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Hepatitis A case linked to Gainesville Tropical Smoothie Cafe

tropicalsmoothie

Health officials in Prince William County want to talk to anyone who purchased food or drink at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Gainesville.

A male store employee in his early 20s this week was diagnosed with hepatitis A, a virus that attacks the liver and can be fatal in rare cases. Anyone who purchased anything at the restaurant between 28 and August 16 is see their doctor.

From the Prince William Health District:

Susceptible individuals who ate or drank anything from the Tropical Smoothie Café in Gainesville on August 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 or 18 may still benefit from vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A if received within two weeks of the date of exposure. Susceptible individuals who ate or drank anything at the restaurant on those dates should contact their health care providers, or may contact the Prince William Health District information line at 703-792-6345. Vaccine is available at various urgent care clinics and pharmacies in the community and at the Prince William Health District.

The Tropical Smoothie store that employs the infected worker, at 8069 Stonewall Shops Square, remained open on Friday afternoon. The store employee notified the owners of the store Dennis and Nicole Drake on Wednesday that his was showing signs of an illness.

The owners said the employee was told to stay home.

A lab test revealed he had contracted Hepatitis A, which can be transmitted by fecal matter or orally, according to health officials. The employee regularly handed food, and has worked at the restaurant since June, said Drake.

Customers who may not be showing symptoms now could develop them later. Those infected with hepatitis A may show symptoms between 15 and 50 days after contracting the virus, according to health officials.

The Gainesville infection comes as Virginia Department of Health officials last week traced the cause of 28 other Hepatitis A infections at Tropical Smoothie Cafes across Virginia to strawberries imported from Egypt.

“I never order anything with strawberries in it,” said Tyler Long, of Bristow, who purchased two smoothies on Friday from Tropical Smoothie in Gainesville.

Long works at a neighboring barbecue restaurant and goes to Tropical Smoothie each time he works, about four to five times a week.

The Drakes, owners of the Gainesville Tropical Smoothie, attended a press conference on Friday at the Prince Willaim Health District Office in Manassas. The husband and wife owner team said their store regularly passes state health inspections, that the company uses a private firm to perform additional health inspections, and that proper food handling training is administered to all employees.

“We’ve been impacted by this… it hurts us,” said Dennis Drake. “And it hurts more so than the business aspect… this is our food, these are our employees, and we’re all members of this community.”

The Drakes employee 17 people at their Gainesville location. The couple said they were at their Gainesville store until 2 a.m. Friday performing a “deep clean” of the restaurant.

News
Discovery Boulevard extension to carry customers to 2 Silos Brewery

A two-lane extension of Discovery Boulevard just outside Manassas in Prince William County will soon take fans of craft beer to the soon-to-open 2 Silos Brewery. 

The joint project between the county and Silva Holdings Group, the firm that is expected to open 2 Silos Brewery inside the Thomason Barn, that was, until this year, a county-owned property.

The two-lane extension of Discovery Boulevard should open about March 2017. The road will also serve other businesses that could open in the nearby Innovation Park.

News
Hobby Lobby, Uptown Alley to open in Prince William County

uptownalley

Two new large stores are expected to draw customers from Prince William County. 

Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby will open in an old Shoppers Food Warehouse location on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge. 

Here’s more in press release from the company: 

Hobby Lobby  Stores, Inc., a  privately held  national retail  chain of craft and home decor stores, opens in Woodbridge, Virginia,  with a ribbon  cutting ceremony and official grand opening celebration on Monday, August 29, at 9 a.m. The Woodbridge store is Hobby Lobby’s ninth location in Virginia.  

Eric Sisk is the store manager of the 64,000 square-­?foot  retail facility at Prince William Parkway and Smoketown Road in Smoketown  Station. The store’s grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is open to the public.

Local dignitaries, ambassadors from the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders will attend  the  celebration.    

“We  offer  a  wide  and  ever-­?changing  variety  of  craft  and  home  decor  products   including  many  exclusive  Hobby  Lobby  brands,”  stated  John  Schumacher,  Assistant   Vice  President  of  Advertising.  “First-­?time  shoppers  in  Woodbridge  will  be  pleasantly   surprised  at  the  large  store  and  exceptional  service  provided  by  our  associates.”        

Hobby Lobby has over 700 stores across the nation. Each store offers more than 75,000 crafting and home decor products including floral, fabric, needle art, custom framing, baskets, home accents, wearable art, arts and  crafts, jewelry making. 

Just outside Manassas on Tuesday, Uptown Alley opened its doors at Manassas Mall. 

From the company: 

The newest location of the nationally acclaimed Uptown Alley concept will open its doors at the recently renovated Manassas Mall (8300 Sudley Road, Manassas, Va.) on Tuesday, August 23, at 11 a.m. The $11.5 million, 46,000 square foot entertainment and restaurant venue features 24 high-tech bowling lanes, a professional sound stage for live entertainment, three high-energy bars, laser tag, interactive games with prize store and Red Embers Bar & Grill, with a menu highlighting the best in Americana cuisine, created by award-winning Chef Brad Rishmany.

The immersive entertainment experience features Brunswick® regulation-sized bowling lanes, including ten private lanes, designed for all types of bowlers, from beginner to experienced league bowler. Uptown Alley’s lanes have all the latest in the modern day bowling experience, including 15-foot projection HDTVs, black light party bowling experience, music videos, state-of-the-art scoring system and gutter bumpers for beginners.

Uptown Alley also boasts a bar a grill, billiards, and a laser tag arena inside its Manassas-area location. This is third Uptown Alley to open, following locations in Arizona and a location outside Richmond.

 

News
Bottle bombs found inside Woodbridge home

From Prince William fire and rescue: 

On Tuesday, August 23rd at 3:17 p.m., a Prince William County Fire Marshal was investigating a citizen’s complaint reporting a suspicious device [at a home in the 1500 block of Arum Place in Woodbridge]. Upon discovering the device, additional fire and rescue resources were requested. The County Police also provided on-scene assistance.

During the investigation, several plastic bottles containing an unknown chemical substance were located. The immediate area was evacuated and cleared, and neighborhood residents were protected from harm. The Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit from the Virginia State Police was requested to the scene to assist. Among the devices, four were found complete and needed to be rendered safe by EOD. The devices were cleared without incident or injury.

Due to the potential danger from the mixture bottle bombs may contain, anyone coming in contact with the materials while manufacturing or discharging the device can sustain serious and long-term debilitating injuries. Permanent injuries to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract can be common.

The Fire Marshal’s Office would like to remind the community that individuals involved with the possession, manufacture, or discharge of chemical bottle bombs face potential criminal charges for their actions. Additionally, they may be held responsible for costs associated with any property damage, emergency response and mitigation (Police, HazMat, Fire and Rescue), and clean up. In this particular incident, the alleged parties have been identified and the investigation continues.

News
Seven displaced in Dale City fire

Dale City Volunteer Fire Department (Boulevard's Bravest) 2
 
From Prince William fire and rescue: 
 
On Tuesday, August 23 rd at 1:42 a.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a structure fire in a single-family home located in the 14800 block of Danville Road in Dale City.
 
Upon arrival, fire and rescue crews observed fire blazing from the rear of a 2-story split level house. Firefighters extinguished the fire that had extended into the home and through the roof.
 
No injuries reported.
 
The fire was discovered by one of the residents approximately one hour after placing ashes from a charcoal grill into a recycling bin located outside behind the home. The resident alerted the remaining family members enabling everyone to safely evacuate the home.
 
Red Cross was called to assist the occupants, 5 adults, 2 children and 1 dog, displaced by the fire.
 
A Building Official was on scene and has posted the home unsafe.
 
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, preliminary damages are estimated at $200,000.
 
The area of origin was the home’s exterior; the cause was placing ashes from a charcoal grill in a combustible recycling container and has been determined accidental.

News
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.

prince william aqatics facility

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.

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

quantico john clair

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

Updated 

 

Updated 

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
Fire rips through Lake Ridge home

sugarhill

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.

 

News
Dominion, Virginia officials differ on who pays for Haymarket power line

overhead power line route

The Virginia State Corporation could go either way, telling Dominion Virginia Power that a proposed power transmission line along Interstate 66 to serve a new data center in Haymarket could run above ground, or that it could allow the utility to build hybrid option where part of the power line is buried.

The hybrid option is popular with residents who don’t want to see a 230-kilovolt transmission line when they look out their windows and are concerned about what a towering power line could do for property values. Last year at a series of public meetings, Dominion officials said an above-ground line provides more reliable service and costs less to maintain.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) and Dominion differ, however, on who will pay for whatever power line is built in western Prince William County. In previous cases, the cost to construct a new transmission line had been picked up by ratepayers, also known as Dominion customers.

An August 5th report issued by the SCC states that the new data center requesting the new transmission line, commonly rumored Amazon, Inc., should pay the cost of placing a portion of the transmission line underground, should the hybrid option be selected.

That cost could be as much as $115 million, states the report.

Officials at Dominion Virginia Power are still pushing for the overhead option. Company spokesman Chuck Penn issued this statement:

“…we firmly believe we have proven that the line is needed, that the I-66 Overhead Route reasonably minimizes adverse impacts at a reasonable cost, has minimal construction impacts, can be constructed in time and that the cost recovery of this transmission line should be treated in the usual way that all electric transmission lines are treated – since this line will benefit the electric transmission grid as a whole and will have broad general public benefits on day one of its completion.

The company also disagrees with the assessment that the data center should pay the amount of the increased costs.

Penn continued:

We respectfully differ with the SCC staff’s interpretation of the facts and law in this case as it relates to cost recovery. The Hearing Examiner presiding over this case still has to issue his report of findings based on the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing and make recommendations to the Commission. Ultimately, it is for the SCC Commissioners, based on the evidence and facts properly presented, to determine the final outcome.

A final hearing with the SCC commissioners has yet to be scheduled. Two public hearings about this case were held in Richmond on June 21 and 22.

News
Lake Ridge neighbors outraged at murders of two counselors

Ronald Dorsey, Jr. was not a suspect following the disappearance and murder of Lizeth Lopez, 36, in April.

Lopez, an employee of Intercept Youth Services, Inc. — a private firm that provided housing and counseling for at-risk teens and adults inside Dominion Middle Ridge Apartments just off Smoketown Road in Lake Ridge, disappeared April 19. Her body was found 10 days later in a nearby sewer.

Until August 5 police had no suspect in her murder and were considering three possible motives: 1. A domestic situation turned bad. 2. Her death was a random crime of opportunity for her killer. 3. Her death was possibly work related.

Authorities went with the latter motive when the body of Erica Hickson, 37, also a counselor at Intercept Youth Services, Inc.– was found in the woods behind the apartment complex. She was reported missing to police that same day.

Erica Janelle Hickson 1

Hickson

Dorsey was quickly charged with murdering both women. Investigators said he killed both counselors on the apartment complex property and then hid their bodies.

Both victims were strangled to death. It’s still unclear if the women were sexually assaulted.

Police and elected officials Tuesday night stood in front of hundreds of Lake Ridge residents who were shocked and outraged at the murders of two innocent women. They demanded answers, though police were limited on the amount of information due to the nature of the ongoing criminal investigation.

“It’s important that we follow a process, and that process is progress. We charged a person, he is charged with a crime; we met with a prosecutor, and the court process will begin,” said Prince William police Chief Barry Barnard. “This will be a long criminal justice process, and in courts is where we will discuss evidence at that time.”

Dorsey, RonaldDorsey was interviewed following Lopez’s death in April, but detectives told the crowd gathered at Old Bridge United Methodist Church Tuesday that, at the time, they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with the crime.

Despite an increased police presence outside Dominion Middle Ridge Apartments following Hickson’s death, police are adamant that they have their sole suspect in custody.

Residents said the murders shocked many in the neighborhood. Some stated that they now walk their dogs with a taser in hand for self-defense, while others wanted to know why Intercept Youth Services, Inc.was allowed to operate at the apartment complex without notifying the public.

Landlords are not required by law to provide such notification of these types of programs, said DJ Jordan, who serves on the Virginia State Social Services Board, He called the series of murders “extremely rare.”

“I’ve spoken with several officials at social services in Richmond today, and they cannot remember a case like this,” Jordan told the crowd.

Intercept Youth Services will now close following Dorsey’s arrest. The suspect lived in one of four apartments at Dominion Middle Ridge that the company used to house its at-risk clients. A fifth unit apartment was used a business office, police said. 

Dorsey lived with a roommate a the apartment complex, where he also received counseling. The rules stipulated those involved with the Intercept Youth Services, Inc.program and living in the apartments had to be going to school or be employed, police said. 

The Prince William County Department of Social Services contracted with Intercept Youth Services, Inc.for 16 years.

“We have used Intercept Youth Services with great success in the past,” explained social services director Courtney Tierney. “These services are provided to teens that reach adulthood without a family placement, or who are in need of more skills before the transition to adulthood.” 

The closure of the Intercept Youth Services facility will mean at least seven at-risk youth will be sent back to a social worker who will be charged with finding them a new temporary home. Others who spoke Tuesday night urged residents not to “let one bad apple ruin the whole bunch” when it comes to their impressions of at-risk children.

“This is your community. You have to step up and mentor these young people, or else they will end up on the streets panhandling,” said Derrick Riggins, who grew up in a foster home. “Go ask any kid in the system and ask them to name five people in their lives who aren’t paid to be in their lives. I’ll bet they can’t, but they will remember that mentor who volunteered to be with them for a few hours a week.” 

News
Stewart says E-ZPass Express Lanes part of problem, calls for widening I-95

Corey Stewart is the At-large Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. He oversees the second-largest county government in the state. 

Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser caught up with him to talk about the region’s traffic congestion and transportation woes. 

Kiser: Let’s talk transportation. That’s on the minds of just about everyone who lives in Northern Virginia.

We’re fresh off the heels of successes announced by Governor Terry McAuliffe: We’re getting the extension of the E-ZPass Express Lanes extension to Fredericksburg, we’re about to break ground on the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes project both inside and outside the Beltway, so as those projects advance, what’s left?

What are some of those critical projects that you see for the region, especially as they impact Prince William County residents, and how are we working as a region to solve these transportation problems?

Stewart: Well, the E-ZPass is not a panacea. It doesn’t solve all of the problems and, in fact, in an many ways it’s exacerbated some of the problems, especially in the [Interstate] 95 corridors.

So, what we need to do is, we need to continue to widen [Interstate] 95. Currently, the main lanes are widened to the bridge over the Occoquan River. It’s my intention to push the state to widen the lanes all of the way back, at least all of the way through Prince William County and perhaps behond that to elminate this bottleneck that we still have, despite the E-ZPass, despite the express lanes, we’re still going to have some blockages there and that needs to be fixed.

Also, in Prince William County, we’ve had our own road-building program for several years. There are still stretches of Route 1 that need to be improved.

Route 28 all the way from the Fairfax [County] line to the City of Manassas, it looks terrible and in addition to that its a real bottleneck fro commuters leaving Prince William County and coming back home in the evening. That’s got to be fixed.

We’ve got a lot of other road projects but those are the priorities, at least for me.

 

News
Dumfries cuts jobs, chief’s salary in police expansion effort

dumfries shooting 2 (2)

The Dumfries Police Department will be forced to eliminate two positions, and lower the police chief’s salary as part of a restructuring and expansion effort.

Town leaders voted 4-3 on August 3 to implement a reduction in force that will see the elimination of a current police captain position, one civilian administrator job, and the reduction of Chief Rebecca Edwards annual salary of $95,000 to $70,000.

Afterward, three new full-time police officers will be hired with a yearly salary of $46,500 each. The move, officials said, would allow the department to restore nearly 24-hour policing services to the town — something the department has not seen since 2006.

Prince William County Police Department officers regularly respond to emergency calls alongside Dumfries police during the day and is the single department to respond to calls during overnight hours.

“The citizens are the one that drive this. They are the ones who want to want to know ‘where is the police officer,’ and ‘Why is Prince William County always responding to this?” said Dumfries Councilman Cliff Brewer.

Mayor Jerry Foreman authored a report that recommended the reduction in force. The elimination of two higher-salaried positions would allow the department to hire three new officers to expand police patrol coverage and keep within the town’s $4.9 million operating budget approved in June — the largest town budget ever, noted Foreman.

Overall, the move will save taxpayers $71 per year, according to Foreman’s report.

“Let’s not make this about the quality of the police department. I’m just as proud of the officers in our department as anyone else,” said Foreman, defending his recommendation.

Chief Edwards sent a letter to then Town Manager Daniel Taber in June indicating that at least four new sworn police officers would be required to achieve near 24-hour police coverage in the town. Before the Town Council voted for the reduction in force, the department had 11 positions to include a chief, captain, two sergeants, six patrol officers, and a school resource officer. 

The department would still need to rely on assistance from Prince William County for larger investigations, and specialty units such as K-9 teams and SWAT, said Edwards.

Much of what the Dumfries department officers do is defined as “community policing,” where officers frequently walk a beat and talk with residents, said Edwards. The department would still need to rely on assistance from Prince William County for larger investigations, and specialty units such as K-9 teams and SWAT, she noted.

Foreman suggested the town review the roles and responsibilities, noting that “Since 2010, there appears to be some scope and mission creep within the department’s operations.” 

The move will have no bearing on what services county police provide to town residents.

“We will still have a presence in the town and respond to handle major investigations and provide other resources as needed,” said Prince William police 1st Sgt. Jonathan Perok.

The move comes as the town is between Town Managers, following the retirement of Daniel Taber. Some on the Town Council wanted to put off changes at the police department until a new town manager is hired.

“We have a new town manager coming in October. Let’s give them plenty of time to assess and make changes before we implement 24-hour service,” said Councilman William Murphy, who voted against the move. “I don’t want to put them in a position that would tie their hands or hurt them as they’re trying to succeed.”

Edwards states her department has been in a transition since 2010 when the department had 15 officers. “Challenging economic times that followed resulted in the number of the sworn positions being decreased to 10,” states Edwards in her letter to Taber. 

With the addition of a School Resource Officer at Dumfries Elementary School in 2013, the department now has 11 sworn officer positions.

 

News
Police investigate rash of robberies in eastern Prince William

7-Eleven Robberies

From Prince William police: 

Armed Robberies On August 7, officers and detectives with the Robbery Unit responded to investigate three separate robberies which occurred between 12:37AM and 2:06AM at 7-Eleven stores located at 14820 Cloverdale Dr, 15052 Cardinal Dr, and 1701 Featherstone Rd in the Woodbridge area. In each incident, employees reported to police that two unknown men entered the store brandishing a firearm and a silver bat. During the encounter, the suspects demanded money and cigarettes before fleeing the area possibly in a dark SUV or van. No injuries were reported. The investigation continues.

Suspect Descriptions:

Light skinned black or Hispanic males, between 24 & 27 years of age, 5’06’’-6’00” with thin builds

Suspect 1 was last seen wearing a grey mask, white gloves, blue/grey long sleeve shirt, grey sweatpants, and grey shoes

Suspect 2 was last seen wearing red or burgundy backpack, a black mask, black long sleeve shirt, green camo pants, and black/yellow shoes

  

Armed Robbery On August 7 at 12:09AM, officers responded to the 2700 block of Potomac Mills Cir in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a robbery. The victim, a 35-year-old man of Woodbridge, reported to police that he was walking to his vehicle located in a parking lot in the above area when he was approached from behind by an unknown man. During the encounter, the suspect placed a metal object against the victim’s head and demanded a bag containing a bank deposit from a nearby business. The suspect took the bag then fled the area on foot. No injuries were reported. A police K-9 was used to search for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

A black male last seen wearing all black clothing No further description available

 

Armed Robbery On August 6 at 8:40PM, officers responded to the Harbor Freight Store located at 14250 Smoketown Rd in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a robbery. Several employees reported to police that an unknown man and woman entered the store brandishing handguns and demanding money. The suspects took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing the area on foot. No injuries were reported. A police K-9 was used to search for the suspects who were not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Descriptions:

Black male, 6’01” with a thin build No further description available

Last seen wearing a black mask, black jacket, and jeans

Black female with a thin build No further description available

Last seen wearing a black mask, beige jacket, and jeans

 

Armed Robbery On August 5 at 11:35PM, officers responded to the 7-Eleven located at 14517 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a robbery. Store employees reported to police that two unknown men entered the store then grabbed some beer. When they approached the counter, one of the men displayed a handgun and demanded money. The suspects fled the area in a small pick-up truck without taking any money when additional customers entered the store. No injuries were reported. The investigation continues.

Suspect Descriptions:

Black male, between 25 & 40 years of age, 5’11”, 240- 250lbs, with a medium complexion, and full beard

Last seen wearing a dark hat, dark jacket, faded black jeans, and black/white shoes

White male, between 25 & 35 years of age, with a medium complexion, and goatee

Last seen wearing a multi-colored backpack, black hat, white rimmed glasses, black jacket, black pants, and black/white New Balance shoes

 

Strong Armed Robbery On August 8 at 12:44AM, officers responded to the area of Occoquan Rd and Hylton Ave in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a robbery. The victim, a 37-year-old man of Woodbridge, reported to police that he was walking in the above area when he was approached by two unknown men. During the encounter, the men punched the victim in the face then took his wallet before fleeing the area on foot. A police K-9 was used to search for the suspects who were not located. The victim was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

Two black males, between 18 & 20 years of age, 5’10”-6’00” No further description available

 

 

Strong Armed Robbery | Domestic Assault and Battery On August 6 at 11:55PM, officers responded to the 2600 block of Neabsco Common Pl in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a domestic assault. The victim, a 35-year-old woman of Woodbridge, reported to police that she and the accused, an acquaintance, were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter, the accused punched the victim in the face then grabbed her cell phone before fleeing the area. Minor injuries were reported. Following the investigation, officers obtained warrants for the arrest of the accused. Attempts to locate the accused have been unsuccessful.

Wanted: [No Photo Available]

Devon GORDON, 35, of 110 Vassar Dr in Newark, New Jersey

Described as a black male, 6’02”, 300lbs with black hair and brown eyes

Wanted for robbery and domestic assault & battery

 
 

 

 

News
Prince William County Fair starts Friday

The Prince William County Fair kicks off this Friday at 5 p.m.

The annual event just outside Manassas City will feature carnival rides, livestock, a petting zoo, a stingray petting area, wine tastings, chainsaw art, live music, dinosaur shows, local crafters, and vendors, a
4-H display, and the always popular demolition derby in the grandstand.

The fair also features several competitions from best livestock, flowers, plants, and vegetables, photography, pet show, and baby contest.

The event is held at the Prince William County Fairgrounds, located at 10624 Dumfries Road in Manassas.

Advance discounted tickets are $6, and $5 for children and seniors. An advance family pack of five tickets is sold for $50. These tickets may not be used on August 16, and do not include admission to the grandstand area where the demolition derby is held.

Advance discounted tickets are sold at the fair office at the fairgrounds. Tickets are also sold at the door.

The Prince William County Fair was started 67 years ago by a group of World War II veterans. The Prince William Veterans Farm Club, the group that puts on the fair, prides itself on taking no tax dollars from any government source — local, state, or federal — to put on the show.

The Prince William County Fairgrounds is located at 10624 Dumfries Road in Manassas.

News
Gabes to open store at Featherstone Square in Woodbridge

gabes

Discount clothing retailer Gabriel Brothers, also known as Gabes, will open at Featherstone Square shopping center in Woodbridge.

The nearly 40,000 square foot store will replace an old antique shop that used to be located in the shopping center. In the 1980s, the now defunct Dart Drug and Trak Auto chain stores operated stores there.

Gabes sells designer clothing for up to 70% off retail prices. The company operates 58 stores in the U.S., including a location on Route 3 in Spotsylvania County just outside Fredericksburg.

Building plans for the new clothing store are under review at the Prince William County Development Services Office, said branch chief Chris Roop.

Gabes has not announced an opening date for the new location, said Roop.

The clothing retailer did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Last year, we reported the owners of Featherstone Square and county officials were in talks to remake the shopping center and give Featherstone Square a more upscale look.

A total of 118 homes were built next to the shopping center. The homes sold quickly, according to shop owners at Featherstone Square.

News
Here are the people Trenum wants to temporarily replace him on the Prince William School Board

Updated

Kim Simons withdrew her name from consideration to temporarily fill Gil Trenum’s seat on the Prince William County School Board. 

An earlier version of this post showed Simon’s resume. It was removed. 

Original post

Gil Trenum says he’ll stay the course and continue advocating for school leaders to choose one of three handpicked interim successors for him.

Trenum, the Brenstville District representative on the Prince William County School Board, is a Naval Commander by day and will deploy for Djibouti, Africa this month for one year. 

Until yesterday, the Prince William County School Board sought legal advice from the state’s Attorney General’s Office on how to proceed to temporarily fill Trenum’s seat. Word came from that office that it is required by law to fill the seat with whomever the Board chooses, and then give back the seat to Trenum when he returns from duty.

Here’s a letter we received this morning from Trenum: 

Today State Senator Scott Surovell (D) posted an informal opinion on an online newsletter from the Office of the Attorney General, Mark Herring (D) that is inconsistent with the legal advice given to me by the non-partisan Privileges & Elections Attorneys from the Division of Legislative Services. This opinion has still not been officially provided to the School Board.  My actions and statements in fact have been based entirely on the independent legal advice I received from the Division of Legislative Services. The fact that the Attorney General does not agree with their independent opinion is not my issue to resolve.  An Attorney General’s opinion is not law, it is just an opinion, however we must move forward from here.

My position remains the same; I still feel that for the Brentsville District to have the most consistent and effective representation that the temporary appointment should come from someone with whom I have already developed a good working relationship.  From the beginning I sought to leave partisanship out of this decision by selecting three volunteers who are not past or present members of any local party committee.  I selected parents I knew had been dedicated to the schools for years in various volunteer positions and who have extensive budget committee experience.  They are all individuals who have consistently put students and teachers first.  I would be proud to continue to work with any of these three citizens. 

I’m not asking for anything more than the support of my fellow Board members during this stressful time.  By choosing from one of the three individuals whose resumes I provided to the entire board, we can ensure there will be an easy transition and a positive working relationship.  The Attorney General’s opinion allows for that and it is a wise course of action for the Brentsville District that I have represented for 3 consecutive terms.

By supporting my wishes, the Board will also be respecting the wishes of the Brentsville District citizens who have been vocal about their support of my temporary replacement suggestions.  I hope that the School Board will see that decision is the best for all involve

Here are the resumes of the three people Trenum wishes to fill his seat on an interim basis: 

Download the PDF file .

Download the PDF file .

News
Erica Janelle Hickson missing from Lake Ridge

Erica Janelle Hickson 1

From Prince William police: 

*MISSING ENDANGERED ADULT: The Prince William County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing, endangered adult, Erica Janelle Hickson. On the morning of August 5th, officers responded to the 12300 block of Pond Run Dr in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a missing person. The investigation revealed that Ms. Hickson was last seen at approximately 8:30PM on August 4th in the area. Ms. Hickson may be in need of assistance which qualifies her as being endangered. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call police at 703-792-6500.

Erica Janelle Hickson is described as a 37 year old black female, 5’6’’, and 170lbs. She has brown hair with brown eyes. At this time, it is unknown what type of clothing Ms. Hickson was wearing.

Erica Janelle Hickson 2

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