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News
First Lady Will Address Quantico High Grads

First Lady Michelle Obama

Quantico, Va. –– First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at this year’s graduation ceremony at Quantico High School.

The graduation ceremony will be held June 3, where Obama is expected to address the 26 members of the graduating class at the combination middle and high school, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The first lady is also expected to give commencement speeches at a handful of other colleges, including Spelman College and the University of Northern Iowa.

Obama last year delivered the commencement address to Anacostia High School in Washington.

Quantico Middle / High School is located on the marine base that shares its name.

News
Crash Victim Spent 22 Years in Army

Master Sgt. William Pitts was killed in a car crash Tuesday outside the main gate of Ft. Belvoir. (Submitted)

Ft. Belvoir, Va.  — An Oregon National Guard Soldier serving at Ft. Belvoir was killed in a Monday afternoon car crash, while driving home for a family dinner.

The victim, Army Master Sergeant William Scott Pitts, had more than 22 years in the military. He was posthumously promoted to master sergeant on Tuesday.

Colleagues at the National Guard Bureau remember him fondly, saying his strongest quality was how much of a family man he was to those he is survived by; his wife Vicki R. Pitts and their three children, daughters Crystal, 16, and Tonya, 9, and son Scott, 12.

A Memorial Ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Fort Belvoir Main Post Chapel, 12th and Belvoir Road, at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 25, with Old Guard members providing Honor Guard and Bugler support.

His family will hold a graveside service in the near future.

Pitts is the second U.S. serviceman to die in a crash along the same stretch of road in the last two weeks.

On March 14, 54-year-old Paul Krause was killed when a Honda Civic collided with his Ford Fusion sedan forcing it into oncoming traffic on Richmond Highway (U.S. 1).

Krause is also being remembered today and tomorrow.

A 33-year-old illegal immigrant, Carlos Ramos Lagos, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death.

-U.S. National Guard contributed to this report.

News
Chain Reaction Crash Leaves 1 Dead

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– A 48-year-old Ft. Belvoir man in dead after a crash Monday, and charges are anticipated for one of the drivers involved.

Fairfax County police this morning said a 32-year-old man was driving a Fastran shuttle bus on northbound U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir about 4 p.m. Monday when four cars in front of him slowed for a traffic light at Fairfax County Parkway.

The driver told police he did not see the light or the slowing cars and hit a 1995 Toyota Celica, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Shelly Broderick.

Inside of the Celica was the fatal victim in the crash, William S. Pitts, of Fort Belvoir Road, who was pronounced dead on the scene.

After shuttle bus collided with Pitts’ car, the impact caused a chain reaction forcing the Celica into the back of a 2004 Dodge pickup. That truck then hit a 2001 Dodge Caravan, which then hit a 2004 Chrysler sedan.

In all, eight people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later released.

Police have not filed charges or identified the driver of the Fastran bus, but said charges are anticipated.

This is the second fatal crash at the same spot on U.S. 1 in a week.

On March 14, 54-year-old Paul Krause was died when his sedan was struck by a Honda Civic, forcing it into oncoming traffic.

The driver of that Civic, 33-year-old Carlos Lagos Ramos, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and has been identified as an illegal immigrant here in the U.S.

Krause leaves behind a wife and three daughters.

News
Officials Talk Transit, Other Successes

Del. Luke Torian talks about recent legislative successes with Sen. Toddy Puller, Sen. Chuck Colgan (not pictured), and Del. Richard Anderson.

Woodbridge, Va. –– At the center of a General Assembly recap Thursday night was transportation.

Two state senators and two delegates met with residents at the Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge to talk about their recent successes during what was a shorter than normal legislative session in Richmond.

Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) was able to get passed a transit study for the U.S. 1 corridor from Alexandria to Quantico.

“I have Ft. Belvoir in my district and we need this study because we are going to get 20,000 new employees at Belvoir and 6,000 at Quantico,” said Puller. “I tried to get this initiative passed with the last two democratic governors, but this time around [Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R)] passed it.”

The study one of many new transportation initiatives that came out of the session, which also the passage of transportation plan that will allow the state to $4 billion for projects statewide.

Del. Luke Torian (D-52) lauded the extension of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes from his district in Dumfries to North Stafford.

“I am very glad the entrance to the HOV lanes is leaving here and will move south to Garrisonville Road, so people can enter the lanes in Stafford County instead of having to wait until they get to Prince William,” said Torian.

He also touted passed legislation that will allow the Prince William County Public Schools to distribute versions of their upcoming budget electronically, which will save money and the school system from mailing 70,000 paper versions each year, said Torian.

Del. Richard Anderson (R-52) has legislation waiting for McDonnell’s signature that would allow anyone who is discharged from the military to get in-state tuition in Virginia. Under the current system, discharged military members must wait for at least one year until they can receive in-state tuition benefits, which are much lower than what students pay for out-of-state tuition.

“With this measure, we get to keep a group of military veterans with a strong work ethic, get them in college, and then eventually get them into our workforce. Hopefully, the governor won’t veto it,” said Anderson.

Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-29) also came to the community meeting.

News
Renters in for Sticker Shock

It’s no secret that rental properties in the Potomac Communities are in high demand.

Some say it’s because of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure.

BRAC, as its known, is expected to bring more than 20,000 new military and federal workers to the Ft. Belvoir Army Garrison and Quantico Marine Corps Base, and landlords know those who relocate to these jobs will want to live where they work.

“At least two or three times a week I get an email request from someone relocating to the area. They want a reasonable commute to Fort Belvoir…access to public transportation to D.C. Easy enough to do. Then the hard part or perhaps the reality part hits. Most often they want a three or four bedroom detached home with a garage for under $2,000 a month. Unfortunately reality is the rental prices for a detached homes meeting this criteria starts closer to $2,300, and more likely will be $2,500 or more per month,” stated Woodbridge-based real estate agent Cindy Jones in her blog.

Jones says those who move here can opt for a longer commute time and choose to live in Prince William County to find a home at the $2,000 price point.

Northern Virginia is still a buyer’s market out there, real estate agents say.

It seems many people who are looking to rent still want to see if the market will go any lower, still waiting for their best deals, said Stafford real estate agent Rob Rachon.

“Purchasers are becoming wiser because people do not need to make decisions in one day if they want the home or risk losing it. If they lose out on that home, there will mostly likely be another one like it on the market next week,” said Rochon.

In Stafford, the market has yet to see a major influx of people relocating to the area because of BRAC. But they are coming, says Rochon.

“As people move down here for BRAC the pace will pick up, that’s going to bring more people to the area and fill jobs,” said Rochon.

News
Hotel Coming to Marine Museum

A new hotel will be built on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The museum complex is at the center of redevelopment efforts in Triangle. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Triangle, Va. –– A hotel will be built on the ground of the National Museum of the Marine Corps complex.

Announced today, the state-of-the art hotel will sit on 10 acres of land adjacent to the Marine museum that sits at the center of the U.S. 1 redevelopment in Triangle, and has long been planned as part of the developing complex.

The new hotel will bring new space for events and conferences, a full-service restaurant and lounge, indoor and outdoor pools, a business center, fitness room and gift shop.

“The development of this new facility is a tremendous step forward in completing our vision for the Marine Corps Heritage Center as a complex dedicated to the service of Marines,” said President & CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Lt.Gen Ron Christmas in a press release. “The addition of a hotel and conference center will not only advance the mission of the Marine Corps University, but also significantly benefit Marines and their families visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Quantico Marine Corps Base, as well as all visitors to the historic attractions of Prince William County.”

Also include in the complex’s master plan is a new office building and artifact restoration center.

The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the museum, was founded in 1979.

News
South Fairfax Pins New Development Around Town Centers

Lorton Station is a walk able, town center development in Lorton.

Fairfax County, Va. –– The future of south Fairfax may lay in the success of its destinations, like Woodlawn Plantation, Gunston Hall and Mt. Vernon.

These keystone locations are what have attracted new hotels like Hampton Inn and Spring Hill Suites to U.S. 1 corridor, planners say.

And with their proximity to Washington these destinations may entice military members and their families to relocate to south Fairfax as part of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.

“We’ve seen places like the Lorton Arts Center continues to develop and be a cultural center to our area. And they still have plenty of room and plans to expand there,” said Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation spokesman Tony Fontana.

Next month, SFDC will hold their first Retail Trends and Opportunities seminar focusing business in the Richmond Highway corridor.

The panelists for the event include a representative from the company that owns the 4-million square foot retail shopping mall, Beacon Center, on U.S. 1 – Senior Vice president of Retail Development for Saul Centers John Collich. It will also include the Principal of the Potomac Development Group Tom Maskey, and SFDC Board of Directors member Bruce Leonard.

The gathering aims to show the shift in marketing from the “baby boom” generation to the “X and Y” generation, said Fontana.

Redevelopment on the Richmond Highway will be centered around walk able town centers, differing from the old strip mall approach –– a form of construction in which many retailers say they have over marketed themselves in, said Fontana.

“We always encourage new development in the area, much like what Woodbridge has done with the Wegmans and the town center there. But some retailers feel they have over-retailed themselves and may not want to build additional locations,” said Fontana.

As part of BRAC, Ft. Belvoir stands to gain an additional 20,000 new federal employees and military members, as well as their families.

The seminar will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. April 13, at 5821 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, and advance registration is required.

Traffic
Truck Fire Delays Traffic

Triangle, Va. –– A tractor trailer caught fire this morning on Interstate 95 near the Quantico exit closing all southbound lanes of the highway.

The fire was doused at 9:31 a.m. and now only one lane of traffic is getting by the mess, said Prince William fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander.

Traffic cameras along they highway show traffic in the area stalled in both the north and soutbound directions.

Crews are working to clear the burnt truck from the highway.

Traffic
Suicidal Man, Crash Lead to U.S. 1 Delays

Fairfax Connector

Mt. Vernon, Va. –– A man who threatened to jump from an old railway bridge and car crash caused massive delays on U.S. 1 in south Fairfax County on Monday.

At 5:30 p.m., police were called to the area of Belvoir Court and U.S. 1, just north of the Fairfax County Parkway intersection, where a man threatened to jump from an unused railroad bridge that used to serve the Ft. Belvoir garrison.

Police closed the road to traffic in both directions as crisis intervention teams worked with the man, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.

After two hours, officers were able to talk the man down from the bridge. No one was injured and no charges were filed in the incident.

Earlier that afternoon about 4:30, a two car crash on U.S. 1 at Old Mill Road in the Mt. Vernon area also snarled traffic.

No one was seriously injured and crews had the mess cleaned up shortly after 5 p.m.

But the damage to Monday’s commute had been done.

Late last night, Fairfax Connector buses were reporting long delays on the 171 line, which runs between Lorton, Franconia-Springfield and the Huntington Metro stations.

Traffic in once again moving in the area without incident.

News
Suspicious Car Closes Tully Gate

Update 5 p.m.
Traffic is moving once again through the Tulley Gate at Ft. Belvoir.

The gate reopened at 3:35 p.m. after K-9 units were called to search a truck whose driver was attempting to get on base.

Four people inside the truck were searched, but nothing was found and the truck was cleared.

“As a safety precaution for our people and the surrounding communities, Tulley Gate was closed,” said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.

A portion of Pohick Road, between Gunston Road and U.S. 1 which had been closed, was also reopened following the search.

Original Post 3:30 p.m.
Ft. Belvoir, Va. ––
Authorities were called to Ft. Belvoir’s Tully Gate this afternoon to search a suspicious car.

K-9 units were dispatched to search the vehicle – its contents still unclear.

No one was injured, but the search prompted the closure of the gate, as well as a portion of Pohick Road – from U.S. 1 to Gunston Road.

All incoming and outgoing traffic has been diverted to Pence Gate.

Drivers should expect delays in the area if the closure continues through the afternoon rush hour, said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.

More as we get it.

News
No Power for Some Belvoir Residents

Villages at Belvoir

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– One neighborhood at Ft. Belvoir will be without power today.

Officials say Dominion Virginia will replace a defective underground switch that provides electricity to one neighborhood in the Villages at Belvoir.

Residents who live in Cedar Grove Village are scheduled to be without power between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. today.

“We understand Dominion is replacing a transformer that is so old power regularly goes out there,” said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.

The work is expected to be finished today.

News
Closings and Delays

Fairfax County Public Schools opening TWO HOURS LATE. Offices opening on time.

Prince William County Public Schools CLOSED. Code Red for employees.

Stafford County Public Schools opening TWO HOURS LATE.

Ft. Belvoir is OPEN under UNSCHEDULED LEAVE.

DoD School Quantico OPENING TWO HOURS LATE

Quantico Marine Corps Base opening ON TIME

Virginia Railway Express operating ON TIME.

News
Belvoir gas leak contained

Update 4:00 p.m.
The gas leak that prompted evacuations this morning at Ft. Belvoir has been fixed.

By 2:45 p.m., utility crews from Washington Gas completed their repair of a four-inch gas main that ruptured in the town center area of the Army base.

Residents, business owners and their employees have been allowed to return to the areas that were cordoned off about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Traffic was also affected by the gas main break: Drivers on Gunston Road south of the affected area will be diverted onto Theote Road where they can link with Pohick Road. (more…)

News
Belvoir celebrates Black History Month

By David N. Britt
dbritt@potomaclocal.com

The U.S. Army at Ft. Belvoir has a plan to help you reinforce the importance of National Black History Month to children and yourself.

On Tuesday, the Ft. Belvoir Officers Club will welcome Hari Jones of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum.

Mr. Jones plans to share his wealth of his knowledge of African American’s who have served their country in and out of uniform during and after the Civil War.  (more…)

News
Quantico center asks for rezoning

North Stafford, Va. –– The developer of the Quantico Corporate Center has asked Stafford County officials for a rezoning that would allow for office, retail and commercial space.

The developing center, at Boswell’s Corner in North Stafford, has done well amidst a down economy, and stands to blossom further when the military’s BRAC relocation is complete later this year.

The Fredericksburg Free-Lane Star has more.

News
Quantico to restrict boaters

The Iwo Jima statue greets visitors to Quantico Marine Corps Base in Triangle. (Mary Davidson)

Quantico, Va. –– Boaters keep away from Quantico Marine Corps Base.

New restrictions will go into effect March 7 along the Potomac River that will effectively bar any boat from coming within 500 feet of the base’s shoreline.

Base officials say the restriction will be put in place to protect military assets and for the safety of boaters who could be in the wake of jets taking off and landing from Quantico’s air facility, base spokesman Lt. Brian Villard stated in an email.

The restrictions will extend from the marsh at the Marine Corps Air Facility to the mouth of the Chopawamsic Creek, including Chopawamsic Island. (more…)

News
Boom, boom, Quantico

The Iwo Jima statue greets visitors to Quantico Marine Corps Base in Triangle. (Mary Davidson)

Quantico, Va. –– The next two nights will be noisy near Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. today and tomorrow, Marines will be training by exploding large munitions.

On Wednesday night, loud booms could be heard all along the Interstate 95 corridor in the Potomac Communities and prompted questions about what was going on from our followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Fear not as the world as we know it is still intact, but base officials warn overcast conditions could increase the noise and vibrations from the blasts.

It’s a good thing the National Weather Service calls for mostly clear skies on Thursday.

News
Quantico officials target road improvements

Tom Rumora of the Quantico Growth Management Committee addresses officials from Prince William and Stafford counties.

Triangle, Va. –– Quantico Marine Corps Base had no choice but to prepare for the massive influx of federal workers set to descend upon the area in September, said base commander Col. Daniel J. Choike.

While construction is complete on a $300 million, 700,000 square-foot building on Telegraph Road that will hold several security agencies, looming traffic problems still concern officials and community developers who want more federal workers to relocate to the region after the military’s BRAC transition is complete.

A wider U.S. 1 and better communication with community leaders and residents are all ways officials plan to manage growth near the base. (more…)

Traffic
VRE’s week off to slow start

Woodbridge, Va. –– Delays this morning have plagued Virginia Railway Express passengers on the system’s Fredericksburg line.

Riders got early word from the transit system that train 308, which departs Fredericksburg at 6:30 a.m., was going to be late because of mechanical issues. It wasn’t long after that the train had been canceled altogether and riders told they could board Metro for free, by showing a valid VRE ticket.

In addition to the Metro option, riders still waiting on station platforms in Quantico and Woodbridge had the option to take an Amtrak train in place of the canceled VRE train as far as Union Station in Washington.

The next VRE train following the one that was canceled, train 312, was rolling along at 8 a.m. albeit 20 minutes behind its regular schedule.

News
Fallen soldier to be remembered Friday

Sgt. Zaniah Creamer and her working animal, Joffa. (Submitted)

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– Members of the U.S. Army will gather Friday to remember a soldier who served her country in Afghanistan, and her community at Ft. Belvoir.

A memorial service for 28-year-old Sgt. Zaniah Creamer will be held at the Woodlawn Chapel from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., remembering the military police officer who was killed last week when a bomb exploded.

Creamer handled bomb-sniffing dogs and was killed when one exploded. Her animal survived the blast, said a base official.

She served in the Army for six years and was part of her unit at Ft. Belvoir since October 2009, said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.

This was Creamer’s third tour duty while in the Army.

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