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Manassas Journal Messenger building demolished

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The vacant home of a newspaper that served Manassas for more than 150 years is under demolition today.

Heavy equipment rolled into the former home of the Manassas Journal Messenger at 9009 Church Street in Downtown Manassas on Thursday. Walls were torn down to make way for a new development called Messenger Place, which will feature 94 new condos in a new multi-storey building. There will be 3,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

The Manassas Journal Messenger was a daily newspaper that served the city, Manassas Park, and western Prince William County. The paper, along with the Potomac News in Woodbridge, was purchased by Media General in 2008.

The two newspapers featured similar content but had separate banners until Media General merged the papers in 2009, changing its name to News & Messenger. The combined newspaper operated under that name until Media General sold it to Berkshire Hathaway in 2012.

The paper was closed shortly after that.

Photos: Patty Prince, Manassas City spokeswoman 

Apollo housing project wins approval despite cries of school overcrowding

A total of $4.3 million in proffers from the developers of a new townhome complex was too much for county leaders to pass up.

Apollo Enterprises got the green light from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors for a rezoning to build up to 100 new townhomes, a self-storage lot, and small retail shops on near the corner of Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road near Woodbridge. The project will also bring an extension of Ridgefield Village Parkway, connecting Hoadly Road with Apollo Drive.

Supporters of the project, which won prior approval from the county’s Planning Commission, lauded its plan to leave nearly a quarter of the 25-acre property untouched with trees, as well as build a public plaza where local artists can be showcased.

Others said the new homes would place more burden on an already overcrowded school system, as well as take up land that could otherwise be used to attract new jobs near the county’s McCoart Government Center.

“There are simply not enough funds to build new schools and hire new teachers,” said Doug Widener, of Gainesville to the Board of Supervisors. “What is it going to take for you to stop approving new homes that cause overcrowding [in schools]?” (more…)

Prince William brewery wins 1st place in statewide craft beer cup

From a press release: 

“The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild held the 2017 Virginia Craft Beer Cup Awards Ceremony Monday, June 5, 2017, at WestRock in Richmond, Virginia. There were more than 240 brewers in attendance to celebrate excellence in craft beer this year. The Virginia Craft Beer Cup competition was managed by master Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judge Tom Cannon and 40 judges. The competition also benefits from the continued counsel of Bill Butcher, Port City Brewing, and Bill Madden, Mad Fox Brewing. This year 356 beers in 24 categories were entered into the

The competition also benefits from the continued counsel of Bill Butcher, Port City Brewing, and Bill Madden, Mad Fox Brewing. This year 356 beers in 24 categories were entered into the competition. The judging took place Saturday, May 13th at Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, Virginia.

The Virginia Craft Beer Cup continues to be the largest state competition of its kind in the United States. The VCBG is committed to giving its members the opportunity to compete in VA, obtain critical feedback from certified judges and get noticed statewide.”

Local winners:  (more…)

Police searching for man who robbed 2 stores on Route 1

From police: 

“Armed Robberies – On June 21 at 12:39AM, officers responded to the 7-Eleven located at 13940 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a robbery. An employee reported to police that an unknown man entered the business and approached the counter. During the encounter, the suspect implied he had a weapon then demanded money from the employee and a customer. The suspect took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing the area on foot. No weapons were displayed and no injuries were reported. A police K-9 searched the area for the suspect who was not located. Later that morning around 7:25AM, the same suspect entered the Shell service station located across the street at 13801 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) and approached the counter. During this encounter, the suspect again implied he had a weapon and demanded money. When the employee refused to give him money, the suspect took the employee’s cell phone before fleeing the area on foot. No weapons were displayed and no injuries were reported. A police K-9 searched the area for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

Black male, approximately 20 years of age, 5’08”, 150lbs, with a light complexion

Last seen wearing a blue bandana covering his face, black hat, black hoodie jacket with grey sleeves, white shirt, grey pants, and black shoes”

Hit and run leads to robbery charges for Washington, D.C. woman

From police: 

“Strong Arm Robbery | Hit & Run *ARREST – On June 20, Brittany I’Esha BENNETT turned herself into police without incident at the Gar-Field Station in Woodbridge. The accused was wanted for robbery which occurred in the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Dale Blvd in Woodbridge on June 10.

Arrested on June 20:

Brittany I’Esha BENNETT, 18, of 415 Longfellow NW St in Washington, DC

Charged with robbery and hit & run

Court Date: July 18, 2017 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

Strong Arm Robbery | Hit & Run [Previously Released] – On June 10 at 3:30PM, officers responded to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Dale Blvd in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a robbery. The investigation revealed that the victim, an 18-year-old woman of Woodbridge, was traveling southbound on Jefferson Davis Hwy in the area of Featherstone Rd when she was involved in a vehicle accident with a 2003 black Honda sedan. When the driver of the Honda attempted to flee the area, the victim followed the vehicle to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Dale Blvd where it stopped at the intersection. The accused then got out of her vehicle and was involved in a verbal altercation with the victim. During the encounter, the accused assaulted the victim and took a cell phone before fleeing the area. No injuries were reported. Following the investigation, detectives with the Robbery Unit obtained a warrant for the arrest of the accused, identified as Brittany I’Esha BENNETT. The investigation continues.”

‘Some OmniRide routes will follow new routing, many OmniRide and eastern OmniLink routes will have updated schedule times to better reflect recent traffic conditions’

From a press release: 

“PRTC will implement a fare increase on Monday, June 26, and many bus schedules will change on Monday, July 3. In past years, any fare increase took effect on the same day as schedule and routing changes, but PRTC adjusted the date of this year’s fare increase to align with other regional transit providers participating in the SmarTrip fare collection system.

PRTC provides commuter and local bus services as well as ridesharing services in Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. PRTC also co-sponsors the Virginia Railway Express in partnership with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

Among the highlights of the coming changes: some OmniRide routes will follow new routing, many OmniRide and eastern OmniLink routes will have updated schedule times to better reflect recent traffic conditions, and fares will increase by an average of 5 percent.

The changes were identified through passenger comments and discussion with PRTC dispatchers and the staff of our contractor, First Transit Inc. Among the major routing changes: (more…)

Dyson, of Manassas, to perform at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans

From a press release: 

Mayah Dyson, of Manassas, VA, performs at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans – headlined by Diana Ross, John Legend, and Chance the Rapper – on Sunday, July 2. Dyson is an R&B singer-songwriter, actress, and dancer. In 2016, she appeared on Kelly Rowland’s TV show Chasing Destiny and sang backup for Solange on Saturday Night Live. Dyson’s latest video is for her song “I Miss You.”
The gig comes through Berklee’s Popular Music Institute (BPMI), which selected Dyson for the festival. BPMI gives students important performance experience and prepares them for the evolving music landscape – where festivals are booming.”

Prince William County Arts Council awards NOVEC for supporting arts

From a press release: 

“…the Prince William County Arts Council presented NOVEC with the Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Art Excellence award in the Business Supporter category. NOVEC has been honored with four Seefeldt Awards for its continued support of artists and art organizations in the region.”

From Terraya Lewis, Arts Recreation Specialist, PWC Arts Council:

“Why the Arts Council awarded NOVEC with the Seefeldt Award

         Outstanding Business Supporter – NOVEC proved worthy of meeting/exceeding these qualifications:

— has a significant history of support for the arts in the Region and/or a significant recent showing of support;

— demonstrates financial support for the arts

— encourages or inspires fellow businesses to significantly support the arts.

With info about the award itself /why it’s given out? (more…)

Prince William County Historic Preservation Division offers summer learning and fun in 2017

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At the end of the Prince William County school year, the Historic Preservation Division is gearing up for Summer Camps at Brentsville.

In addition to the popular Civil War Camp, Civil War Advanced Camp, and the Civil War Home Front Camp, We ae offering Camps for older participants this year. All historic Camps can be found in Summer 2017  Leisure Magazine and registration can be completed online by going to pwcparks.org or by calling 703-792-8320.

The 2017 season starts with the ever popular Civil War Basic Camp. This Camp will be held at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre from July 17th through the 21st and is conducted from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for children aged 8 to 12. Campers participate in activities designed to develop a better understanding of soldier life during the American Civil War. Activities include enlisting in Virginia’s Army, life in camp, infantry drill, “Did Civil War Soldiers really eat that stuff,” Civil War Medicine, and a field trip to Manassas Battlefield Park. The cost is $130 per person.

“On the Home Front” is to be held at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre from July 24th to the 28th from 9 a.m. to noon. From 1861 to 1865 our nation was at war with itself. Many of the men were away fighting while civilian populations tried to maintain as much a sense of normalcy as possible.

The purpose of this camp is to give both girls and boys aged 8 to 13 a unique opportunity to participate in many of the activities that civilians would have done on a day to day basis. Activities include 19th Century fishing, early games, Games and other pass times, needlework, a day on the farm to include live animals and tending the garden, making ice cream, cooking biscuits and making butter, fashions, a Friday picnic on the grounds. The cost is $150 per person. (more…)

Potomac Nationals baseball stadium fails to go to November referendum

A proposal to send the Potomac Nationals stadium deal to the voters failed on a tie vote.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted to kill a plan to place a stadium referendum on the November ballot after midnight Wednesday, following nearly three hours of discussion. If it had passed, the minor-league team’s owner Art Silber threatened to walk out of negotiations and sell the team that has played in Woodbridge since 1984.

Now, county and team officials, and property owner JBG Companies will continue talks about relocating the team from its current home behind the county government center to Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

The current deal calls for using bonds issued by the county’s Industrial Development Authority to backstop a loan for the construction of the $35 million stadium. That process could take over a year, as the county must complete a bond validation lawsuit, essentially suing itself, to ensure the bonds it issues are legal and valid.

“The bond validation suit could last up to 18 months,” said Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson. “We’re not looking at a brand new stadium soon. You’re in for the long haul on that one.” (more…)

3 charged in Dumfries hotel robbery

Jones, Trevor
Derry, Kyleen
Beck, James

From police: 

“Strong Armed Robbery – On June 19 at 6:39PM, officers responded to a hotel located in the 17100 block of Dumfries Rd in Dumfries (22025) to investigate a robbery. The victim, a 20-year-old woman of Kentucky, reported to police that four acquaintances came to her hotel room. During the encounter, the victim was assaulted and had money taken from her. The suspects fled the area in a vehicle prior to officers arriving. A responding officer located the vehicle a short time later and all the suspects were detained. No injuries were reported. Following the investigation, all four suspects were arrested.

Arrested on June 20:

James Ray BECK, 25, of 5004 East West Hwy in Riverdale, Maryland
Charged with robbery, abduction, give false identify to law enforcement officer, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and preventing the summoning of law enforcement

Kyleen Heather DERRY, 23, of 2811 Ross Ave in Sparrow Point, Maryland
Charged with robbery, abduction , contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and preventing the summoning of law enforcement (more…)

Minor League Baseball President on stadium referendum: ‘Save your money’

Potomac Nationals Stadium coverage


The president of Minor Leauge Baseball today showed his frustration at the lack of urgency to build the Potomac Nationals a new stadium.

The A-Advanced team since 1984 has played at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, a place that MiLB President Pat O’Conner says is not up to the league’s player development and fan standards. He flew to Virginia from St. Petersburg, Fla. to speak to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors who are scheduled to vote on whether or not to send to referendum a proposal to backstop a $35 million stadium funding deal.

“If you do vote for the referendum, save your money and don’t call for the question,” O’Conner told the board.

Potomac Nationals Team Owner Art Silber has agreed to fund construction of a new 6,000 capacity, 4,200-seat stadium, to give ownership of the ballpark to the county, and let the county government use the stadium 183 days a year, in exchange for the county issuing bonds to fund the project.

If all goes to plan, the team pays back the bonds over 30 years in a $2.3 million annual payment, as well as a $450,000 land lease for the stadium property, with a 10% lease escalation clause every five years. If something goes awry, taxpayers would be on the hook for the debt. (more…)

VRE won’t run Firecracker Special trains this year

The Firecracker Special has burnt out.

Virginia Railway Express announced it would not run its two trains from Manassas and Fredericksburg to the Independence Day celebration and fireworks display in Washington, D.C. on July 4.

The commuter railroad does not offer regular service on that day because of the holiday. The decision to not run the Firecracker Special this year is based on last year’s low ridership numbers, the fact that July 4 falls mid-week on Tuesday, and that “getting the service ready to run for the next morning would be very challenging,” according to a VRE spokesman.

Last year, VRE had a ridership goal of 1,000 per line on July 4. There were 161 on the Manassas line and 364 passengers on the Fredericksburg line.

Last year, tickets for the Firecracker Special were sold for $10 a person.

The Firecracker Special was brought back in 2014 after a 10-year hiatus. Trains on both lines took passengers to Union Station where they could depart and walk the rest of the way to the National Mall for the Independence Day celebration and fireworks. In 2004 and years prior, the July 4 trains stopped at L’Enfant Plaza.

$9.4 million in roadway improvements needed at proposed baseball stadium site

Transportation officials in Prince William County identified seven projects at the cost of $9.35 million that need to be completed ahead of a new Potomac Nationals baseball stadium.

These roadway improvements are all centered around the site of the $35 million proposed baseball stadium, which sits at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center, between a Wegmans grocery store and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The most expensive on the list is a $3 million project to add a new right lane to Opitz Boulevard in front of the hospital. The new lane on Opitz would carry cars turning left from Potomac Town Center Drive, from a newly constructed $1.5 million turn lane at the intersection.

Together, the $4.5 million effort would add capacity at the busy the intersection and roadway. The new lane on Opitz Boulevard would carry drivers onto a nearby entrance ramp to Interstate 95 north. At 1,416 feet, the lane would be long enough so that drivers not wishing to enter the highway could merge out of the lane before entering the ramp, said Prince William County Transportation Department Director Rick Canizales.

The new lane would require the county to take land from the hospital at cost between $225 and $275,000, he added.


Stolen truck used to make fake traffic stop in Woodbridge

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From a press release: 

“Impersonating a Police Officer | Stolen Vehicle On June 18 at 10:21PM, officers responded to investigate a suspicious vehicle which was reported in the area of Prince William Pkwy and Reids Prospect Dr in Woodbridge (22192).

A citizen reported to police that a white 2016 Chevrolet Silverado activated blue flashing lights which were mounted on the sun visors inside of the vehicle and was attempting to pull over a silver 2005 Mercury Mountaineer in the above area. The investigation revealed that the driver of the Mountaineer, believing the Silverado to be law enforcement, pulled over.

During the encounter, an unknown man exited the Silverado and identified himself as an off-duty police officer. As the driver of the Mountaineer was speaking with the suspect, a Prince William County police officer in a marked cruiser pulled in behind the Silverado and activated his emergency lights.

As the officer walked toward both vehicles, the suspect drove away in the Silverado. The officer got back into his cruiser and located the Silverado a short time later unoccupied. Further investigation revealed that the Silverado was reported stolen out of Fairfax County earlier that day. Officers checked the surrounding area for the suspect who was not located.

Anyone who may have had contact with this vehicle or suspect is asked to contact police at 703-792-6500. The investigation continues.

                Suspect Description:

                Black male, 5’09”, 175lbs with a medium complexion

                No clothing description is available at this time”

We’re told the stolen truck did not belong to a law enforcement agency.

6-inch gas line ruptures at Tacketts Mill

The smell of natural gas permeated Tacketts Mill.

Crews were working nearby the Lake Ridge shopping center Monday afternoon to repair a six-inch gas line that ruptured hours earlier. Fire and rescue crews were called to the area at 9:45 a.m. for a report of a gas leak.

Gas crews spent much of the day trying to locate the leak. A crew from Washington Gas set up shop near the Lake Ridge Fellowship House. a multi-story senior living building.

Crews spent most of their oxygen searching for the leak another tank was ordered so crews could use an air mask to breathe easy, not natural gas while making repairs.

No evacuations of any surrounding building were ordered, according to Capt. Bill Phillips, of the Prince William Fire and Rescue Department.

A portion of Harbor Drive, between Tacketts Mill and Lake Manor, drives, remained closed at 2:45 p.m. as crews continued to work on repairs.

Send news and photos with your cell phone to potomaclocal@gmail.com.

VRE submits proposal for $187 million in projects funded by I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes

Improvements would come to Manassas line, stations 

There’s a pot of $500 million on the table thanks to the Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes project, and Virginia’s commuter railroad wants its share.

Virginia Railway Express CEO Doug Allen won approval from the railroad’s operations board Friday to submit a $187 million proposal to the state for projects to include the widening of a train storage yard at Broad Run Station at the Manassas Airport and building a third track south of Manassas.

Other projects noted in the package include purchasing 10 new rail cars to extend the length of Manassas Line trains to accommodate more riders, extending a passenger waiting platform at the Downtown Manassas VRE station, and funding for a $26 million parking garage at the Manassas Park VRE Station. The unfunded projects have been on the commuter railroad’s long-range plan.

The $500 million is a lump-sum payment to the state from Express Mobility Partners, “a consortium of Spanish multinational company Ferrovial; a subsidiary, Cintra; global investment and asset management firm Meridian; and construction firm Allan Myers — to finance, design, maintain and operate the toll expressway” on I-66 for 50 years, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe through the state’s Northern Virginia Transportation Authority opened a bid for project proposals June 8. The bids close on June 28, and the monies expected to be awarded to the winning projects before McAuliffe leaves office in January. (more…)

30 craft breweries to be featured at Workhouse Brewfest 2017

From a press release:

More than 30 Virginia craft breweries, artisan distilleries, and Virginia wineries will be on tap at the second annual Workhouse Brewfest on Saturday, August 12, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia (9601 Ox Road, Lorton, 22079). This unique event will feature live performances by 12 of the region’s most popular bands, unique food trucks, access to 12 air-conditioned art galleries and 65 artist studios, and some of the area’s most exciting beer, spirits, and wine.

The day will provide an unforgettable experience for every kind of beer lover – from the knowledgeable beer geek to the casual drinker and those new to the world of craft beer. Fairfax County, Visit Fairfax, Fairfax County Park Authority, and Celebrate Fairfax are joining the Workhouse in producing this year’s Brewfest, which builds on the incredible success of the festival’s first event in 2016. Tickets can be purchased online at workhousebrewfest.org.

Fairfax County officials say they are thrilled to continue their support for Brewfest as part of the county’s plan to boost the economy, which includes encouraging entrepreneurs and innovation; promoting arts, hospitality, and tourism; and supporting events that cultivate a vibrant, energized community.

The event in its first year showcased the appeal and potential of these small businesses to be significant draws for tourism, business investment, and regional development. Brewfest’s success even contributed in part to Fairfax County leaders adopting new zoning rules that expand the areas where craft producers can operate in the county.

Brewfest also highlights how craft beer is a big business in Virginia. Craft breweries employ nearly 10,000 people and produce more than $1 billion in economic impact in the state, according to the Brewers Association. There are more than 164 licensed craft breweries in the state – including 9 in Fairfax County.

Of course, the arts also contribute significantly to the economic health of the county and enhance its appeal to many audiences. Americans for the Arts reports that in Fairfax County alone, direct economic activity tied to arts organizations and their audiences exceeds $80 million dollars per year.

P-Nats stadium ‘numbers concerning the overall cost of site work…keep changing’

An email from Roger Snyder, of Prince William County: 

“[Thursday] night the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association (WPCCA) hosted a “P-Nats Forum” at Potomac Shores. Seth Silber (P-Nats), Tom Sebastian (JBG) and Frank Principi (PWC) gave the same power point presentation made before the Chamber (twice) and the Committee of 100. The floor was then opened for questions with Principi controlling the q&a portion. JBG paid for a catered “reception” before the meeting that included gourmet appetizers, wine & beer. Several requests were made for audience support of the deal, including coming to the June 20 Board meeting to oppose the public referendum. Below are my observations and comments:


1. Once again, JBG failed to mention that it is leasing the land for the stadium charging a considerable fee. When this fact came up in response to a question, Sebastian told the audience that JBG had offered to sell the land, but PWC wasn’t interested. Previously, JBG had said the deal wouldn’t work with a land sale, that it “…had to be a lease”.

2. JBG’s power point slide (Copy attached) stated that JBG will “Provide land and conduct all site work (approximately $14 million net)”. This is a disingenuous statement at best. In fact, PWC/P-Nats will lease the land and PWC & the P-Nats will pay for most of the site work ($11 million) even though JBG will do the site work.

Duck Donuts offers free iced coffee on first day of summer

From a press release: 

“Duck Donuts announced today it is kicking off summer by offering its customers the opportunity to enjoy a free regular size iced coffee on Wednesday, June 21, no purchase necessary. Customers must present a printed or mobile coupon, available at duckdonuts.com, or on the company’s Facebook page.

Customers can choose from the Southern Pecan seasonal flavor or Duck Donuts’ signature coffee, Light House Blend.

Duck Donuts specializes in made-to-order donuts. Customers can choose from a variety of topping combinations, including traditional favorites such as chocolate icing with sprinkles and creations such as maple icing with bacon.

The family-friendly stores offer a viewing area where children and adults alike can watch their donuts being made. Duck Donuts also sells hot coffee, tea, and donut breakfast sandwiches.” 

Duck Donuts has locations at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge, Bristow Center in Bristow, and Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford.

Independence Day Event Guide 2017

From The Destination Management Tourism Organization of Prince William & Manassas:

Dale City Independence Day Parade

Thousands are expected to line Dale Boulevard on Saturday morning for the 47th annual Dale City Independence Day parade. The annual tradition in Dale City showcases scouting troops, churches, politicians, performing arts groups and other groups from throughout the area. The Family Fun Day festivities, including vendors, games and entertainment.

Celebrate America with Old Town Manassas
The fun starts with children’s activities, food vendors and a red, white and blue hayride followed by a fireworks display at the Manassas Museum. Bring your lawn chairs and get there early to get the best spots! (more…)

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