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Aquatics center inside Colgan High School to open September 10

Students and residents will have a new place to swim starting September 10 when the ribbon is cut on the new indoor Prince William County Aquatics Center.

The facility includes a 500,000-gallon competition swimming pool with a moveable bulkhead for multiple meet configurations, a 50,000 gallon, zero-depth leisure pool, and a 150-foot long 20-foot high water slide.

The swim center located inside the newly built $111 million Colgan High School — one of the most costly high schools ever built in the state — will be open to the community seven days a week and be will be used by students. Getting students acquainted with the pool — children who otherwise not be acclimated to the water at home — is a core mission of the swim facility.

After the school year begins on August 2 and the pool opens for business two weeks later, second-grade students will come to the aquatics facility on a field trips to learn about water safety as part of the many educational programs planned at the pool.

“We’re not teaching them how to swim, but we are providing some instruction for safety in and around the water, and maybe someday that will save a life,” said Prince William Aquatics Center Manager Allen Dunn.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of the death for children under the age of 14. Black children are statistically more likely to drown than whites, officials added. 

The pool will be used as a field trip site for students who do not attend Colgan High School. Physical education students at Colgan will use the pool as part of their curriculum.

Nine Prince William County Public Schools will have daily swim team practices here, as well as two U.S. Swim teams. Teams from area homeowners associations will also use the facility. Dunn has already scheduled three conference meets and two regional swim meets at the facility.

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A raised spectator spanning the length of the competition pool allows for extensive views of the indoor center. With an occupancy of 465 people, the facility is slightly larger than the indoor pool at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center just outside Manassas, said Dunn.

The depth of the competition pool at the aquatics center ranges from four feet in the shallows to 12 and a half feet on the deep end. When not in use by swim teams, residents will be able to use the pool for activities ranging from swimming lessons, water aerobics, to scuba diving training.

Not only is the size of the facility impressive, but so is the “state-of-the-art” equipment used in the pump room to keep the pool clean. Ultra-violet light is used to disinfect the water during the filtration process, before its sent back to the pool.

“You’ll notice the air in here is pretty clear, low humidity, and you don’t have that strong chlorine smell you usually associate with other indoor swimming facilities, because of UV light and lower amount of chlorine we use…” said Dunn.

The doors to the aquatic center will open at 9:30 a.m. on September 10, and recreational swimming in both pools and use of the waterslide will be free. School officials hope residents will come and get aquatinted the new facility and then return in the following days as paying customers.

The pool will be open for public use from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, and 6 to 10 a.m., and 4 to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

Weekday evening hours will start at 6 p.m. beginning in November and last until the end of the high school swimming season.

Daily admission to the aquatics center will cost $5 for ages 3 to 15, $7 for ages 16 to 59, $5 for those 60 and older, and $15 for a family pass.

A 20 visit pass costs $75 for ages 3 to 15, $112.50 for those aged 16 to 15, and $75 for those over 60.

A one-month membership to the facility will cost $45 for those aged 3 to 15, $67.50 for those aged 16 to 59, $45 for those over 60, and $115 for a family.

A 12-month membership to the facility costs $273 for ages 3 to 15, $409.50 for those between the ages of 16 and 59, $273 for those over 60, and $819 for a family.

A separate entrance for the aquatics center at the rear of the school building will allow the public to come and go without entering the main section of Colgan High School. Inside the facility, doors will be locked preventing public access to the school. This will make it easier for the public to use the facility while keeping the students inside the school buying more secure, said Dunn.

The Prince William Aquatics Facility joins the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, and the Chinn and Sharon Baucom Dale City Rec Center both in Dale City as public swimming facilities in the county. The facility is also the first and only swimming pool at a public school in Prince William County.

The Prince William Aqutics Facility is located at 13719 Dumfries Road near Woodbridge.


Prince William County Police detectives chosen to work for a higher cause

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Sponsored by the Prince William County Police Department, this is the first of six stories in our series that will examine the unique assignments within the Prince William County Police Department.

Special Victims Bureaus aren’t just creations of Primetime TV.

In the Prince William County Police Department, Detective Matthew Newbauer works with a group of detectives dedicated to the public they serve. These are the detectives of the Special Victims Unit, trained to solve cases ranging from sexual crimes against women and children to physical abuse of the elderly.

Newbauer, who has been in law enforcement for nine years, said that while his job is not TV style police work, it isn’t a boring nine-to-five, either.

There is a lot going on in the Special Victims Unit. In addition to the cases reported by patrol officers, reports may come in from Child Protective Services or a mandatory reporter, such as a caregiver or medical professional.

Newbauer has already assisted in 40 cases of his own this year. The detectives in Newbauer’s fast-paced unit work together in every aspect of these sensitive cases, including the collection of evidence, writing search warrants and interviewing witnesses.

“Each detective handles their own assigned cases and also assists others in the same manner,” Newbauer said. “It’s truly a group effort to ensure that each case is properly and thoroughly investigated.”

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Forensic interviews are different

The Bureau has 20 detectives and four supervisors working these challenging cases, and they are cross-trained to work in both the Special Victims Unit and Physical Abuse Unit of the Bureau. Criminal justice training of all types is utilized including cyber crime and domestic violence investigation to forensic child interviewing. Newbauer aids his co-workers, using his skill as a child forensic interviewer.

Forensic interviews are different from other types of interviews, such as those for property crime cases. The interviewer must connect with the victim, and ask questions like, “Can you help me understand what you remember about your experience?” With children, who are interviewed in a special room with more comfortable chairs and a flip chart with markers to draw with, the approach must be even more subtle. Being questioned by the police “is an event they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Newbauer said. “There’s a weight to that that goes beyond a nine-to-five job.”

These detectives don’t do this work for any fame or the thrill of carrying a badge and a gun. These detectives have chosen to work for a higher cause.

According to Newbauer, “There is a sacred responsibility to anyone who enters this profession to maintain the highest standard of ethics while working harder than they ever thought they could to serve their community. This is not a profession for those who feel entitled to recognition. This is a profession for those few people who desire to commit their lives for the highest cause of service and to protect people from those who prey upon the innocent.”

Part of a professional family

In return, the Detective and his colleagues are rewarded by being part of a professional family fighting together to help victims during what might be the most difficult moments in their lives.

When asked to give an example, Newbauer shared pieces of his most memorable case. While he could not reveal specifics, he spoke of one witness’s bravery.

The witness looked past the “personal ramifications” to make sure the child victim was identified and treated. “I wasn’t the hero of this case; that witness was. We should all aspire to be that person and do the right thing even when it’s scary. That’s true courage.”

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The capacity for compassion and empathy

The Detective had a few words of advice for those interested in the profession: “I would tell them that first of all, you have to have the capacity for compassion and empathy for those that have endured abuse. You have to shake off any victim-blaming mentality that our culture supports and be prepared to truly listen to the story of a victim.”

Detectives must get over the shock of what comes along with the investigations.

He also shared the need for a bit of Zen.

“Because of the nature of these investigations,” he said, “it is vital that you come to work prepared to uncover “Because of the nature of these investigations,” he said, “it is vital that you come to work prepared to uncover truth, and you leave work prepared to rediscover yourself. Work-life balance is essential; it will help you be the best investigator at work and the best parent/spouse/partner at home.”

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is when I complete an investigation and I know that the hard work and countless hours I’ve put into the case has helped a defenseless person escape their abuser and find a little bit of justice,” Newbauer said. “If that’s something that motivates you, then this is your calling.”

The Prince William County Police Department continually seeks qualified applicants for Police Officer I and Certified Officers. Apply today at joinpwcpd.org

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
Wider Route 17 in Stafford County opens 3 months early

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From VDOT: 

An expanded Route 17 in Stafford County is now open with three through travel lanes in each direction between Interstate 95 and Stafford Lakes Parkway.

Construction is near completion on a three-year, $47.2 million widening of Route 17. The highway was expanded from four lanes to six lanes over nearly 2 miles between McLane Drive and Stafford Lakes Parkway.

Construction began in June 2013. New travel lanes are opening to traffic approximately 3 months ahead of the required completion date of December 1, 2016.

Final construction tasks will be underway for several weeks. The 35 mph reduced speed limit signs will be removed upon final completion.

“We are grateful for the community’s support and patience while we carried out this project,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., Assistant District Administrator for Construction in VDOT’s Fredericksburg District. “Thank you to everyone who drove carefully through the work zone each day. Your attention and alertness helped us deliver this project safely.”

Other features added by the Route 17 widening project:

  • A continuous right turn lane to assist drivers slowing to turn into businesses, or accelerating to rejoin the through travel lanes
  • Double left turn lanes at high-demand intersections to move additional vehicles through intersections on each cycle, reducing driver delay
  • New traffic signal equipment at each intersection, replacing signal equipment dating to the late 1990s-early 2000s
  • LED traffic signals with a battery back-up power source, allowing the signal to stay operational for several hours even with power loss
  • Signal equipment that connects to a master controller, which picks up on malfunctions faster, alerting technicians to make adjustments
  • Signals with pre-emption equipment for public safety vehicles to trigger during emergencies
  • Sidewalk along Route 17 northbound and southbound
  • Landscaping and medians with a stamped concrete pattern

Route 17 carries approximately 39,000 vehicles a day, which is projected to grow to a daily travel volume of 96,000 vehicles a day by 2035.

The project contractor was Henderson Construction Company, Inc., of Stafford, Va.

News
How Quantico is watching Prince William police body-worn camera project

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With just five officers in his department, Quantico Police Chief John Clair will watch how the Prince William County Police Department conducts its first tests with body-worn cameras.

A total of 30 Prince William police officers in the Prince William this week will be issued body-worn cameras as part of a pilot program to test the technology in the field. The cameras are quickly becoming the standard in local law enforcement across the U.S. as citizens routinely seek more transparency from local police departments.

The department will present its findings to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors after tt the end of its 60-day test period. That Board will then decide if it will fund the purchase and implementation of body-worn cameras throughout the county police department.

“The Police Department remains committed to protecting our citizens’ constitutional and legal rights, while impartially enforcing the law. The use of the Body-Worn Camera is intended to enhance public trust by documenting law enforcement contacts with the public while promoting accountability, transparency, and professionalism. This Department is continuously seeking ways to improve how we serve the community while strengthening the mutual trust and respect.” states the department in a press release.

Chief Clair worked at the Prince William County and Dumfries police departments before being named police chief in the Town of Quantico. He, too, has been authorized to spend funds — up to $8,000 — to purchase and implement a new body-worn camera system for his department.

The testing conducted by Prince William County will help him determine which camera system is right for his small department. Since Prince William officers have more interactions with the public than officers in Quantico — a town with just over 500 residents — being able to see how the cameras perform during a foot pursuit, or if an officer falls into a lake will be helpful, he said.

The body-worn cameras are quickly becoming what Clair said is the “industry standard” in helping to improve the relationships between police officers and the residents they protect and serve. In the coming years, any department not using such cameras will be viewed by the public as out of touch, he said.

For Clair, choosing which cameras to use and then placing them on his officers is the easy part. It is what comes afterward — the storage of the video collected from the cameras, and what to do with it, and for how long to keep the data on file — is his biggest challenge.

“We’re creating records of peoples’ lives, and you’re going to have a situation in the country in this next decade where every police officer is going to have recorded every interaction it has with the public,” said Clair. “If you call me, and I come to your house, and you’re having the worst day of your life, and I have a video of you, and your house, and of our encounter, do you want me to be allowed to keep that video on file for a year? Do you want me reviewing that video? Do you want someone to be able [request the video through a Freedom of Information Act application]?

If the Prince William County Police Department decides to equip its officers with body-worn cameras on a permanent basis, Clair says he hopes to “ride” the county’s contract with the body-worn camera manufacturer and obtain equipment for his department at a reduced rate.

In addition to body-worn cameras, Clair also has funds to purchase the needed body armour he says is necessary to use the gear. The funds also include money for new video cameras at the town’s police station.

News
Updated: Sprint 911 issues resolved

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From Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton:

Some wireless customers in the area might experience a busy signal if they use 911 service. We are working aggressively to resolve and service restoration is underway. I’ll let you know as soon as I have an update and the issue is fully resolved.

Original post

If you’re a Spring Wireless customer, you might have trouble calling 911. 

The text below was contained in an email send to Prince William County first responders: 

Prince William County VA is experiencing reports of degraded cellular service (by Sprint) is adversely impacting 9-1-1 emergency calls in the county. It is recommended that landline usage or another cellular service provider be used for 9-1-1 emergency call service.

Jurisdictions Impacted:

·         Prince William County

·         Arlington County

·         Fairfax County

·         Montgomery County

·         Prince Georges County

Sprint cellular service is affected throughout the area.  If you receive a busy signal when you call 9-1-1, you should attempt to text to 9-1-1, use a landline phone or use a cellphone covered by another provider.

Potomac Local requested a comment from Sprint but has yet to hear back. We’ll update this post if we hear from the company.

News
Police make separate drug busts in Prince William County

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From Prince William police: 

Narcotics Investigation – On June 30, detectives from the Street Crimes Unit concluded an investigation into the distribution of cocaine in the Woodbridge area (22193). Following the investigation, the accused was located and actively resisted arrest but was quickly detained without further incident. A search warrant was subsequently executed at the residence of the accused. Cocaine, money, and drug paraphernalia were recovered. The arrest was previously held for investigative purposes.

Arrested on June 30:

Venturus Horatio FULLER, 35, of 13798 Gresham Ct in Woodbridge

Charged with distribution of a schedule I or II narcotic, possession with intent to distribute a schedule I or II narcotic, and resisting arrest

Court Date: August 26, 2016 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

**MORE**

 

Narcotics Investigation – On February 24, the accused was arrested by detectives from the Prince William County-Manassas City-Manassas Park Narcotics Task Force as part of Operation “Save a Life” which was an aggressive campaign that sought to combat heroin use and distribution in our area. This arrest was previously held for investigative purposes.

Arrested on February 24:

Kaleigh Elizabeth REAGAN, 22, of 14334 Northbrook Ln in Gainesville

Charged with 2 counts of prescription fraud

Court Date: September 2, 2016 | Status: Released on a $7,500 unsecured bond

News
Fire rips through Lake Ridge home

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From Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department

Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters were called to an apartment fire at 1831 Sugar Hill Drive Lane in Lake Ridge.  OWL crews arrived on scene within minutes with fire showing from the front of the building. 

The fire was under control within 15 minutes.  Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, City of Manassas, Lake Jackson, Stonewall Jackson, and Prince William Police Department responded to the incident.

There were no injuries. Four apartment units were affected. The property manager made arrangements for the four displaced families.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s office.

During the massive storms, OWL was also on scene for a lightning strike in Woodbridge and a boat call to assist canoers in distress on the Potomac River. With bad weather comes more calls to 911, and OWL VFD is ready.