exasperated groan from students and a stressful sigh from their parents. Most parents don’t even end up showing up, and the ones that do get a lecture about the things their child is doing wrong, not how they are progressing. This can add unnecessary pressure on students, making them feel like they’re not doing well enough.

Manassas Park High School Principal Dr. Deborah Bergeron and the have strived to change that this year by initiating student-led conferences run by students, not teachers. The hope is that this new method of conferences will increase parent participation and help them see how their child is progressing in a positive way.

The idea came from other new changes at MPHS this year. There is a focus on new, positive ways to get students more involved in their learning and excited about school. There is more focus on students self-managing themselves and being able to use student choice such as in choosing how to present projects and working more independently. An example of this is the new social contracts that were implemented in all classes as part of the “Capturing Kids’ Hearts” program. Contracts were created with student collaboration about how students want to be treated in their class environments. This new style of conferences has been made to tie in with some of the new changes. 

 “I believe these new conferences will be very helpful as the old style of conferences didn’t mesh with all of the new changes made this year,”said Manassas Park High School English and Theatre teacher Ms. Ignatius.

During conferences, students showed their parents how they were making progress in a class and how they were growing. This related to the self-managing style being focused on this year, as students decided how the conference with their parents should be led.

“The conferences worked well because they provided a positive and different atmosphere that was less serious than traditional parent-teacher conferences, and parents were able to know what was going on,” said sophomore Nafeesa Lodi.

Students were able to show their strengths and what they are excel in, as well as where they need to improve, and what they could do to improve in that area. Students also chose work that they wanted to show to their parents and give them their point of view on their work. Prior to conferences, students filled out a survey every week self-evaluating themselves on how they thought they were performing in their classes. Parents were able to view the results of the survey and see how their child evaluated themselves. Elective classes also had booths set up in the main hallways displaying student work.

Sophomore Caitlin Lawrence liked the new conference style.“The school should continue to do these conferences again next year,” she said.

Jessie Smith writes for the MPHS Script student newspaper and contributed this piece to Manassas Local.

Driver collides with guardrail on Prince William Parkway


Emergency crews work to repair a damaged guardrail on Prince William Parkway.
A car collided with a guardrail on Prince William Parkway and then drove into a median.

Emergency crews were called to assist a driver that collided with a guardrail.

These photos were sent in to us from a Manassas Local reader who happened to be in the area of the crash, near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Interstate 66.

The witness told Manassas Local a driver exiting I-66 onto Prince William Parkway east collided with the railing and then drove into the median of the Prince William Parkway.

Rainy conditions have prevailed for much of the day and roads are slippery out there.

Send us photos when you see news happen.

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