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Your guide to Christmas festivities in Manassas


The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Manassas, as the town gears up for its annual festivities to be held this weekend, starting Friday, December 2nd. From the lighting of the community tree, to the parade, to Santa and Mrs. Claus, to merchant open houses, you won’t want to miss a moment.

“Merry Old Town” Christmas tree lighting

Enjoy some good, old-fashioned celebrating on the Manassas Museum Lawn with a Christmas tree lighting December 2. Hear holiday music from Jason Paul Curtis on the lawn from 5:15 to 6 p.m. Santa will arrive at the VRE station just after 6 p.m. He and Mrs. Claus will light the tree. Also, enjoy entertainment from local high school students in Osbourn Park Madrigals and Osbourn High School’s Center Stage. This event is sponsored by InsideNova Prince William.

71st Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade

Bring the whole family out for the second day of celebration in historic downtown Manassas. The parade will start on December 3 at 10 a.m., with marching bands, floats and Santa’s sleigh, which will be pulled by a Miller Toyota vehicle this year. General Manager of parade sponsor Miller Toyota, Ken Shepard, is excited to be a part of the event. He says, “Christmas brings out the little kid in all of us. Just to see the civic groups, the bands…it’s a great way to kick off what should be a family friendly month.”

This year’s parade is also sponsored by Stanley Martin, a local builder who enjoys supporting the community they helped build. Truett Young, VP of Land at Stanley Martin has lived in Manassas for over 18 years and has fond memories of bringing his own children to the Manassas Christmas Parade. “Old Town Manassas is a wonderful experience,” said Young. “Definitely bring your kids. It’s a great family event.”

This year, Santa will collect toys for needy children in the Manassas area prior to the parade. Bring a new, unopened toy to donate, and brighten up a child’s Christmas.

Free carriage rides downtown

You can tour historic downtown in a horse-drawn carriage from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 4. Carriage rides are free and will leave from the Manassas Train Depot. Get in the holiday spirit as you take in the sounds and sights of the season. Historic downtown will be fully decorated for Christmas. Carriage rides are sponsored by Historic Manassas, Inc., a nonprofit playing a leadership role in the community and helping to revitalize historic downtown Manassas.

Merchants’ Open House

Sunday December 4 at noon, many of the merchants downtown will open their doors with refreshments and specials. Joanne Wunderly, owner of The Things I Love, will open her doors a bit earlier at 11 a.m. with lots of refreshments and live musical entertainment. “I will have 21 themed Christmas trees, each depicting Christmas across the globe, such as New York, Russia, New Orleans, Norway, etc.,Wunderly says.

It is a really nice weekend, with so much going on. People of all ages can find something to enjoy, and it definitely is not like your cookie cutter, mall-type Christmas events at all. It is my favorite weekend of the year in Old Town, and sometimes I find it very emotional.”

Totally Vintage Design nets $6,000 from Manassas City EDA


MANASSAS, Va. — Melissa Harris has doubled her sales since moving to the corner of Center and Main streets just six weeks ago.

Harris is the co-owner of Totally Vintage Design, which moved from an old location one block over on Battle Street into what was previously a sandwich shop inside the old Rohr’s Museum in Downtown Manassas.

The gift boutique has become known for its selection of unique gifts, and for a selection of chalk paints used to restore old furniture and other home fixtures.

The Manassas City Economic Development Authority this month granted Totally Vintage $6,000. It’s cash the small shop doesn’t have to pay back as long as it remains in business for the next two years. Harris said she would use the cash to build a dressing room inside the store, add metallic store fixtures, and erect a barn door in place of an older, large door that leads to Main Street.

Harris scored a 60 out of 100 possible points on a rubric the city’s EDA uses to evaluate a business’ contributions to the city. Totally Vintage Design’s scoresheets notes the business will invest $28,000 in capital improvements to its retail space, collect $291,000 in gross receipts, and generate $3,155 in business taxes for the city.

Harris’ shop employs about five part-time employees. She plans on increasing the number of hours her employees work as sales grow, but the grant money will not be used toward that effort.

She moved her shop from Jefferson Street in Haymarket to Downtown Manassas two years ago, where she found a more engaged local business community, and multiple events designed to draw shoppers to the neighborhood, she said.

She runs the store with her mother — something she said she always wanted to do. Before opening her shop, she taught spin classes at the Freedom Fitness and Aquatics Center.

Sheldon Levi retires as Occoquan Police Chief


OCCOQUAN, Va. — Sheldon Levi, a familiar face in Occoquan, retired Tuesday night.

Levi had worked as the town’s Police Chief, Town Sargeant, and Acting Town Manager. He entered retirement during a ceremony at Occoquan Town Hall.

“I am one of the rare people who got to grow up and do the job he dreamt about as little boy,” Sheldon said at his send off.

Levi is the only police officer in the town. He is credited with expanding the department’s auxiliary force to save taxpayer money in the town of about 1,000 residents.

From Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Jovanovich:

“Levi began his law enforcement career in the City of Falls Church, VA as a Deputy Sheriff with the Falls Church Sheriff’s Office. Since that time, he has held law enforcement positions with the Towns of Haymarket and Quantico, before coming to Occoquan. In addition, Levi served as an Auxiliary Police Sergeant with the City of New York Police Department, served as a certified EMT, and provided and taught fire service photography.”

A replacement for Levi has not been named.

Maurer to push to save Lake Arrowhead dams

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — There’s enough support to save the dams.

Stafford County Rockhill District Supervisor Wendy Maurer said 86 percent of the people responded favorably to a survey of Lake Arrowhead residents asking if they would pay more in property taxes to save two dams that form man-made.

The ponds, Big Lake Arrowhead at 28 acres, and Little Lake Arrowhead at 6.5 acres are located in a subdivision of the same name in northwestern Stafford County. The lakes are held back by dams 304 feet, and 280 feet tall, respectively.

The large dam is failing, and state officials mandated it is repaired or demolished. If demolished, the smaller dam would also be removed as the large lake flows into the smaller body of water.

Neighborhood streets Lakeview and Boundary drives each cross the big and small dams, respectively. If the dams were demolished, a portion of those neighborhood streets would be lost cutting the neighborhood in two separate sections.

Stafford County officials made an offer to Lake Arrowhead property owners allowing the neighborhood, which does not have an HOA, to borrow $500,000 to cover some of the repair costs that could be as much as $700,000.

That loan would be paid back over 10 years, and a service district would be established for Lake Arrowhead as the taxing authority. Taxes would vary based on the property value of each home.

Look for the specifics of the loan to be worked out during the county’s upcoming budget season, to be discussed with members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, said Mauer.

At a public meeting in October, Stafford County Administrator Keith Dayton said the dams could be repaired in full by the end of 2017 if taxpayers decided to accept the county loan.

Carrie Catherine Copeland Joshlyn


Carrie Catherine Copeland Joshlyn, 40, of Lynchburg, VA died Saturday, November 19, 2016.
Born December 17, 1975 in Alexandria, VA, she was the daughter of Stephen Copeland and Nancy Griffin Copeland.
Carrie was preceded in death by her grandparents, Spud and Maxine Copeland, and Betty and Griff Griffin, all of Hampton, VA.

In addition to her parents, Carrie is survived by her loving sons, Ethan A. Joshlyn of Haymarket, VA and Samuel Joshlyn-Sapyta of Lynchburg, VA; her brother, David Copeland, and his wife, Amy, of Washington, DC; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins, who cared for her dearly.

Carrie loved and adored her children. She was a member of First Church of the Nazarene. A graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, VA, she was a catcher on the softball team and swam competitively. She skated competitively as a child and as an adult she skated Roller Derby as “Typhoid Carrie”. As a volunteer firefighter in Prince William County, she enjoyed helping others. A lady of many talents, she was also a barista, ran a marathon, and held a trainee pilot’s license. She lived life to its fullest.

There will be two celebrations of Carrie’s life. The first will be Saturday, December 3 at 12 p.m. (noon) at Tharp Funeral Home in Lynchburg, VA with Pastor Stephen Willis. The second will be December 17th at 12 p.m. (noon) at Manassas Presbyterian Church, 8201 Ashton Ave, Manassas, VA 20109 with a light lunch prepared by the church served at 1:00 p.m.

Balloons are welcome at both celebrations.
An Educational Fund has been established for her sons. You may contribute via
Tharp Funeral Home and Crematory, Lynchburg, VA is assisting the family. To send condolences please visit

Updated: Suspect, victim named in Food Lion shooting

DALE CITY, Va. — One man was shot outside a Food Lion at the intersection of Dale Boulevard and Hoadly Road.

More from police

Officers are currently on scene investigating a shooting which occurred at the Food Lion shopping center located in the 6300 block of Hoadly Rd near Dale Blvd. The victim, an adult woman man, was reportedly shot and transported to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries. Residents can expect a heavy police presence in the area as the investigation continues. The scene is contained and secured by police. More information will be released when available.


Reader photo: Ryan St. Louis


From police: 

Homicide Investigation – On November 29 at 7:29PM, officers responded to the Food Lion located at 6306 Hoadly Rd in Manassas (20112) to investigate a shooting. When officers arrived, they located an adult male suffering from gunshot wounds to the body. The victim was transported to an area hospital where he died as a result of his injuries a short time later. The victim will be transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. The identity of the victim will be released once confirmed and their next-of-kin have been notified. The investigation continues. More information will be released when available.

This is Prince William County’s 22nd homicide this year. This latest incident comes less than a week after a man was stabbed to death outside a shopping center near Manassas.

Updated 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, November 30

Police have named the suspect in the shooting who remains on the loose, and the victim who died last night at an area hospital.

Wanted: [Photo January 2015]

                Roberta Edlina BRANDON, 23, of the 2800 block of Bixley Hill Ct in Woodbridge

                Described as a black female, 5’10”, 154lbs, black hair, and brown eyes

Wanted for murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony


The victim was identified as Cordrey Douglas JACKSON, 24, of Dumfries

Old Bridge Road crash snarls traffic in Lake Ridge, on Route 123


At least one crash on Old Bridge Road near the intersection of Tanyard Hill Road, prior to Clipper Drive, snarled traffic in eastern Prince William County.

Police and fire and rescue crews were working the crash scene about 6:30 p.m. 

Traffic on westbound Old Bridge Road was backed up for about two miles, from the crash scene to Route 123. Traffic headed south on Route 123 toward Interstate 95 was backed up 10 miles, from Old Bridge Road, across the Route 123 bridge into Fairfax County. 

We’re working to get info from Prince William police about the crash. 

How a love for animals and a vet degree spawned a career as a Prince William County Police officer


This is the fourth of six stories in our series that will examine the unique assignments within the Prince William County Police Department.

When Assistant Chief Dawn Harman was growing up in Prince William County, she imagined a very different career path. Harman majored in veterinary science in college and was once with the Animal Control Unit of the Prince William County Police Department. Now Harman’s days are filled with duties that help keep the Prince William County Police Department a well-oiled machine.

All in a Day

Harman’s day may start with a series of meetings or just a clearing of ongoing matters on the desk in her office. She may also be called to Roll Call to speak on issues affecting the department.

Currently, this means fielding concerns about the heightened dangers of police work.

“People never call us when they are having their best day,” explained Harman. “The only difference between a cop and someone else is they [the perpetrators] have made a bad decision or had something bad happen to them.”

Harman wants those that are considering law enforcement as a career to know that public perception is hyped by media.

“People have always been fascinated with law enforcement,” she said, noting that officers are scrutinized every day by people with cell phone cameras, written about on blogs, and featured on social media. It is important to keep a sense of balance, remembering that the people they serve are no different than they are.

Up in the Ranks

From hiring to patrol to promotion, there is a sense of dedication, thoroughness, and fraternity, Harman said. While some also call the career a passion or a calling, Harman noted, “I think this is like any other job. You need skills.” Academy for new recruits is held in January and July. Harman said that through that process you can see who has skills and who will make the cut.

Also needed is the ability to take on opportunity. There are always job openings in different units, leading to some great opportunities. Harman knows this firsthand. Starting as an animal control officer, she moved up through different positions and ranks while juggling family and career, working in crime prevention and as Western District Commander while with the department.

Meeting the challenges of the job can definitely mean promotion. Others pay attention to rank, and Harman can remember considering it a big deal. Promotions are completely elective and based on consideration of skills as well.

“We try to balance everything the best we can,” Harman said about the promotion process, noting that they work with several different evaluation styles adjusting for issues, such as test anxiety.

When asked about rank, Harman called sergeant the toughest. The sergeant is no longer just ‘one of the troops,’ and a friendly detachment becomes necessary.

“It’s not the same relationship. You have to hold people accountable now,” she said. “You have to be straight forward. Some people aren’t comfortable with it.”

Sacrifice, Communication

There are sacrifices, too. Officers work set shifts, but family events and holidays may be missed because there’s a need in the department. Many people forgo certain positions or promotions because of the demands of both family and career. Harman shared that, while she has a great support system, she chose not to work in Criminal Investigations so she was not on call in the evenings.

“Challenges had to coincide with where I was with my family at the time,” she said.

Communication was big on Harman’s list of skills for which the department seeks. Good listening skills and the ability to ask constructive questions are important. The goal is to serve the community well. A successful encounter with the public includes the feeling that everyone is treated as a human being.

“You absolutely have to be an effective communicator, or you’re part of the problem,” she said.
Harman pointed out that some people want to be in Law Enforcement for power. “We
don’t want that.”

In the Community

Harman said that the people of Prince William County are very supportive of their police department, some even bringing food to officers earlier in the year after a fatal shooting of an officer.

“It’s a little morale boost,” she said.

This positive relationship may be directly related to the professional attitude that is widespread through the Prince William County Police Department, including by Harman, who has found the career to be very rewarding.

“I’d encourage people to go into the profession.”

For more information on career opportunities with the Prince William County Police Department, visit

Read more from our series

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

Prince William on patrol: ‘This Job is About Integrity’

Prince William County Police Digital Forensics team puts heart, soul, and mind into solving cases


Founded in Stafford, Ricks Roasters ready for growth


STAFFORD, Va. — The founders of Ricks Roasters will take the lessons learned in Stafford and use them as the company aims to expand into the Northeast.

“Our strategic vision from the beginning has been the replication of the model we’ve built in Stafford. We are a local coffee roaster providing an outstanding product while being integrated into the community. When opportunities to repeat that model present themselves, we will pursue them aggressively. We are currently pursuing such opportunities in Martinsburg, W. Va., New York City, and Jonestown, Pa,” stated Sean Ricks, a company co-founder, in email.

Their coffee can now be found at various locations in Fredericksburg, Stafford, and at the Virginia Railway Express station in Quantico. Ricks boasts 80 company partners that work with the roster including the Great Harvest Bread Company in Lorton and Agora coffee shop in Downtown Fredericksburg.

While the company roasts its special blend of coffees for smaller shops and restaurants, Ricks says their future lies in roasting large quantities of coffee beans.

“Though we have a coffee shop at the VRE station, our primary path to market is wholesale. We’ve been very successful at customizing coffees for businesses, often paired with their menus. We not only have custom blends for coffee shops and restaurants, but also mortgage brokers, realtors, and gyms. We see all of our customers as partners and do everything we can to help them grow,” stated Ricks.

The business started after a husband and wife couple began searching for something they could do togehter.

“In May 2013, Keely and I were searching for a business we would be passionate about and could work on together. We loved coffee and decided we’d pursue a coffee I used to drink in Indonesia while serving in the Navy. The day after we settled on coffee, my motorcycle broke down on the way to my job at the Pentagon. After making the necessary repairs, we went to Tim’s Rivershore for lunch where Ricks Roasters was sketched out on a napkin. What began as a little “side” business for us has taken off into an exciting small business employing several veterans and veteran dependents.

Growing the business has presented challenges along the way as the coffee couple kept their full-time jobs.

“I am still on active duty in the Navy, and Keely is a social worker by trade. From the beginning, we knew our full-time jobs would preclude our ability to run this business all on our own. We’ve had to hire more people than we would have had to had we been able to work full time.

Bringing on staff and the nature of getting roasted product in the bag have made our labor costs track linearly with our sales numbers. As always, limited cash flow has throttled our growth and made decoupling the sales and labor numbers challenging.”

As the company grew, Ricks says he’s learned a thing or two about shipping and inventory costs. Raw coffee is heavy when shipped, so Ricks Roasters had to find a way to cut down on the weight it shipped to keep costs under control.

“Our raw product is very heavy so early-on we did our best to maximize the amount of product we would bring in per shipment. While this did help keep the cost per pound in freight down, it had a major impact on cash flow. Ultimately, we found the sweet spot in shipment size that saved the most amount of money per pound while not presenting very large inventory purchase bills.”

The Facts
Start Date: May 2013
Owners Names: Sean & Keely Ricks
Roastery: 1304 Interstate Business Park, Fredericksburg, VA 22405 (Stafford County)
Retail Location: 550 Railroad Ave, Quantico, VA 22134
Phone number: 540-318-6850

*This post is written by Rod Loges and Jenn Mathis, of One Degree Captial in Occoquan, in collaboration with Potomac Local.

Martin to present Wednesday at 1 Million Cups

MANASSAS, Va. — Realtor Stacy Martin will present at 1 Million Cups Prince William on Wednesday. 

From Martin: 

I have been a real estate agent for the past 13 years, trainer, recruiter, and an owner/investor in several Keller Williams Realty Market Centers. 

As a Realtor in the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, I have been consistently recognized as a Multi-Million Dollar Producer.  She has also earned the Accredited Buyer Representative designation, Military Relocation Professional certification, Certified Negotiation Expert designation, and Certified Military Specialist certification.

Prior to entering the real estate business, Stacy focused her attention on the IT and Telecom consulting industries, in which she worked for over 9 years.  

I am also a motivated member of the community.  She participates in and supports many philanthropic events, and also has personally driven the raising of over $120,000 for lupus research in seven years through her annual “Raising the Stakes to Fight Lupus” casino night fundraiser.    

Meeting weekly on Wednesdays from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 1 Million Cups provides free networking and coffee to the public while providing  a platform to a local entrepreneur to talk about their business.

Each session is free to attend.