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Prince William says it has a legal case over toxic water treat and release

Prince William County is lawyering up for a potential fight against Virginia Dominion Power’s controversial plan to treat and flush more than 200 million gallons of toxic coal-ash water into Quantico Creek.

Insidenova.com first reported the story. 

Virginia’s Water Control Board on January 14 approved Dominion Virginia Power’s plan to treat the toxic water and release it into the Potomac River. 

News
Toxic water to be treated, released into Potomac River

Dominion Virginia Power was given a green light this morning to begin de-watering toxic ash ponds near Quantico.

Virginia’s Water Control Board met outside Richmond and approved a permit that allows the energy giant to treat waters consolidated into one of five coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station, and then release it into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

The decision comes after multiple local, state, and federal agencies asked for more time to review the plans.

“This is my fifth year on the Water Control Board, and I’ve never seen so many stakeholders, including government entities, request more time for review,” said Roberta Kellar, the one dissenter in today’s vote by the Board. (more…)

News
Possum Point decision expected this week; Feds urge delay

A decision could come this week to allow toxic water at Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries to be treated and released into Potomac River.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Richmond to review a permit to allow plant owner Dominion Virginia Power to treat and release from coal ash ponds into the river, and Quantico Creek.

Several legislators, and officials from Maryland — the state that owns the Potomac River — urge to Control Board to allow for more time to review the proposal.

Dominion seeks to consolidate the contents of five coal ash ponds at Possum Point into one pond. The water from the fifth pond would be treated and drained into the Potomac River and Quantico Creek, and the pond capped and closed much like a landfill is at the end of its life. (more…)

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“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Building a Business is a Team Effort — With a Little Help From Our Friends

My first lesson in the value of mentors came early – and hard. On July 3rd, 1985, I was enduring the first grueling week (called “Ground Week”) of the U.S. Army Airborne School. My Student ID – printed boldly across my helmet – was 141 (yes, 30 years later I remember my Student Number).

No matter the reason, I was a “NO GO” and did not qualify to advance to the second week (Tower Week) of training. The choice was mine – give up or repeat Ground Week.

Ugh! I wanted to quit, to give up, go back home and drink some beer with my friends and work so I could actually afford my next year of college expenses. Worse yet, if I decided to repeat Ground Week my Student ID label on my helmet would become 141”G” and everyone would know that I was “recycled.”

One of my Airborne Drill Instructors (we called them “Black Hats” ( I’ll leave you to guess why) came over and said to me) “Cadet, I know you are thinking about quitting. Heck I would be thinking it too if I were you.”  (more…)

News
Marine Corps Museum to close for 3 months starting Jan. 4

Marine Corps Museum

The installation of a new aircraft will mean the closure of the National Museum of the Marine Corps starting Monday.

A World War II SBD Dauntless dive bomber will be added to the museum’s collection of artifacts that tell the history of the Marine Corps from the founding of the U.S. through the Vietnam War. The aircraft will be hung from the ceiling of the central gallery.

The museum will close from Jan. 4 to March 31, 2016, for the installation project. Outside the museum, an outdoor playground, the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, it’s nearby memorials, and pathways on the museum grounds is expected to remain open during construction. A museum gift shop will continue to operate online during the closure.

“While we never like to close the doors of our Museum, this process will better enable us to tell the stories of every American who has earned the title ‘Marine,” remarked LtGen Robert R. Blackman, Jr., President and CEO of the Foundation in a press release. “Marine Corps history is American history, and we look forward to sharing these impressive pieces of our past with visitors from across the country and around the world.”

The museum is undergoing an expansion in addition to the new aircraft and upcoming closure. A new 128,000 square-foot addition is being added that will feature a new art gallery, a large-format 350-seat theatre, and a new exhibit that will tell the story of Marine Corps operations from the 1980s to today.

A Hall of Valor will be added to showcase Medal of Honor recipients. The addition is expected to cost $69 million and complete the circle layout building designers originally envisioned for the structure. Construction should be completed in 2017.

The Marine Corps Museum opened at Quantico in 2006. It has welcomed more than 3 million visitors since that time. Admission to the museum is free.

News
Stewart ‘disgusted’ with coal ash plan moving ahead

stewart, prince william, supervisor

A deadline for public comments on a plan to treat and release toxic water into the Potomac River has come and gone.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors asked for a 60-day extension of a public comment period ending December 14 for the Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries and Quantico where water from coal ash ponds have been seeping into tributaries for years.

If the comment period was not extended, the Board threatened it would not support a request from Dominion Virginia Power to treat and release toxic water from coal ash ponds — a byproduct left over from when the power plant burned coal before 2003 — into the Potomac River.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing Dominion’s request, and would ultimately monitor a toxic water treat and release process at the site. The agency did not extend the comment period.

“Dominion is running roughshod over regulations in Virginia…they’re acting like a very bad corporate citizen,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. “No one ever thought Dominion and the state would collude to pollute the river.”

Stewart said he was “disgusted” with the thought of releasing water once contained in toxic ponds at the site of the power plant into Quantico Creek, which will flow into Potomac River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.

The toxic wastewater ponds date back to the 1950s. Of the five ponds at Possum Point, only two are still wet. Coal ash was dug up from three dry ponds and placed into one of two wet ponds earlier this year.

Dominion’s ultimate goal: Pump all remaining water into one pond and treat, and then release the water. The remaining coal ash would be buried, and the pond would be capped off, similarly to the closure of a landfill.

“There’s everything that we believe, based on science, that this will work,” Virginia DEQ chief David Paylor told a room of concerned citizens and politicians who gathered last month at DEQ’s Northern Virginia headquarters in Woodbridge.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet January 14 in Glen Allen, Virginia to consider approving the plan to treat and release the toxic water.

Dominion says their company is following the permitting rules and timeline set by DEQ and the federal government.

“All these type of requests have a time limit imposed on them,” said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest. The EPA set forth new guidelines this year that state they want these types of ponds closed in three years, and we want to do so to protect the environment and water quality.”

News
Olaun Simmons works as town attorney for Dumfries, Quantico

Only on Potomac Local 

Olaun Simmons will serve both the towns of Dumfries and Quantico as the Town Attroney.

Simmons is employed by the Town of Dumfries and is paid a part-time salary of $89,144, according to the town budget. Simmons works 32 hours per week at Dumfries.

Quantico contracted with Simmons in September and had agreed to pay Simmons $200 per hour, said Quantico Town Clerk Rita Frazier.

Boyd, Leahy, and Franceson Lawyers in Manassas had been contracted to provide legal services to the town until they resigned, said Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown. The law firm declined to speak with Potomac Local for this story.

Simmons is exited about serving both towns. He submitted this statement to Potomac Local via email: 

I can confirm that I am the new Town Attorney for the Town of Quantico, and it is truly an honor to be able serve the Town of Quantico in this capacity. I accepted the position for the Town Attorney for the Town of Quantico on October 13, 2015, and I plan to serve in this capacity for as long as Council will have me as their attorney. 
 
I have been the Town Attorney for the Town of Dumfries since November 2013, and I am still the Town Attorney for the Town of Dumfries. I am enjoying my tenure as the Town Attorney for Dumfries and I will serve Dumfries in this capacity as long as Council will have me as their attorney.  It’s been an honor to serve the Town of Dumfries as the Town Attorney, and I’m really enjoying working with Town Council and the Town Manager as they continue to move the Town is a positive direction.

Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown identified Simmons this morning in a posted on the town’s Facebook page, noting Simmons would be directed to look into what options the Town of Quantico has when it comes to delaying a decision to treat toxic water at the Possum Point Power Station and release it into the Potomac River.

Kevin Brown posted this on Quantico’s Facebook page:

This afternoon I submitted a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requesting that they delay approving Dominion Virginia Power’s permit request for (90) days. I made this request for two reasons (1) first, we needed more time to ensure our residents were aware of Dominion’s plan to release millions of gallons of contaminated industrial waste water into Quantico Creek and our Potomac River, (2) and secondly, we need more time to research the specifics of their permit request and try to find out what they intend to put in the water.

Simmons has worked for the Town of Dumfries and has taken up several issues, to include developing a new parking ordinance for the town, pursuing legal action against owners of blighted properties, and working on a new agreement between the town and the owners of Potomac Landfill, a construction debris dump in the town.

Announcing the new 55+ Active Adult Membership at the Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center is very excited to announce our new Active Adult membership.

This membership is exclusively designed for individuals 55-64 years old and is only $15/month with 6 and 12 month options. The membership includes access to the gymnasium, pool, and wellness centers as well as all land and water group exercise classes, one fitness orientation, one fitness assessment, and two 30 minute personal training sessions.

This exciting new membership was created based on member feedback and proven demand over the last couple years. Until now our only Active Adult membership option was our Senior Passport membership which is only $30/year. However, this membership is only available for individuals 65 years and older.

As the senior programming became increasingly popular requests to expand our membership offerings also grew. The result was the creation of the new Active Adult membership.

Trying to stay fit? The Active Adult membership includes a number of wellness based classes!

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Senior Strength and Stretch offers a challenging workout that is low impact, but still meets your fitness needs.

Mixed gentle yoga focuses on your core and improves balance with easy-going, gentle yoga poses.

Aquasize is a water based exercise class that offers muscle toning in a low impact environment.

One of our most popular programs is Pickleball which is described as a combination of tennis and badminton.

Looking to learn something new or meet new people? Going Global is an opportunity to experience the diversity within our communities where you can learn about a variety of cultures through photos, stories, and food.

Piano/keyboard lessons offer a chance to explore your musical side whether you’re a beginner or a novice.

If you’re crafty, Social Knitting and Crafting for a Cause are two programs where you can learn to knit or crochet while creating projects for yourself or others to donate. The monthly senior potluck allows you to reconnect with friends in a casual environment.

Easy Gourmet is a hands-on cooking class where you learn to make quick and easy fourfive ingredient recipes.

Road Trip 66 State-to-State is a program where you can experience the diversity of our own country – think of it as a domestic Going Global! All of these programs and more are included in the new Active Adult membership!

Come meet our Senior Recreation Specialist, Bethiah Shuemaker, who has been at the forefront of creating all new senior programs for spring!

We hope to see you soon here at the Manassas Park Community Center!

News
Wreaths will be laid at Quantico National Cemetery

Volunteers will lay wreaths at Quantico National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Quantico National Cemetery will host Wreaths Across America, a holiday wreath-laying ceremony to honor and remember our nation’s Veterans. The Civil Air Patrol, Veterans service organizations and citizens are coordinating the event to honor Veterans of each branch of the military, the Merchant Marine as well as Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action (POW/MIA).

Members of the Civil Air Patrol, representatives from the military services, Veterans and their families will participate in the event

The event begins Dec. 12, 2015, at noon at Quantico National Cemetery located at 18424 Joplin Rd in Triangle.

The Worcester Wreath Company, through a campaign called Wreaths Across America, began donating holiday wreaths in tribute to Veterans laid to rest at VA’s national cemeteries and state Veterans cemeteries in 2006. Since 1992, they have donated wreaths for gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery. The Civil Air Patrol is once again coordinating wreath ceremonies around the country as a part of Wreaths Across America.

Visit the Wreaths Across America website more information on this event.

News
Residents on Potomac River Coal Ash Plan: We weren’t notified

Coal ash

Virginia environmental officials took questions Tuesday night from the public about a plan to treat toxic water and drain it into the Potomac River.

Residents who live near Dominion Virginia Power’s Possum Point Power Station outside Dumfries and across from Quantico say they’re fearful of the plan, which could lead to higher than normal levels of heavy metals in Quantico Creek and Potomac River that would flow downstream to the Chesapeake Bay.

Those waters would be drained from a large coal ash pond at the power plant called “D pond.”

Coal ash is what’s left behind after coal is burned to create electricity. Possum Point switched to gas technology and stopped burning coal in 2003. Coal ash has been stored in water ponds at the site since the 1950s.

Dominion says it must get the water out of “D Pond” before it can cap and close it. Virginia’s Water Control Board is set to vote January 14 on final approval of a permit, written by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality that will set limits on the levels of toxic materials allowed in the water if the toxic water treatment and drainage begins.

DEQ will stop accepting public comments on the permit on December 14.

A toe drain at Possum Point has been draining water from a coal ash pond, groundwater from a natural dam containing the water in the coal ash pond, and storm water, for about 50 years, said Virginia DEQ spokesman Bryant Taylor.

The draft permit does not set safe limits on the amount of heavy metals that may come out of that drain. It does set maximum limits on 14 “toxics” commonly found in coal ash, including arsenic, cadmium and zinc.

The permit will require monitoring of sediment and water at the toe drain site to occur weekly. Dominion must monitor levels of heavy metals and report back to state officials, per the permit written by DEQ.

“We’ve done tests in the area of the toe drain that show higher than normal toxins int he water, and you have that data,” Potomac River Keeper Vice President Nick Nutter told Virginia Department of Environmental Quality officials.

The tests of sediment and water taken around the toe drain do show higher than permitted levels of heavy metals, but there is some “uncertainty to that data,” added DEQ officials.

Fishing advisories are frequently issued for the Potomac River warning fishermen not to eat carp, American eel, and catfish they catch, said Taylor. In November, Taylor told Potomac Local there are not accelerated levels of heavy metals in the water or the sediment at the toe drain.

Working under a permit issued in 2013, Dominion moved coal ash from four other ponds at the power plant into “D Pond” where they wish to drain it, between May and October 2015. The movement consolidation of the ash is the impetus for the new permit.

Some asked if water has been leaking out of the toe drain for 50 years, what is the need for the new permit now being considered.

“The recent stirring up of the ash is not aligned with [the drainage that’s been] going on during the past 50 years,” said Taylor.

Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown told DEQ officials his town council and residents were not notified of the plan to allow Dominion to treat and maintain the water. DEQ officials confirmed they notified Town of Dumfries officials, but not those in Quantico.

“I’m going to consult with our town’s legal council and see what options we have to delay this action,” said Brown. “January 14 is just not enough time for us.”

Several residents at Tuesday’s meeting noted a lack of communication from DEQ notifying them of Dominion’s permit request. The agency held a two-hour public meeting November 18 at the request of elected officials to answer questions from the public on the plan.

Prince William County Public Works chief Mark Aveni said the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking for a 60-day extension of the public comment period on the Possum Point permit.

“If the comment period is not extended, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will oppose the issuance of the permit,” said Aveni.

Delegate Scott Surovell said he, along with elected officials in Fairfax County, requested a 60-day extension on the public comment period but were denied. 

The process of treating the coal ash water and draining it would be a first for Dominion. The company is in talks with a third party about using a large sand filter to treat the water and then to release it, said Dominion Director of Electricity and Environment Cathy Taylor.

The treating and drainage of water at Possum Point would begin shortly after Dominion’s permit is approved. Once the pond is drained leaving behind coal ash, a synthetic liner will be put in place in at the pond, then 18 inches of soil, and then a 6-inch vegetation layer that will have plants and grasses, said Taylor.

If Dominion’s permit is approved, other utility companies will monitor how Dominion’s treatment process to learn best practices, said Taylor.

More than 50 people attended the public hearing at the Northern Virginia Regional DEQ Headquarters in Woodbridge. It was the final public hearing scheduled before the state Water Control Board’s vote on Jan. 14, 2016.

Aurora Flight Sciences launches world’s first 3D-printed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

A 3D printed drone

Ten years ago it might have been hard for many people to imagine being able to send a digital file to a printer and producing a three-dimensional object. However, this advanced technology is becoming more widely used in many different industries and is inspiring innovations like 3D-printed cars that can drive and medical devices that can save lives.

Today, Manassas-based Aurora Flight Sciences is taking this technology one step further. The company unveiled the world’s largest and fastest 3D-printed, unmanned aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in November. This high-speed, jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flies faster than 150 miles per hour.

Aurora partnered with Stratasys Ltd., a 3D printing and additive manufacturing company, to design and produce an aircraft using 3D-printed, lightweight plastics and metal. This UAV was developed in half the time it typically takes using traditional manufacturing methods.

By using 3D printers, Aurora’s aerospace engineers can build customized products quicker and produce them more cost effectively, which creates new opportunities for the company. For example, the U.S. Air Force recently announced an initiative called “Affordable, Attritable Aircraft” to significantly reduce aircraft procurement costs. The development of lower-cost, 3D-printed UAVs will make it more “affordable” for the military to lose a drone in combat situations.

“Part of the Air Force’s challenge is to separate manufacturing costs from production rate and quantity,” says Dan Campbell, Aerospace Research Engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences. “3D printing is a major enabler of meeting their needs.”

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, uses a “materials printer” to produce a three-dimensional object from a computer model. The printer builds the object by placing layers of a material on top of each other. Aurora and Stratasys mostly used a strong thermoplastic that is resistant to heat and chemicals to build their UAV. The materials that they chose significantly reduce the aircraft’s weight but still meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirements for flame, smoke, and toxicity. The UAV has a 9-foot wingspan and only weighs 33 pounds.

“Whether by air, water, or on land, lightweight vehicles use less fuel. This enables companies to lower operational costs as well as to reduce environmental impact,” says Scott Sevcik, Aerospace & Defense Senior Business Manager for Stratasys. “Using only the exact material needed for production is expected to reduce acquisition cost by eliminating waste and reducing scrap and recycling costs.”

Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys began working together through the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory program. For four years, the two companies have been collaborating on developing novel materials and design methods for manufacturing small aircraft using 3D printing.

Having already achieved similar success with unmanned aircraft developed under Department of Defense-funded programs, the Aurora and Stratasys team is excited to publicly demonstrate their achievements. The internally funded UAV showcased at the Dubai Airshow was developed specifically to demonstrate their technology and show the world what can be done with 3D printing and aerospace engineering.

Aurora Flight Sciences, which was founded in 1989, has its headquarters in the City of Manassas and is a long-standing member of the business community. This leading developer and manufacturer of UAVs and aerospace vehicles has won industry recognition and awards for its cutting-edge technology.

Aurora is one of the top ten employers in the City with 188 staff members who are active volunteers with civic organizations and STEM education programs. Since 2003, Aurora has been giving back to the community by supporting the Team America Rocketry Challenge, a national student rocket design contest, through sponsorship and mentoring of local middle and high school teams.

The company has grown considerably over the years and has expanded several times to include production plants in West Virginia and Mississippi; a research and development center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where it collaborates with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and a new office in California’s Silicon Valley at Mountain View.

This post is written by the City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city in a paid content partnership with Potomac Local.

News
Quantico to use scanners for security screenings at base gates

Those coming aboard Quantico Marine Corps Base will have their IDs scanned beginning in January.

The new security measure comes as Quantico upgrades the equipment and processes used at the base’s entrance gates. A new system called RAPIDGate will be installed, and everyone entering the base — including visitors to Quantico Town — will have their IDs scanned with electronic security scanners.

Once scanned, the information on the ID is entered into a computer system and then reviewed in the RAPIDGate database. The security check will alert guards at the gate if the person is on a terrorist watchlist, a debarment list, or if they’ve had their privileges revoked.

The types of IDs that will be accepted at the gate include include common access cards, transportation worker identification card, TESLIN brand ID cards, and state drivers licenses.

“These changes to our access control procedures will improve the installation’s overall security posture, though the process will require additional time at the gates to scan each credential. Consequently, there may be minor delays associated with the implementation of this system.” said Lance Hunziker, Quantico Marine Corps Base critical infrastructure protection manager.

The new system cannot solve all of the base’s securtiy challenges.

“Automated access control systems are not new to the Marine Corps. Marine Corps Installations Command chose to deploy RAPIDGate as an interim solution, because until recently, the technology had not been developed that met all DoD guidelines,” said Pete Russett, director installation protection branch, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region.

“Though not the final solution for automated access control, this system fills a gap in security and provides us with more capabilities than we currently have.”

Vendors, especially those who makes deliveries to the base, can enroll in the RAPIDGate program.

Here’s more in a press release:

Rollout of the RAPIDGate program and equipment has been funded through Marine Corps Installations Command. Contractors, venders, and service providers interested in using the RAPIDGate system are responsible for registration and signup cost. The base policy states that all commercial vehicles (box-truck size and larger), not enrolled in RAPIDGate, shall continue to utilize a one-time pass granted to each vehicle after completing a security inspection.

Contractors who choose to participate in the voluntary program will receive a CAC-like (Personal Identity Verification Interoperable, PIV-I) credential. This credential will allow them to be instantly checked at the gates and granted access, while avoiding the requirement for a vehicle inspection. The cost associated with enrollment and participation in the RAPIDGate program will be borne by the contractor.

Vendors, suppliers and service providers are a large part of traffic coming aboard the base. Those who regularly access the base will receive a letter explaining the details about use and enrollment into RAPIDGate.

Access control procedures and inspections for large commercial vehicles currently take place at the commercial vehicle inspection lot adjacent to the Ponderosa-Y Gate. Operators of commercial vehicles can voluntarily apply for a RAPIDGate long-term access pass to streamline the inspection process and speed access onto the installation.

The new RAPIDGate system is expected to be in place Jan. 11, 2016.

News
Treat and release: What Dominion wants to do with toxic water at Possum Point

The Possum Point Power Station opened in 1948 as a coal-burning facility, generating electricity for the region.

Coal, when burnt, leaves behind coal ash — a fine powdery, toxic substance. That ash was placed in five ash ponds surrounding the power plant.

Dominion Virginia Power owns and operates Possum Point Power Stations on the banks of the Potomac River outside Dumfries, but it hasn’t burnt coal since 2003. It now uses natural gas and oil to generate electricity.

The plant is in the process of capping those ash ponds. Water from a final pond will treated and drained into the Quantico Creek and then will flow into the Potomac River. Only two of the five coal ash ponds remain — three have been dry since the 1960s.

A 2013 permit allowed Dominion to dig up coal ash from the three old dry ponds and move it to the largest of the five ponds on the site, D-Pond. Some coal ash from E Pond was also moved to D-Pond, as allowed by the permit.

The coal ash movement took place between June and Octobert of this year. Now, Dominion wants to treat the water in D-Pond, scrub it of deadly toxins contained in the ash, and release the water into Quantico Creek where it will flow into the Potomac River.

The utility behemoth will need a permit to do so, and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is now taking public comments about Dominion’s request to treat the ash water and eventually flow it — about 2.53 million gallons of water per day — into the river. If approved, DEQ will add an amendment to Dominion’s 2013 permit that allows it to move the coal ash.

If all goes to plan, water in the ponds will be treated and drained, and the ponds “capped” and closed, and filled with dirt.

“Once the final permit conditions are finalized, a waste water treatment system will be selected. The discharge will be routed through the treatment system prior to discharge. DEQ will develop limits for specific constituents that are associated with discharges. These limits are developed using conservative EPA and DEQ procedures that will ensure that the receiving stream and human health are protected. Monitoring of the discharges will occur to ensure that these limits are met,” said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet Jan. 14, 2016 to decide whether or not to allow Dominion to drain the water. The change would amend a permit issued in 2013 that allowed Dominion to consolidate ash from all five ponds into one, and then drain treated water from the final pond into the Potomac River.

Written public comments are being accepted by Virginia DEQ until December 14. A public hearing at the DEQ Northern Virginia Regional Office, located at 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge, will be held at 6 p.m. December 8.

How the coal ash is being moved

Coal ash is grey and dark. It turns to sludge when placed into a ash pond, said Bryant Thomas, with the Virginia DEQ Northern Virginia Regional Office.

There are five ponds at the Possum Point site. All of them are identified by letter: A, B, C, D, and E.

Ponds A, B, and C haven’t been used since the mid-1960s. Coal ash was buried in the ponds, and then dirt was used to cover, or cap the ponds. Trees and bushes now grow on the land, and power lines were strung overhead.

Between June and mid-October, crews at Possum Point have been digging up dirt and coal ash from ponds A through C and moving the ash into Pond D — the largest of two remaining ash ponds at the site. Some ash from Pond E — located next to Pond D, and easily seen from Possum Point Road — is being moved into Pond D.

A 2013 permit allows Dominion to consolidate the coal ash into one pond. The ash is toxic, and chemicals contained in the ash have been linked to causing cancer, neurological disease, respiratory illness, and organ disease. 

Treating the water

Waters from ponds D and E is largely contained by earthen berms. Some water from the ponds drains into Quantico Creek from two small toe drains or outfalls.

The water and sediment from around the toe drains are consistently monitored by DEQ, said Thomas. The sediment in the water contains elevated levels of copper, nickel, and zinc. However, elevated levels of those elements are not detected in the water.

“A domino effect is possible, where the detected elements in sediment could affect the water column, but we’re just not seeing that,” said Thomas.

Dominion says it has the experience to do the job correctly.

“We have benchmarked with other companies that are closing ash ponds and are applying best practices. Firms to complete the work were evaluated and a firm selected based on experience and performance in conducting similar work. We have project oversight to ensure the project is completed in compliance, focusing on safety and according to the design,” said Genest.

DEQ is now taking public comments on defines appropriate levels of metals are allowed in the waters of Quantico Creek and the Potomac River near Possum Point. DEQ would require Dominion to test regularly the waters for as long as it deems necessary, and then report their findings to the state.

Such self-reporting requirements are common in cases like these as Dominion could rack up several penalties that could lead to major fines if incorrect information on water contaminants is given to state authorities, said Thomas.

A large “Brita like” filter would be used to treat the water that would eventually flow into the creek.

“It could take months to drain,” added Thomas.

News
Quantico gets first new police cruiser since 1995

The Town of Quantico Police Department has its first new police vehicle in 20 years.

Here’s more in a press release written by Town of Quantico Mayor David Brown:  

On 20 Oct 2015 the Town of Quantico received a new police cruiser purchased with grant funding received from the Office of the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Transfer Program.

The new cruiser is a 2016 Ford Explorer outfitted with industry standard law enforcement equipment and is the first new police cruiser purchased by the town since 1995.

The town has been working with the Office of the Attorney General since February 2014 to ensure the town would benefit from the available grant funding.

I would like to thank Chief John Clair for his efforts in identifying this grant opportunity and submitting the grant application which resulted in this new vehicle.

I would also like to thank Mr. Mark Fero from the Office of the Attorney General who assisted the chief throughout the process.

The addition of this new police cruiser is a  big win for the Town of Quantico and our police department.

This new police cruiser not only provides a more reliable vehicle for our officers but also improves officer safety and helps to promote a more professional image for the Quantico Police Department.

It also fits into the town’s plans to increase its emergency and disaster preparedness posture by providing new capabilities such as a 9,000 pound winch and an on-board power converter.

On behalf of the town council and the residents of the Town of Quantico, I would like to thank the Office of the Attorney General for approving our grant application.

Receiving this grant will allow the town to keep the majority of its police department funding focused on keeping officers on the streets and keeping Quantico safe.

It is the town’s understanding that the funding for the grant resulted from a Medicaid fraud settlement during Ken Cuccinelli’s term as AG of Virginia.

The vehicle was purchased from Sheehy Auto Sales, Municipal Sales & Service Center of North Chesterfield, VA for $40,333.00.

The town also celebrated another milestone this year. The town’s streets were paved for the first time in 30 years.

Leave the stress of the season behind! Shop Small in the City of Manassas

 

Shop for olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items

When it comes to holiday shopping, you can choose between two completely different experiences next week.

On Black Friday, you can rise before the sun and get ready to fight frenzied crowds. You can endure long lines as you frantically attempt to snag limited-time, mega deals on big-ticket items.

Or, on Small Business Saturday, you can instead enjoy a leisurely day browsing independently owned businesses, discovering unique gifts and specialty items, enjoying attentive customer service, and sitting down for a relaxing meal with friends and family.

There are many independently owned shops across the City of Manassas where fantastic, one-of-a-kind gifts are waiting for you on Saturday, November. 28.

In Historic Downtown Manassas, retailers will open early at 9 a.m. to welcome shoppers through their doors. You can park once and stroll for hours while finding something for everyone.  To get an idea of the wide range of retailers in the downtown, take a look at VisitManassas.org’s merchant directory.

Explore specialty boutiques that offer premium food from wine to olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items. Leave the stress of the season behind! In between your purchases, pick up a warm beverage, take a spin around the ice-skating rink at the Harris Pavilion, and enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the independently owned restaurants.

If you have history buffs on your list, there is no better place to visit than Echoes, the Manassas Museum shop. It features a wide array of merchandise that celebrates local history and culture. From children’s toys to Civil War collectibles to souvenirs – you will find many distinctive presents here that are not available elsewhere.

For shoppers pressed for time, a drive along Liberia Avenue to The Shops at Signal Hill, the Fairview Shopping Center, and the Davis Ford Crossing Shopping Center will offer you the convenience of running errands, buying groceries, and shopping “small.”

Discoveries here will delight the people on your list who hard to shop for. You can find gifts for antique seekers, archers, coin and military memorabilia collectors, art enthusiasts, cyclists, foodies, and cigar connoisseurs. And, you can save time by not cooking and stopping into one of the ethnic eateries or your other local favorites here.

If you are cruising down Centreville Road, don’t miss stopping into one of the antique shops that could very well have that rare piece you have been looking for. There are also several niche boutiques that can satisfy very specific wish lists – like bowling supplies, dancewear, signature pieces of jewelry, and vinyl records.

The desire to “buy local” has been growing in popularity over the years. American Express, the force behind Small Business Saturday, estimates that shoppers spent a total of $14.3 billion at independent businesses in 2014. This spending significantly impacts a community. Studies have shown that for every $100 that is spent at an independently owned business, approximately $45 is re-spent in the local community. This is often because those business owners live locally and recirculate their earnings back into their hometowns, conduct business with other local establishments, make charitable donations, and put local employees on their payrolls.

On the flip side, for every $100 spent at a national chain business, only approximately $14 goes back to the local community.

For shoppers who love spending time at independent businesses, shifting a portion of their holiday dollars will make a difference in supporting their community and their favorite merchants. Show your love for your favorite shops and choose Small Business Saturday next week!

Flexible. Comforting. Helpful. What it takes to be an in-home Care Giver

It can take weeks for someone to get used to being cared for inside of their home.

The needs of seniors can change from week to week, or instantly. Marcus Evans, a Care Giver at Home Instead Senior Care in Manassas, makes it his job to know his client’s needs and to make them feel right at home. A typical day for Evans consists of starting the day early and meeting with clients, many of whom he considers his friends.

“I grow very attached to people when I take care of them,” said Evans, “and it’s something that’s personal for me.”

Knowing the needs of the client

Evans reviews his schedule for that particular day so that he knows what client he is meeting what time he needs to be there. Evans arrives at the house often earlier than he is scheduled so that he can provide extra help.

“I think it’s a relief for them when I arrive,” said Evans, “because they’re just so used to not having helped or anyone around the house.” Evans introduces himself and evaluates the client’s Plan of Care, a guide that tells Evans what he needs to do for that client including small projects.

“It can be anything. Sometimes it’d be something as simple as putting in a light bulb that they couldn’t reach, or sometimes it might be helping them take a shower,” said Evans.

Each individual Plan of Care that Evans evaluates for his clients may differ. He works with some clients in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings.

“For my clients, sometimes they’ll need help with getting dressed in the morning, making sure they’re brushing their teeth, hair is washed and everything like that,” said Evans. “Getting out of bed. Sometimes they may need a change if they are incontinent. They may need breakfast made. The house to be tidied up and things like that.”

Clients also have to feel welcomed and comforted.

“Now if it’s an afternoon client, I might need to come in, and I’ll make lunch and help them run errands or something like that,” said Evans. An evening patient they’ll need probably dinner and they’ll need me to tuck them in… make sure the house is straight… make sure their bed is nicely and neatly done and things like that.”

Properly dispensing medication also falls under Evans’ duties. Meeting client needs Patience is “crucial” in the field of caregiving.

“If you’re not patient, people are going to sense it,” said Evans, “They’re going to be very closed off, and they’re not going to be inviting and warm.”

Willingness to adapt 

As clients’ needs changes over time, Care Giver s must adapt. Changes can happen in a matter of hours, daily, weekly or monthly. “You have to hang in there. You have to be willing to adapt and accept change,” said Evans.

“That’s why I think that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this field because they’re not used to adapting on the fly as they would with a normal job where you just go in, and you clock in and you do the same thing every day.”

Evans says that it may take up to a few days, a few weeks, or even a month before a client is completely comfortable with someone taking care of them inside of their home. In most cases, Evans’ clients have never needed extra help or someone taking care of their every need.

“Sometimes they’ll verbalize in it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a look where it’s just like they’re smiling and I can tell at that moment they’re really happy with this. They’re really happy to have this help,” said Evans.

A rewarding career

Evans is Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, providing care for three years. He chose to work at Home Instead after working multiple types of jobs, but none seemed to be the perfect fit. It was while Evans was at a trade school that he was introduced to the field of medical assisting.

“The first class I took I was drawn to it immediately and I was like ‘I want to do this from now on,'” Evans said.

He achieved a certification in medical assisting and began searching for jobs in his field. However, Evans wanted a more personal type of relationship with patients that he felt he couldn’t get working at a doctor’s office. It was Evans’ mother that recommended him to Home Instead.

“I felt good. I felt like I’m really doing something that’s important for this guy because there was no one else with him and I was the only one there,” said Evans, about working with his first client. “…I felt like I was representing something good in his life that could be of service and help to him.”

Evans was named Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead and described the honor as both “overwhelming” and “unexpected”. Home Instead contacted Evans’ former clients and their families who gave glowing recommendations about Evans’ service and then interviewed Evans for the honor.

“To hear that I’m being esteemed in this way it blows me away…it was unbelievable to think that me just doing what I like doing people are going to recognize me in this way just for doing my job really,” said Evans.

Home Instead Senior Care provides in-home care to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

How you can open your home to a cultural exchange student

Interested in hosting international high school students? Want to share a piece of American culture with your student and learn from your student’s culture?

Since 1951, Youth for Understanding (YFU) has been hosting students in the U.S. and sending students abroad for cross cultural exchange. YFU hosts thousands of international students from around 70 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia every year. 

Christina Cox is a local elementary school teacher in Northern Virginia and spoke about her and her family’s experiences hosting international students and why you should too. 

 

1. What made you decide to begin hosting international students? 

I was approached at work by a co-worker that said her son’s high school was looking for volunteers to host. My sister was [an] exchange student with AFS and attended the University of Neufchatel in Switzerland, and in the past, my family had hosted a girl from Dijon, France, and another boy from the south of France.

Also, throughout my growing years, we often had visitors from Ecuador and Colombia. It was common for friends and relatives to send their kids to us for the summer to practice their English and learn more about American culture. Those experiences, combined with our own experiences of living in Canada, Eastern Europe, and Germany, gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

2. What year did you decide to open up your house?

We hosted our first exchange student, a young girl from France, in the summer of 2007. Our son, Alexander, was in middle school and our daughter, Mercedes, was entering high school. While she was a very sweet and easy-going guest, she wrote on her application that she spoke an intermediate level of English.

In fact, she spoke nearly no English. I had to interpret for her so she could communicate with the rest of the family. Once, when we were out to lunch, she and Mercedes had shared some tacos. When I asked if she wanted another one, she said, “sure, sure.” When I brought three more to the table, she scoffed and said, “no, no, no,” holding her stomach and indicating she was full and couldn’t eat anymore. We continue to laugh about that to this day.

3.  Favorite memories, moments?

The following year, we took a break from hosting, but the next year we were again approached by Terra Lingua [a different program], the exchange company, and asked to please consider taking a boy from Spain. He was Alexander’s age, was arriving in just over a week, and still had no host family. We accepted him, and that was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship between two boys and their families.

Inigo came to us from Bilboa, Spain. While he did speak a fair amount of English, he improved immensely through continued study in Spain as well as on his return visits to the U.S. Most recently, he stayed with us for his fourth time. He and his parents still communicate with us via Skype every few months. We keep up with each family’s happenings, as well as discuss what’s happening with each country’s politics, economy, and social issues. It makes for a candid and insightful exchange.

Alexander has also visited with Inigo’s family in Spain, even joining them on the family holiday to the Canary Islands. Some of our favorite memories were taking him camping for his very first time ever and introducing him to Dance Dance Revolution games.

Another funny memory is that we always thought we ate more than the Spanish family and that he was probably shocked. As it turns out, he now says he eats just as much and was always hungry, but didn’t want to be rude.

4. Why other families should consider becoming host families.

Other families should consider hosting a foreign exchange student because it allows you to share the best of American culture and the local area. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., this is simply a beautiful place, where people are kind, generous, and genuinely interested in creating positive relationships with people of other cultures. We have much to be proud of and much to share.

5. How rewarding is it to be able to host a student?

We loved being a host family. We know that there does not always exist an automatic chemistry between host and guests, but when there is such chemistry, it becomes an extension of your family. These are friendships that you can maintain for a lifetime.

6. How rewarding was it for your students? What do you think they gained?

I believe my children gained a great friend and extended family in Spain. I believe our guest gained an extended family here in the US and a much better understanding of the American way of life and culture. He can now speak from first hand experience about American culture and hospitality.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about being a host family with Youth for Understanding, please contact local Host Family Recruiter volunteer Amber Champ at amberbchamp@gmail.com and/or visit www.yfuusa.org for more information. 

News
Raised BPOL thresholds good for small business, bad for county coffers

Increasing the threshold of the infamous BPOL tax in Prince William County is just the start of the conversation.

The BPOL tax (business and professional licensing tax) is collected on the amount of gross receipts from licensed local businesses that generate at least $250,000 in gross sales. Tax rates vary between 5 cents and 33 cents per every $100. The tax collects $26.5 million in annual revenue for the county.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this year to increase the “BPOL threshold” from $250,000 to $300,000 in 2016. The plan to be voted on Tuesday calls for subsequent threshold increases to $350,000, $400,000, $450,000, and $500,000 in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, respectively.

By 2020 under the plan, the county would lose nearly $1 million in tax funding. To recoup the loss, the county plans to add a 3 cent per every $100 in funds received by federally-funded companies doing research or development in the computer and science fields.

The plan has bi-partisan among Democrats and Republican members of the Board of Supervisors.

“As part of the budget discussion earlier this year, my colleagues and I agreed that we needed to be doing more to help existing small businesses grow and thrive, and we needed to continue reducing barriers to new firms entering the market,” stated Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi in an email.

“There is no question that small firms create more net jobs than do large firms – and this resolution is designed specifically to help create new jobs while simultaneously fostering new investment and promoting innovation. Couple this with the fact that Prince William County has some of the lowest taxes in Northern Virginia, and you see us taking another important step toward making Prince William County a more desirable place to do business.”

The move could also be good for start-up businesses.

“…It is my hope and expectation that this change will strengthen and retain existing businesses and attract new ones, particularly small business start-ups who are very sensitive to the adverse impacts of the BPOL tax,” stated Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe, in an email obtained by Potomac Local.

“It is further my hope that this increase in small business activity will allow market forces to drive an increased overall valuation in commercial properties, which will make at least some small dent in the residential-to-commercial real estate tax ratio/tax base.”

The Prince William Chamber has long urged Prince William officials to raise the threshold. Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wants to phase out the BPOL tax completely for small businesses.

“We’re not looking at doing this for the Walmarts or Targets that aren’t really impacted by this… these aren’t the kinds of businesses we are targeting for economic development, anyway,” said Stewart.

The conversation on just how to phase out the tax for small businesses will take “several months.” The details, to include what defines a small business that would be totally exempt from BPOL, and what funding source will replace the lost BPOL revenues, still need to be worked out.

The Board is expected to vote on the matter during their 2 p.m. meeting.

Manassas is bucking the national trend and welcoming younger entrepreneurs to the city

A wave of business owners under the age of 35 has been bringing both new energy and great new destinations to the City of Manasass.

This activity comes at a time when the rate of entrepreneurship among young Americans has been falling across the U.S. While the Kauffman Foundation recorded the lowest rate of entrepreneurship in 17 years among people between the ages of 20 to 34, the City has been attracting this demographic.

Some of the forces driving this trend include a local culture of support for independent businesses, a collaborative business environment, and a strong sense of community.

There is no greater encouragement for an entrepreneur than the vote of confidence that support from the community can bring. Sean Arroyo, the CEO and co-founder of Heritage Brewing Company, used Kickstarter to see if locals would get behind his brewery concept.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform through which business owners can make sales pitches to raise money for their ideas. He met his goal and raised more than $20,000 from 166 backers three years ago. Support for Heritage continues to grow. A planned expansion will make it the second largest brewery in the state.

“It was funded mostly by people in and around Manassas and Northern Virginia,” said Arroyo. “It signaled to us that people want us here.”

Strong local support makes locating in Manassas an obvious choice for other business owners, too. Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone barbecue restaurant, says his family has been involved with businesses in Manassas for generations. Opening The Bone in the City was a “no-brainer” for him because he likes being in a community with so many independently owned businesses and strong support for buying local.

“The hospitality industry in Downtown Manassas is made up of many young entrepreneurs, which gives the city an energetic, unique flair you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hoover. “We love working with the other [local] restaurant owners to put on special events such as the weekly live music and numerous festivals throughout the year.  It is truly a small town where everyone works together toward the common goal of bringing great food and a great experience to visitors and locals alike.”

Miguel Pires, the owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, also cites the spirit of the community as a factor for opening his business in the City. He says he was raised in his family’s restaurants – Carmello’s and Monza – and worked as a general manager for both establishments for 10 years. When the time had come to open Zandra’s, Pires chose Manassas because he “wanted to continue to expand downtown’s culinary experience.” 

Chris Sellers, the owner of CJ Finz, credits the small-scale buildings in the historic downtown for giving restaurants a more intimate feel and an opportunity to focus on customer service.

“The restaurants here aren’t commercialized,” he said. “We get to build a connection to the community through each table that we serve.”

Business owners who are active with community organizations and civic groups strengthen that connection to the City even more. “People like me, Miguel, and others are excited about being the next leaders of the downtown,” said Sellers.

Entrepreneurs of any age can take advantage of area support services to get their business idea off the ground and join this community. The City’s Economic Development Department’s staff members are available to discuss the local economy, business ideas, great sites for locating new establishments, incentives, and the steps in starting a business.

Also, training and advice is available from George Mason University’s Mason Enterprise Centers, the Community Business Partnership, and the Flory Small Business Center (by referral).

Traffic
How VDOT will use a jet snow melter to fight Old Man Winter

Coming to a commuter lot near you this winter (if it snows): A jet-powered snow melter.

The Virginia Department of Transportation gave us an annual look at how they plan to do battle with Old Man Winter this year. It’s the agency’s job to keep more than 17,000 lane miles in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties clear of snow and ice. About half of those roads are major highways and heavily-traveled arterials while the other half is neighborhood streets.

VDOT last year spent $128.5 million on snow removal in Northern Virginia — more than double the $50.5 million budget. This year, VDOT has $70.7 million to spend on snow removal. A series of winter weather outlooks published this week, including one on Capital Weather Gang, indicate at least one major winter storm for our region this season.

The state has an online website that tracks what streets have been plowed after it snows. It’s a popular feature that VDOT continues to urge residents to use.

“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia in a statement. “We continue to encourage residents to use the website for real-time information on their neighborhoods during snow storms. Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our crews.”

Residents in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun may go to the site, enter their address, and see whether or not plowing in their neighborhood has begun or has been completed. They can also track the locations of snow plows.

The agency also listed some tools in the snow removal fight to be used this year:

A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where snow piles can block spaces.

Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.

Two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms.

Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

VDOT will also continue to pre-treat 850 miles of highway before the first snowflake falls.

350 lane miles on interstates—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.

500 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, and 50, are pre-treated with salt brine. Brine (77 percent water, 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, reduces the need for salt to melt ice, is kinder to the environment and can lower snow removal time and costs.

The agency will also deploy more employees to monitor snow plowing operations, and will continue a 2-year test a brine mixture that is used to pre-treat roads. Using brine to treat roads has been successful in western U.S. states and it could reduce the need for salt use here in Virginia, according to a VDOT statement.

How Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas matches the right CAREGiver to your loved one

Editors note: This paid promotional post was written by Potomac Local in collaboration with Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas, serving Prince William and Fauquier counites.

Matching the right CAREGiver to the right client is a very serious and rewarding job.

Gail Earhart is the Relationships Manager for Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, which provides local CAREgivers to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties.

“On a daily basis a lot of what I do is in the staffing department because we have clients on any given day…or up to any given week we could have up to 60 to 70 shifts to fill,” said Earhart.

However, filling the slots with CAREGivers isn’t the easiest task to complete. One of the biggest challenges Earhart and the staffing team faces when filling shifts is that each client has different needs, and each CAREGiver has a different preference.

“So you might have a client who has a dog or a cat and then you have a CAREGiver, who won’t go to somebody who has a dog or a cat,” said Earhart. “Or you have a client who has Alzheimer’s so we have to ensure that we have a CAREGiver, who’s seasoned working with somebody who has Alzheimer’s.”

 

Consultation 

Finding out the preferences and needs for both client and CAREGiver are important steps in delivering quality care. It starts at the beginning by consulting with new clients by Client Care Coordinators.

“Our Client Care Coordinators go out, and when they’re doing a consultation they find all this information out,” said Earhart. The Client Care Coordinators then return and tell staffing what exactly their client needs and the appropriate type of CAREgiver for their client.

Home Instead has 200 CAREGivers, which seems like a daunting task when matching the right CAREGiver to the right client. However, members of staffing know the CAREGivers so well they make it their job to know who is the right fit for their client.

Recently, Earhart completed a consultation of a client who was described by his daughter as “narrow minded” and “stubborn.”

In this case, the family requested a CAREGiver who was assertive and not someone young who the client can potentially take advantage of. So Home Instead matched the correct CAREGiver to the client who would make sure the client did what might seem the most basic of things, eat regular meals and shower on a regular basis.

 

Filling specific needs 

Sometimes, clients can be very particular about finding the right CAREGiver. And that’s OK. Many times families prefer non-smokers in the home or simply a companion for their loved one.

“Sometimes they say ‘I want a really talkative CAREGiver. Somebody’s who’s going to sit with my mom for three hours and just talk about life’ and we have that and that’s part of our service,” said Earhart.

Much of a CAREGiver’s role is “filling that gap” when a family member needs to go out when they can’t be with their loved one. Which is why it’s so important for a perfect match to exist between client and CAREGiver.

“The last thing I want to do is send somebody in there who’s a very quiet CAREGiver. We have those too so we want to make that perfect match,” said Earhart,” …but we tell every client if we don’t send the correct CAREGiver, if there isn’t a match, it doesn’t feel like a good fit, call us because we can send you somebody else.”

Successfully matching clients and CAREGivers can sometimes be an “ongoing process,” but when that perfect match happens and the client or client’s family sends positive feedback there’s no better feeling.

A care consultation can take up to an hour and a half .

“The first probably 45 minutes is just talking to the family, getting to know the family, finding out what their needs are. We have a complete form [and] we’re taking notes the entire time,” said Earhart.

It’s within these first 45 minutes do Client Care Coordinators know whether or not the client will be signed up. The last 30 minutes is dedicated to paperwork but discussion still happens between the family and client and Client Care Coordinator.

 

The best and most common questions families ask Client Care Coordinators include:

 

What type of CAREGiver will be sent to me?
Are they certified, bonded, or insured?
Do CAREGivers do drug testing?
Will the CAREGiver be permanent or temporary?

 

“Obviously our goal is to have permanency so if somebody is scheduled Monday, Wednesday, Friday they want the same person,” said Earhart.

However, it’s not a guarantee that clients will always have the same CAREGiver. It may take between two to three weeks to find the best two CAREGivers for clients in case one CAREGiver needs to call out in the future.

Some clients need around the clock care and see up to three CAREGivers each day.

“When we have a 24/7 client, we work on having 24/7 teams. We’ve had a client now for almost two years that has the same eight CAREGivers on that team” said Earhart. “They just rotate through the week and then the weekend.”

 

If its not working

It can be hard for families to initiate the conversation that a CAREGiver isn’t working out.

“We do get those phone calls and it might be ‘my dad’s just not hitting it off with this CAREGiver’,” said Earhart, “or maybe it’s something that the client unfortunately just doesn’t like about the CAREGiver and that’s okay too because not everybody makes a connection, not everybody makes a hit.”

To find out why a match isn’t successful, Earhart normally gets to the center of the problem. For example, if a family complains that the CAREGiver is on the phone too much steps will be taken to correct that and no further action needs to be taken. Or the family loves the CAREGiver but the CAREGiver can’t cook or complete a certain skill that properly fulfills the client’s needs.

“Jeannie Carroll is our CAREGiver Retention Coordinator and she has the best job here I think at Home Instead because she works directly with the CAREGivers,” said Earhart.

Jeannie spends 30 days with the CAREGivers, accompanies them on their first shift, and supervises them for 30 days to monitor their progress.

 

Making it a success 

What helps to make success more likely for both client and CAREGiver is that initial intake and assessment that has all of the client’s needs and preferences. When a CAREGiver is first assigned to a client, they must read everything about that client and if a CAREGiver’s preferences don’t match with the client’s, another CAREGiver can be assigned before one is sent to the client.

Journals are provided to the family and client to take note of the daily care received and if something raises questions, Home Instead can be contacted. Phone numbers are not exchanged between client or the client’s family and CAREGiver so that everything goes through Home Instead’s office.

“No client is ever left without somebody, so whatever it takes we’re going to be there,” said Earhart. 

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