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Manassas shops for new voting machines, considers new precinct

manassas-city-precinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News
Write-in candidates will win Manassas Park City Council elections

manassas park city hall

Manassas Park City Voter Registrar Patricia Brendel hasn’t seen anything like this in her 18 years on the job.

No one is running to fill two of three open city council seats which that are up this General Election on November 8.

Donald Shuemaker is running to fill one of three open seats on the Manassas Park City Governing Body. But with no candidates for the other two seats, that will leave city officials counting write-in ballots to see who will fill the other two open seats. The top two names on the most write-in ballots win the seats.

It’s an unprecedented situation in Manassas Park where candidates have not signed up to run for two open seats on the seven-member Governing Body. The deadline to get one’s name on the ballot for the upcoming November Election has come and gone.

To date, only one person has declared to city elections officials they are mounting a write-in campaign. They didn’t share that name with us as to avoid showing favoritism to one candidate, as there may be others running similar write-in campaigns but have yet to notify city hall.

The two top-write in vote getters who win the seats will be requried to file campaign finance declarations upon their victory, just like any other candidate whose name appeared on the ballot. In fact, anyone who is running a write-in campaign should head to the city’s voter registrar’s office to notify city officials, they said.

“We don’t want people to think this is funny. This is somebody who is going to be running our city, and it’s a very serious thing when you’re doing a write-in campaign. We don’t want people to thing its something that you make fun of, or people to think it’s a game,” said Manassas Park City Voter Registrar Patricia Brendel.

Brendel assures us that Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck won’t win, despite how many write-in ballots the fictional characters get.

“It has to be a real person,’ she said.

Voter turnout is expected to be higher this November due to the presidential election. Manassas Park elections officials will place sample ballots on the city website for voters to view before heading to the polls.

Locally, this election will bring overall changes to the makeup of the Manassas Park Governing Board. Mayor Frank Jones is defending his seat against current Councilwoman Janet Rishell who gave up her seat on the Governing Body to run for Mayor.

Vice Mayor Bryan Polk and Councilman Keith Miller are not seeking reelection.

*Editors note: An earlier version of this story stated Polk and Miller were seeking reelection.

News
Manassas City Police to hold open house

Updated 

The open house for the Manassas City Police Department will take place from Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

Original post

The Manassas City Police Department will hold an open house on Sept. 24, 2016, at its police station located at 9518 Fairview Avenue in Manassas. 

The event is free to attend and will take place between 

Officers will be on hand to provide demonstrations, tours of the police station, as well as interact with residents, said Manassas City Police spokeswoman Adrienne Helms.

The department has yet to say when the open house will begin and end. We’ll update this post when we do learn the times of the event. 

 

News
City will determine what hotel is built at Manassas Gateway

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A new 125-room hotel will be one of the new commercial amenities at the soon-to-be developed Manassas Gateway.

It will be built on 40 acres of land city officials dubbed “Gateway” near the Manassas DMV.

With the hotel, the development will also include spaces for commercial retail, offices, 270 new townhomes, and 112 condo homes. With a large pond forming in the middle of Cannon Branch, it will also be the city’s first waterfront development.

Manassas City economic development officials are responsible for closing the deal on which new hotel will locate at Gateway. The desire is to have a hotel in the Hilton or Marriot hotel chains locate here, said Kingsley McAdam, with Buchanan Partners, the firm that will develop the land.

There won’t be a grocery store at Gateway, an amenity commonly found as an anchor store in new suburban developments. “We think there is plenty of grocery shopping nearby,” said McAdam.

Gateway’s location near the Manassas Regional Airport and the Prince William Innovation technology park will make it ideal for business and travelers, he added.

A pedestrian plaza will connect all of the buildings at Gateway. Four planned commercial buildings will offer surface parking lots, and another four buildings that to be built on the site would need a parking deck.

Water and sewer utility lines must also be added to the site before building construction can begin. Dirt must also be shifted from the soil-heavy commercial side of the project near the Manassas DMV to the residential side of the development near Prince William Parkway, as part of the grading process.

The Manassas DMV building is not part of the Gateway development, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be. City leaders have the option to sell the city-owned land on which the DMV sits to Buchanan Partners.

That probably won’t happen for at least five to 10 years after Gateway opens.

“Depending upon the market, that space might become more attractive to us but we’re in no rush to tear down the DMV,” said Kingsley.

Kingsley presented his Gateway project to the Economic Development Committee at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. There, Kingsley was urged to begin working with the Norfolk-Southern Railway, which operates the rail line that runs adjacent to the property.

“Is this a no-[train] horn zone? If not, you need to start your research with Norfolk-Southern right now because you’re going to build in hundreds of people who will object to the train horn being blown,” said Roger Snyder, a longtime city resident.

Manassas Gateway will be located at 10500 Gateway Boulevard. The City Council approved the development in October 2015.

News
Eight people displaced in townhouse fire

From Prince Willaim fire and rescue: 

On Thursday, August 4th, at 7:57 a.m., fire and rescue crews were dispatched to a  townhouse fire located in the 10200 block of Winchester Court in Manassas.

Upon arrival, fire and rescue units observed a fire blazing from the front of the home.

The fire, located on the 3rd floor of the 3-story mid-row townhouse, had extended to the attic above the bedroom. Firefighters extinguished the fire and searched for further extension; no further extension was found.

No injuries reported.

Red Cross was on scene to assist seven adults and one child, displaced by the fire.

The Building Official has posted the home unsafe.

According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, the home sustained significant damage to the third floor and attic; preliminary damages are estimated at $60,000.

The area of origin was the 3 rd floor bedroom; the cause electrical and has been determined as accidental.

News
Manassas man dies in motorcycle crash

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From Prince William police: 

Fatal Crash Investigation – On July 28 at 8:30PM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the 11000 block of Tower Pl in Manassas (20109) to investigate a crash involving a motorcycle. The investigation revealed that the victim was operating a BMW GS in the area above when he lost control and struck a parked Toyota Camry. The force of the collision separated the victim from the motorcycle and he collided with a parked Jeep Grand Cherokee. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he later died. The victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs are factors in this crash.

                Identified:

                The victim was identified as Robert James MELCHIORRE, 64, of Manassas

News
Standard and Poors rates Manassas City AAA

cityhall1

Manassas City officials today are heralding the city’s new AAA bond rating. 

More in a press release: 

Standard and Poors Global Ratings has raised its long-term rating on the City of Manassas’ general obligation debt to AAA from AA+.  The City of Manassas also received a AAA rating on long-term 2016 general obligation public improvement and refunding bonds.  S&P Global stated that the outlook on all of the City of Manassas ratings are stable.

“I am very proud of the improvements that the City has made over the past three years.  These have resulted in this upgrade of our bond rating,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate.  “This rating is an affirmation of the economic vitality of our community along with the positive changes that have been made in our financial and budget policies, practices and performance.   These efforts are having the intended results of providing tangible savings to our citizens and show our continued commitment to our residents.”

The AAA bond rating helps the City of Manassas save money both with new bonds and potential refunding bond sales.  The AAA Bond Rating is the highest bond rating given by S&P and the first time the City of Manassas has received this designation.  The City plans to use proceeds of the bonds sold to finance the costs of capital improvement projects, including the acquisition, construction, extension, renovation and equipping of public school, public safety, utility and general governmental improvements.

The city joins neighboring Prince William County which announced one year ago that it had achieved AAA bond status from three major credit rating firms. 

News
National Religious Broadcasters headquarters leaving Manassas, bound for Washington, D.C.

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From NRB: 

Starting Monday, July 25, the headquarters staff of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) will be operating from the association’s new office space in Washington, D.C.

Located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue NW and North Capitol Street, the office suite is in the National Guard Memorial Museum Building – one block west of Union Station and just a few blocks from the United States Capitol building.

Commenting on the move, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, said, “This action is both historic and timely.”

“Now, more than ever, our first freedoms — of religion, speech, and the press — must be defended vigorously before members of Congress, federal government regulatory agencies, and in the courts,” stated Dr. Johnson. “Our new headquarters on Capitol Hill will more effectively allow us to address our members’ concerns and work with policymakers on these critical issues.”

Since 1992, the NRB has operated out of its headquarters in Manassas, Va. In 2003, NRB opened an additional office on Capitol Hill to maintain a strong presence in close proximity to America’s decision-makers. This past February, the NRB Board of Directors approved a recommendation to relocate the corporate headquarters to Capitol Hill.

In an announcement, Dr. Johnson noted the “growing concerns among our members about their First Amendment rights to proclaim the Gospel.” For more than 70 years, NRB has faithfully represented its members’ public policy concerns in Washington. NRB’s mission is to advance biblical truth, promote media excellence, and defend free speech.

On Monday, the NRB headquarters staff will join Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations, and James A. Smith, Sr., Vice President of Communications, who have been operating out of the new office since June 27.

News
Another hot one: Heat advisory in effect until 8 p.m.

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From the National Weather Service: 

...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT
THIS EVENING...

* HEAT INDEX VALUES...UP TO 108 DUE TO TEMPERATURES BETWEEN 95 TO
  100...AND DEWPOINTS IN THE LOWER 70S.

* IMPACTS...RISK OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS FOR THOSE WITHOUT AIR-
  CONDITIONING OR THOSE OUTDOORS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HIGH TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE.

TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN
POSSIBLE... RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR
EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT
STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN
POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.

TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK... THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND
HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS
IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY
HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE
IS AN EMERGENCY - CALL 911.

The Manassas Park Community Center gears up for another great year of their Youth Basketball League

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Right now, it is hot outside with temperatures reaching into the high 90s. But in a few months, these hot temperatures will be just a memory as we begin gearing up for the fall and winter seasons. At the Manassas Park Community Center, winter is synonymous with the Community Center’s Youth Basketball League, formerly called Biddy Ball league!

What separates this league from others in our area? Mike Arrington, Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation League Director and Athletics Recreation Specialist says it is a combination of the electric atmosphere, intense games, and the passion of everyone involved to create a memorable experience.

“When I tell the kids to have fun, I really mean it,” Mr. Arrington said while smiling. “We are very hands on. Practices are weekly and games are on Saturdays, and either I or a member of my team, is there each Saturday watching the games, checking out the referees, and keeping everyone happy,” he added.

Keeping everyone happy begins the minute participants sign up for the league. Mr. Arrington pointed out that this league is, by far, the best value in the area. If families have a Community Center All-Access Passport membership, the price is only $45. Residents pay $80 and non-residents pay $90. This price includes an officially licensed, replica NBA jerseys which participants keep after the season has ended.

“We have people coming back year after year because they like the way the league is organized, and that tells me we are doing our job! Our league is developmental; we are providing a fun place where kids really learn how to play the game of basketball, and they have fun,” Arrington added.

Participants and their parent must attend an assessment night. It is during this time that coaches and staff look at each participant to determine their skill levels.  “The kids usually fall into one of three categories and are placed accordingly,” Mr. Arrington explained, “From there, we have a draft. Every effort is made to keep the draft fair and the teams as balanced as possible. It doesn’t benefit the players or the league if the teams are not balanced.”

There are no more than 10 kids on a team which means that every child plays. “We don’t have any king or queen benchwarmers in our program,” emphasized Arrington, “Each coach is on an honor system and usually has an assistant coach or a team mom or dad monitor the playing time of each player on the team.”

“We also bring back the same referees each year because they are consistent. They will stop and explain their calls to our youngest or to our newest players so that the players learn from their mistakes.” Arrington finds this level of interaction from coaches, parents, and referees encouraging and representative of the values he believes the program embodies. Good sportsmanship is a quality that can never be overemphasized.

Coaches are required to attend a mandatory meeting outlining all the rules and regulations. Coaches provide the framework for the league. All coaches are encouraged to let the kids play while learning the fundamentals and the game of basketball. “Just like in the professional NBA, all teams are not winning teams,” Arrington pointed out, “The kids learn how to handle losing as well as learning what it means to win. Learning from mistakes and not always winning certainly are life skills our kids will always use.”

Parents and coaches must sign a Code of Conduct where they agree not to interfere with the learning process. “Our parents are super-involved, and during the games, the gym is rocking,” said Arrington.
“Unfortunately, sometimes a bad call can bring out another side of the parents,” he added. “We understand how emotionally vested our parents are, and, as a last resort, have escorted a parent out of the building,” he admitted, “But that behavior is not the norm.”  

Parents and fans get so involved in the games because they see their kids’ teams progress and get better each week. A great way to reward participants who are noticeably progressing is with an All-Star game, which is also part of this league. Coaches poll their parents to determine the best two players on each team and those players play in the All-Star game. “The MVP of the All-Star game is usually the most well-rounded player,” said Arrington, “We’re looking for the player who is passing, assisting, making defense moves, and encouraging his/her teammates,” he added.

After the regular season ends, each team participates in the playoffs. It is a single elimination playoff where if your team wins, you stay and play another game. If you lose, you go home. The champion team for all the age groups is posted on Facebook and all the kids on the first and second place teams will receive a trophy. The exception is the participants in the 4-5 age group who will receive a certificate of completion.

Participants of all age groups receive a certificate of completion, but Mr. Arrington knows they receive much more than that. They learn teamwork, persistence, and get great exercise too.

“I’m a guy who grew up playing sports – basketball and football to be specific. My dad was hard on us, but my mother honestly was worse! I know what that is like and I am working with my staff to provide a place for kids to have fun and to learn about a game I truly love,” summed up Mr. Arrington.

He isn’t the only one who loves the league at the Manassas Park Community Center. The hundreds of kids who participate and the coaches who teach and guide them come back to play year after year. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Do what you love and have fun too!

Registration for The Manassas Park Youth Basketball League opens August 15th. You can reach Mike Arrington at M.Arrington@manassasparkva.gov for more information.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

News
Mathurin talks to 1 Million Cups Prince William about expanding DJ academy

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Jean Mathurin, CEO of Incredible DJs, was the presenter at 1 Million Cups Prince William on Wednesday.

Mathurin built a business as a wedding DJ is now looking to expand his business by creating a DJ academy where prospective DJs looking to break into the wedding industry can learn the trade.

After Mathurin had presented his business to the audience at 1 Million Cups, many business owners attending the event suggested he work with local educational institutions seek space to hold classes for aspiring DJs, and tp explore a vocational certification for his budding DJ Academy.

Incredible DJs also hosts corporate and holiday parties. Mathurin is based in Alexandria and splits his time between the Washington, D.C. and New York City metropolitan areas.

1 Million Cups Prince William meets Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. The educational events are free to attend.

News
Marquee demolition a sign of things to come on Grant Avenue in Manassas

City officials applauded Monday night when a 47-year-old sign that once marked the location of a Safeway grocery store, and more recently a flea market, was taken down.

A crane helped to lower the sign that stood along what was once the busy southern gateway to Manassas along Route 234 / Grant Avenue, just south of the city’s Downtown. The sign’s removal is a symbol of change coming to this corridor.

The city purchased the old Safeway building for $3.2 million 10 days ago. Now a landlord, the city will collect rent from the tenants who own shops inside the flea — a handful of small clothing boutiques, a furniture store, and cell phone retailer.

When the last merchant lease expires, the city plans to demolish the building and reclaim the land. While there is no exact plan on what will go here, there is much talk about building a larger home for the city’s police department, replacing its current headquarters on Fairview Avenue.

“They need the room not only for all of the officers and all of the cars that we have, and everything that goes along with public safety and protection but warehouse abilities, too,” said Manassas City Councilwoman Sheryl Bass. All of the investigations require so much evidence and accumulation of that, and going through it, and we’ve outgrown where we are established right now.”

manassasdemoteam

No longer the southern gateway 

Grant Avenue will get a face lift in this process. City planners are designing what the new streetscape will look like.

The busy street is a hub for pedestrians who walk to and from the adjacent Georgetown South neighborhood, and for children walking to class at Baldwin Elementary, Metz Middle, and Osbourn High schools.

The street has four lanes of traffic and is difficult to cross.

“We’re looking at doing a road dieting plan,” said Manassas City Manager Patrick Pate. “The traffic patterns show that you could probably get by with one lane in each direction and turn lanes.”

Grant Avenue was once the southern gateway to the city for drivers entering the city from Prince William County. An underpass that carries vehicles underneath railroad tracks in Downtown was instrumental in unclogging delays for drivers sitting at railroad crossings.

The construction of the Prince William Parkway changed traffic patterns, and today drivers access the city mainly Route 28 to the west and Prince William Parkway to the southeast.

A public hearing was held earlier this month at Georgetown South to see what residents wanted to see in a redesigned Grant Avenue. Elected leaders say it’s a chance to expand the type of new construction development seen in Downtown, where new office and condominium buildings have risen.

“This side of the railroad tracks matters too,” said Manassas City Councilman Marc Aveni. “Think about it. Most of the development has been on [the Downtown] side of the railroad tracks and now we’re working our way over here. I think it’s great.”

Closing up shop

Things aren’t so great for the owners of City Wireless inside flea market. A man who asked be called Mike said he and his mother had sold cell phones from a booth inside the flea market for the past six years.

The two of them had built up a solid customer base at City Wireless during that time, gaining business mainly from Georgetown South residents who can walk to their shop.

Mike and his mother have until the end of August to close up shop and move. Due to higher rents in buildings nearby, Mike and his mom probably won’t be able to reopen a new store within a square mile of his current location.

“I called over to the [Wellington] Giant shopping center… they’ve got a space open… it’s $5,000 a month,” he said. “We can’t afford that.”

Many other shopping centers already have cell phone retailers, and they’re not too keen on the idea of City Wireless locating there because they don’t want competition for their existing clients, said Mike.

It’s also a crowded market, one that’s gotten “big and easy” to enter, he added.

City Wireless isn’t the first to leave the flea market. A photography studio recently closed up shop, and stores that sell clothing, music, and furniture are soon to follow.

News
Elite Golf opens near Manassas Regional Airport

elitegolf

From Jane Peters, marketing director for Elite Golf. 

“Elite Golf is a family owned and operated business located in Manassas, VA. Owner of Elite Golf, TC Robinson, wanted to start an indoor facility where golfers can play golf during rain, extreme heat and the winter months. Opening in the United Sportsplex facility (formerly Elite Sports) seemed

Opening in the United Sportsplex facility (formerly Elite Sports) seemed like a great place for something like this which is unlike any other in our area.  The sports facility also features the Complete Game Baseball Facility,  Athletes Addiction Strength and Speed and Wrestling. Adding the golf simulators, food & beverages, arcade games, air hockey, pool tables and

Adding the golf simulators, food & beverages, arcade games, air hockey, pool tables and dart boards, seemed like a great addition to the facility.   Elite Golf features Tru Golf Simulators with over 85 world-renowned golf courses and 36 modes of play.  Tru Golf features E6 Software where you can play tournaments online with other golfers around the country.  

Local tournaments and leagues coming this fall.  Our head golf professional, Brian Agee, is available for lessons and short game clinics. The facility is also available for corporate parties, birthday parties and luncheons.”

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Manassas City Community Development staff member authors second book

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Lisa Sievel-Otten, City of Manassas Community Development Administrative Assistant, has authored her second book and is donating all proceeds to Liberia Plantation restoration efforts.

Manassas, a new book that gives a glimpse into life in post-Civil War Manassas through vintage post cards, tells surprising stories from the emerging town and about the creation of the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Only a decade before, early Manassas residents had been on opposing sides of a deadly battle. And yet they came together in the 1870s to build a town and a sense of community. Many of the book’s images exist only in post cards. Without these post cards, no visual record of many Manassas buildings, sites, and streetscapes would remain.

“In a time when instant communication meant walking down the street to a neighbor’s house to deliver some news, Manassas citizens also helped to build a strong community by joining churches and civic organizations,” said Sievel-Otten. “Much of the town turned out for school concerts and ball games, Dairy Festivals and Horse Shows.”

The book also recounts the role of railroads, the establishment of the Commonwealth’s first public school, the establishment of the nationally known Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth, and the emergence of the town as a tourist destination for those visiting the Manassas National Battlefield.

Sievel-Otten, who has led many tours for the Manassas Museum, helps to manage Liberia Plantation’s restoration, and produces publications and signage for the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division. She is also the author of Liberia Plantation: Sentry of the Ages, a short history published by the Manassas Museum that also benefits Liberia Plantation’s restoration.

“I hope readers will appreciate that early Manassas residents were able to overcome the division of the Civil War, and come together to build not only a town government, but a real community,” said Sievel-Otten. “I hope they will also appreciate the struggles of African-Americans who were constrained by so many laws, yet built a positive community for themselves and their families.”

Manassas is available online at www.manassasechoes.com or by visiting Echoes, the Manassas Museum Store.

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Acqtel Realty, Inc. moves to Downtown Manassas

acqtel

Acqtel Realty, Inc. relocated its headquarters to Downtown Manassas.

The firm invested $30,000 in renovations into a property at the corner of Church and Main West streets, across from the city’s Old Post Office building.

The company relocated from offices off Gaskins Way, near the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College in Prince William County.

Title Associates of Virginia and New Penn Financial are also located inside the new offices at the 131-year-old building.

Acqtel Realty, Inc. Owner Jim Smith said he began searching for a place to relocate his business in January.

“I came here to look at the Old Post Office building which was for sale, and then I turned around and noticed this building,” said Smith.

He jumped at the chance to renovate an older building, saying he has a passion for older homes and historic buildings in the neighborhood. Acqtel Realty, Inc. replaces a law firm that had been located inside the building.

The new owners of the building held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and barbecue on Friday, July 15.

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Manassas National Battlefield Park will host a naturalization ceremony

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From the National Park Service: 

MASNASSAS, Va. – In cooperation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Manassas National Battlefield Park will host a naturalization ceremony on Thursday, July 21, 2016, in recognition of the Centennial of the National Park Service. The ceremony will coincide with the 155th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas, the first major battle of the American Civil War, fought on July 21, 1861.

At 10 a.m., 40 candidates for U.S. citizenship, their families, friends and supporters will gather at the Henry Hill Visitor Center. The ceremony will take place on the grounds adjacent to the Visitor Center, where the heaviest action occurred during the First Battle of Manassas and within view of many key landmarks of the battlefield. The public is invited to attend and witness the ceremony.

Sarah Taylor, district director of the Washington District, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will offer opening remarks and administer the oath of allegiance. Park Superintendent Jon G. James will welcome attendees to the park, and National Capital Regional Director Bob Vogel will offer congratulatory remarks. The Honorable Barbara Comstock, U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, will give the keynote address. 

The National Park Service has spent the last 100 years serving as a stalwart sentinel for our most treasured and beautiful natural and historical lands and landmarks. In celebration of this achievement and in celebration of our country, USCIS is partnering with the NPS to hold more than 100 naturalization ceremonies on National Park sites in 2016.

This will be the second U.S. citizenship ceremony to be held in the Manassas area in less than a month. 

Hundreds filled the Hylton Performing Arts Center on June 29 and 30 and were sworn in as U.S. citizens. It was the first time the venue had been used for such an event. 

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