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Prince William

‘Escape Room’ opens in Lake Ridge October 15

Escape Room Woodbridge


Two local businesswomen are first to bring new live action entertainment trend to the area

Escape Rooms – the hottest new trend in entertainment – are arriving in Woodbridge! Escape Room Woodbridge is scheduled to open October 15th, at 12668 Darby Brook Ct. in Woodbridge. With three differently themed rooms, each accommodating up to ten people, Escape Room Woodbridge will be the first to offer this kind of interactive live gaming in Prince William County.

An escape room is a physical and interactive adventure game where players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and clues in order to escape within a set time limit. The games are physical versions of “escape the room” video games.

Co-Owners, Angela Curtis and Birgit Campana, have each lived and worked in PWC for over 20 years. “We are bringing fun to Prince William County. PWC is our home and a place we want to help continue to grow. It’s a great place to live and play.” says co-owner, Campana. “Excitement and adventure are right here in our neighborhood. Stay home and play in PWC.” Escape rooms started gaining attention in the U.S. about two years ago as locations first appeared in large cities and quickly became wildly popular. Before that, they were all the rage overseas, and it doesn’t appear their popularity will fade anytime soon.

Each room at Escape Room Woodbridge is themed differently, such as “Adventures in Wonderland”, “Lights, Camera, Murder” and “Dr. Jones’s Apprentice.” Co-owner Curtis says they are ready to help coordinate corporate events and personal celebrations, as well as individual players. “We would love to help you plan your team building event or party.”

The price for the Escape Room Woodbridge adventure is $28 per person for 60 minutes of puzzle and clue solving, and takes place Wednesdays – Sundays. Their motto is find the clue, solve the puzzle, play the game. For more information and convenient online scheduling visit them at

Man shot, killed on Wyndale Court in Woodbridge


Murder Investigation *SUSPECT IDENTIFIED and VICTIM NAME CORRECTION– Detectives from the Homicide Unit have identified the suspect as Juan Manuel POLANCO. The initial investigation revealed that the victim and the suspect were known to one another and were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter, the accused brandished a handgun and shot the victim in the upper body. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested. Please note the correction to the last name of the victim which was originally released. The victim’s correct last name is noted in italics.

                Arrested on September 23:

                Juan Manuel POLANCO, 27, of 1301 D Street in Woodbridge

                Charged with 1st degree murder

                Court Date: November 21, 2016 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond


The victim was identified as Francin Jose Solano CAMPO, 23, of Woodbridge


From Prince William police: 

Updated Homicide Investigation- On September 23 at 8:44PM, officers responded to the 3200 block of Wyndale Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a shooting. When officers arrived, they located a victim suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body and attempted to render aid.

The victim was then transported to an area hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries. Currently detectives do not believe this is random and a suspect is in custody with charges pending. The investigation continues and additional information will be released once it is made available. This is Prince William County’s 17th homicide of 2016.

* Identified: The victim was identified as Francin Solano Campo KEMPO, 23, of Woodbridge

Plans for mosque in Rural Crescent ready for planning commission


For the first time, the Prince William County Planning Commission will review plans for a mosque in Bristow.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society proposes building the Gainesville Community Center, a 22,400 square foot building large enough to house 500 people inside its worship hall. The center would be located at Vint Hill Road and Schaffer Lane, just inside the Rural Crescent land conservation area.

The project would need a special use permit issued by the Board of Supervisors after the Planning Commission approves it. A planning commission hearing date has yet to be set, but one could be set soon following the submission of revised site plans in late August, said Steve Donohoe, with the county’s planning office.

A previous set of plans for the site included a right turn lane, which would provide access to the property from Vint Hill Road to the center’s parking lot, that was not up to standards set by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The applicant went back to the drawing board and came up with new plans that relocated the turn lane into another portion of the property, said Donohoe. 

The planning process for the mosque has taken more than two years, which is significantly longer than normal. The average special use permitting process takes about nine months to a year, added Donohoe. 

The public has been extensively involved, and the Muslim association went back to speak with residents, and that has prolonged the approval process. 

“In this case, when you elicit a response from the public in such a way this one has, [the applicant has] gone to the public, to the citizens, to work with them,” said Donohoe. 

The Muslim association is expected to petition the Board of Supervisors for access to the county’s sewer system. Although in the rural area, the site will already have easy access to the county’s water system because the property sits in an “edge area” along the border of the Rural Crescent.


Service Authority to work on sewer system in Montclair



The Prince William County Service Authority will begin performing important preventative maintenance on the sanitary sewer system in Montclair next week.

The Service Authority will be lining sewer mains off Vista Drive with work scheduled to be finished in three weeks.

The inner walls of the sewer mains are lined with Cured-In-Place-Pipe. The lining process is done in lieu of replacing the pipe itself, which is often a much more costly and inconvenient measure for both customers and the utility.

Once completed, the resin-like substance used in the CIPP process hardens and essentially becomes a new pipe inside a pipe. This protects the main from tree root intrusion and corrosion that occurs over long periods of time. CIPP also prevents groundwater infiltration during rain events, which helps reduce wastewater treatment costs.

“If there are any cracks or roots in the line, it will make the pipe structurally sound again,” Inflow & Infiltration Department Supervisor James McCarroll said.

The average sewer pipe lasts about 40 years, while CIPP extends that lifespan to 90 years. Mains on Vista Drive are nearly 40 years old.

Each year, the Service Authority inspects more than a hundred miles of sewer line to see where CIPP might be implemented. From July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, the Service Authority lined nearly 50,000 feet of pipe.

“Once the CIPP is installed, our crews aren’t returning to the same pipe every three to six months to cut out roots or remove grease,” said Operations & Maintenance Director Don Pannell. “They’re able to move on to other important preventive maintenance activities.”

Cash in hand: Prince William County Science Accelerator gets $50,000


The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded $50,000 to the Prince William County Science Accelerator on Thursday.

The accelerator was chosen from a list of more than 800 applicants seeking the funding from the agency’s third annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The funding will be used to continue research happening at the center, located near the Science and Technology Campus of George Mason University just outside Manassas.

Carl Knoblock, from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Richmond office, said he worked with many tech start-ups in Pennsylvania before coming to Virginia.

“When I came to Virginia from Pittsburgh for years ago, I thought it would be on the same playing field, and it wasn’t. I kept hearing about biotech business, but I didn’t see it,” explained Knoblock. “Now we can say we have the resources to the compete with North Carolina and Maryland.” 

Overall, the region should position itself as a hub for science and IT businesses, he added. 

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman, At-large Corey Stewart said the Science Accelerator is now, for the first time, full of start-up companies doing research at the center. He called it the perfect match between “government and the private sector working to create jobs.” 

From Prince William County Economic Development: 

Prince William County prides itself on being home to the first and only public-private, commercially available wet lab space in Northern Virginia, which is uniquely located within Innovation Park, anchored by the George Mason University Science & Technology Campus. The Prince William Science Accelerator was created to provide the catalyst for a growing life sciences industry cluster.  The SBA grant will strengthen the Accelerator’s graduation program so each startup can successfully exit and function independently in the small business economy, which is achieved by addressing two key issues for scientists: resource constraints; and speed-to-market.

No cell phone tower for Prince of Peace United Methodist Church


A 144-foot cell phone tower will not be erected at the Prince of Peace United Methodist Chruch just outside Dale City.

The tower, denied by the Prince Willaim County Board of Supervisors, would have filled a gap in cell phone and data coverage in the area, serving Verizon customers.

Supervisor Marty Nohe made a motion to the deny the tower. It passed with Chairman At-large Corey Stewart being the only dissenting vote.

“I’ve heard there is a lot of concern and frustration on this. We’ve tried a couple of times to turn that around and try to give the applicant an opportunity to get that community buy-in, but that wasn’t successful…” said Nohe.

A neighboring shopping center and the Catholic church were also considered as alternative locations for the cell phone tower, but both property owners decided they didn’t want the tower on their sites.

While some spoke for the new tower, the majority spoke against the pole, calling outdated technology.

“Think about all of the changes in technology we’ve seen. He ad flip phones 10 years ago, and now we have 4G LTE phones. That’s important because we’re about to go to 5G and that’s important because things will be 1,000 times faster with 5G. Things have changed so fast, and the Prince of Peace church will sign 25 year agreement for this pole,” said resident Tim Singstock.

The Board was originally set to vote to allow or deny the pole in May. Leaders deferred the vote to allow the applicant, Calvert Crossland, to address additional concerns from the community.

Christopher Martino is new Prince William County Executive. He’s been doing the job since January



The Board of County Supervisors appointed Christopher Martino as the County Executive during their meeting this afternoon. Martino has been serving as Acting County Executive since Jan. 16, 2016, when the previous County Executive, Melissa Peacor, retired.
“The Board is very pleased to make this announcement,” said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Board of County Supervisors. “Chris is a great asset to this organization. He has a proven track record of working with the Board to get things accomplished, including overseeing the County’s achievement of the AAA bond ratings from all three of the major credit rating agencies. He oversaw the budget process this year as Acting County Executive, and continues to provide great knowledge and insight with regards to financial and organizational leadership.”   
As County Executive, Martino will manage the day-to-day administration of the government. The Board of County Supervisors is the policy-making body for Prince William County, and appoints the County Executive to execute its policies.
“I am humbled that the Board of County Supervisors has placed their confidence in me to be the County Executive,” Martino said. “It is a great honor to be able to work with the citizens of this county, the Board of Supervisors and the staff. Together, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of great improvements and changes over the past few years. I look forward to carrying on that work and the strategic priorities of the Board to continue to make Prince William County a community of choice for businesses and residents alike.”
Martino came to Prince William County in February 1996 as the Director of Finance, serving as the chief financial officer responsible for the administration of the financial affairs of the county. He was promoted to Deputy County Executive in March 2010, where he provided oversight for several departments, including Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance, Budget and Legislative Affairs. In that role, he also served as the Deputy Emergency Operations Director, as well as the liaison with the Prince William County Schools.
Martino has a Master of Business Administration Degree in Finance from New York University, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. He and his wife live in Prince William County. They have three adult sons.  

Never married, Louise A. Benton cared for children, and that’s why she got a school named for her

As the 2016-17 school year gets underway, new schools are opening, and the recent controversy over school names got me thinking “who are some of these people and what did they do to merit the honor of having a school named after them? “

There are schools that have the names of historical or political figures, but there are others named to honor educators or school administrators who served Prince William County. 

This series of articles will explore just a few of these special people.

Louise A. Benton

Louise A. Benton was born July 5, 1906. She spent much of her life in and around Washington D.C. Louise was a graduate of Benjamin Franklin University and one of the first Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company operators in the District of Columbia

After 36 years of service to the telephone company, she retired to begin a second career in Prince William County. In 1960 Louise moved to Prince William and took up residence on Hoadly Road. She worked at the Partridge School a Rehabilitation Center in Gainesville. 

Ms. Benton never married but was a foster mother to two daughters Louise was able to adopt and take responsibility for the raising of her grandson.

Louise collected used clothing, then washed, mended, and distributed the garments to families in need within the county. She tutored students housed at the County Juvenile Detention Home. At age 75, she was one of the first to take advantage of free classes being offered at then newly opened Northern Virginia Community College in Manassas to improve her skills as an educator.

She was an active member of the Manassas Women’s Club, Coles District Volunteer Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary, Woodbine Homemakers Extension Club, Prince William Hospital Auxiliary, Church of the Brethren Sewing Circle, League of Women Voters, Coles Little League Baseball Association, Garden Club, and Woodbine Baptist Church.

Benton died January 18, 1988. After her death, the Juvenile Detention Home planted a tree commemorating her service to the young folks housed there. The Woodbridge Homemakers club also acknowledged her by placing a brick with her name on it at the Manassas Museum. 

The foster children she took in were instrumental in having her name put before the school board for consideration as the name of the Middle School on Hoadly Road near the home where she lived as a resident of the county. The Homemakers Extension Club also put her name up for this purpose. She was considered one of the county’s most notable senior citizens.

Benton Middle School, located at 7411 Hoadly Road near Independent Hill, opened its doors in September 2000. Today, the school houses 1,350 students.7411 Hoadly Road

This post is written by the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division.

Occoquan 2016 Fall Craft Show is this weekend

Craft Show Garay Photos


The Fall Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show will be held rain or shine on Saturday, September 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, September 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Historic Occoquan. A 47-year tradition, this award winning outdoor street festival features more than 300 artisans and crafters, fun interactive activities for the kids, live entertainment and great food!

The Fall show is a great time to start your holiday shopping as it features many holiday-themed arts and crafts, as well as great gifts for family, friends and yourself!  Be sure to stop by the new River Mill Park to listen to live music and participate in fun activities perfect for the entire family.




Saturday, September 24

Time                           Performer                                                      Location

10 AM – 12 PM         DJ John Coulter                                            River Mill Park

12 – 2 PM                   Jahnel Daliya (Soul, R&B, Pop)                 River Mill Park

12 – 2 PM                   The Bull Run Troubadours                         Mamie Davis Park

2 – 3 PM                     DJ John Coulter                                            River Mill Park

3 – 5 PM                     Rocknoceros (Family, Pop, Rock)              River Mill Park

5 – 6 PM                     DJ John Coulter                                            River Mill Park


Sunday, September 25

Time                           Performer                                                      Location

10 AM                         DJ Theo                                                          River Mill Park

10:30 AM                   Performances by Virginia Dance Center  River Mill Park

11 AM                         DJ Theo                                                          River Mill Park

12 – 2 PM                   LATO (Blues, Rock, R&B, Soul)                 River Mill Park

12 – 2 PM                   David Toves (Guitarist)                              Mamie Davis Park

2 – 3 PM                     DJ Theo                                                          River Mill Park

3 – 5 PM                     Riptide (Classic Rock)                                 River Mill Park


In addition to scheduled performances at River Mill Park and Mamie Davis Park, the Rockledge Assembly of English Country Dancers will be performing throughout the event area. Also, while you are at the show, be sure to stop by the kid’s activity area in River Mill Park to create your own artwork with Edgemoore Art Studio and have your face painted or get your very own balloon art with Fairy Jennabelle.

Admission is free.  Off-site parking with shuttle bus service is available at the Vulcan Materials lot, Tackett’s Mill Commuter lot, Route 123 Commuter lot and the I-95 Commuter lot.  There is a $5 round trip shuttle fee payable at the event drop-off; kids 12 and under ride free.

Funds generated by the semi-annual Arts and Crafts Show supports the Town’s Capital Improvement Program, which includes maintaining, updating and implementing infrastructure improvements, building maintenance and other public improvements like streets, sidewalks, gaslights, stormwater and more.

For more information on the Fall Arts and Crafts Show, to volunteer to help during the event, or for special rates at area hotels, visit or, or contact Donna Brown, Events and Community Development Director, at (703) 491-2168 or

Prince William police tonight will train those who want to start neighborhood watch program


From Prince William police: 

The Crime Prevention Unit of the Prince William County Police Department is hosting a Neighborhood Watch training and meeting on Monday, September 19, at 7 p.m. The event should last about an hour.

Want to make a difference in your neighborhood? Starting a Watch program is a valuable first step, and this event will include the training needed to start one. Are you already part of a Watch? Come for a refresher and to meet other
Watch coordinators and members to share ideas.

Topics covered include crime reporting, emergency preparedness, Watch patrolling, active violence, and a Q&A session. This event will be held at the Police Department’s Western District Station, 8900 Freedom Center Boulevard in Manassas (20110).

The event is free but an RSVP is requested to ensure there are enough materials. Please respond to For more information, please call the Crime Prevention Unit at 703-792-7270.

Arts Alive! 2016 to he held at Hylton on Saturday


Arts Alive! 2016, a co-production of the Prince William County Arts Council and the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas is a free, family-fun arts festival on Saturday, September 17th, 2016 from 12 pm. to 4 pm at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

This highly anticipated annual community event celebrates the diversity and talent of visual and performing artists and ensembles from Prince William County and the City of Manassas, and also offers hands-on arts-related activities for children and adults, as well as food and craft vendors with items for sale. Admission and parking to the event are FREE. Arts Alive! 2016 Sponsors are United Bank and NOVEC.

This exciting afternoon will feature 30+ indoor and outdoor performances occurring on four stages: Merchant Hall, Gregory Family Theater and the Buchanan Partners Art Gallery inside the Hylton Center, and on a tent stage outside of the building and on the Hylton Performing Arts Center Patio Stage. Local artists and ensembles performing include Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra, Shenandoah Sound, Boyle Irish Dance, New Dominion Choraliers, Woodbridge Music Club, the Manassas Symphony, Fools! Improv and much more. There will also be strolling performers from the Center for the Arts.

Visual arts groups participating include the Manassas Warrenton Camera Club, Stone House Quilters and the Prince William Art Society. Activities for children include watercolor painting with Edgemoor Art Studio, face painting and a children’s story corner. Local artisans will sell their diverse arts- related wares, including jewelry, pottery, quilts and photography. Write by the Rails will sell books by local authors.

Arts Alive! 2016 will be held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Va. 20110. Free parking is available in the Tower lot behind the Hylton Center. Additional information about Arts Alive! 2016 is available at or

Wittman to meet and greet at Pitkins


From Sarah Pitkin, owner of Pitkins Ace Hardware: 

Please join us for a meet-n-greet with Congressman Rob Wittman.  Saturday September 24, 2016 from 12-2pm at our Woodbine Ace Hardware store: 13418 Dumfries Rd (Rt 234) Manassas, VA 20112.

The grill will be going with some hot dogs and fun treats.  The root beer will be flowing.  Come in, meet Rob and discuss what issues that are impacting our nation and Virginia are important to you!
Rep. Rob Wittman serves Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, portions of which include Prince William County. He is also mounting a campaign for Virginia Governor in 2017.

Prince William schools’ first indoor swimming pool opens


The new indoor pool opened to the public for the first time on Saturday. 

The Prince William County Aquatics Center at Charles Colgan Sr. High School offered free admission all day September 10. It was a chance for area residents to check out the new $11 million center complete with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, children’s pool, waterslide, and spectator area. 

The indoor pool is the first to be constructed inside a Prince William County public school.

Here’s our full story on the new aquatics center.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

Anderson to hold Occoquan town hall meetings

Prince William County Occoquan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson will hold a series of town hall meetings. 

From Anderson: 

Occoquan District Town Halls

As we enter into the fall months, I will be having four town halls around the district to give updates and hear from residents on the community.

What topics will be covered?
This series of Town Halls will include updates on the upcoming budget process (including seeking input for resourcing PWC Schools), public safety, parks initiatives, congestion think tank progress, economic development, animal shelter progress, human services and much more. The main purpose of these town halls is to provide more opportunity for residents to give us their ideas and input on anything in the district.

Town Halls

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Buckhall VFD
7190 Yates Ford Road
Manassas, VA 20111
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Thursday, September 15, 2016
Woodbridge Senior High School
Upper Cafeteria
3001 Old Bridge Road
Woodbridge, VA 22192
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 17, 2016
McCoart Administration Building,
BOCS Chambers
1 County Complex Court
Prince William, VA 22192
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, September 2219, 2016
Westminster at Lake Ridge
12191 Clipper Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22192
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Occoquan Police Chief, Town Sergeant Sheldon Levi to retire

During the September 6, 2016 Occoquan Town Council meeting, Occoquan Police Chief and Town Sergeant Sheldon Levi announced his retirement effective December 3, 2016, after more than six years in these positions. Levi first joined the Town of Occoquan as an Auxiliary officer in 2007, and was appointed Chief in 2010, following Occoquan Town Sergeant Mary Brown’s departure.  In June 2013, Levi, in addition to his police responsibilities, was appointed as Acting Town Manager, while the Town Council conducted a search for a permanent appointment to the position.

Levi is the Town’s only full-time police officer and, during his tenure, expanded the Town’s Auxiliary Officer program in an effort to reduce cost and increase police coverage and availability. Prior to his appointment, the Town employed anywhere from one to three full-time or part-time officers at various times throughout the department’s history. In addition, Levi is the Town’s first Chief of Police with the Town’s previous chief law enforcement officer being designated as Town Sergeant.

“Chief Levi has been much more than the Town’s chief law enforcement official in his tenure with the Town of Occoquan,” said Mayor Elizabeth A.C. Quist. “He has been an integral member of Town staff during a period of growth and transition, and I offer sincerest congratulations to him on his pending retirement. He will certainly be missed.”

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.

“I have been serving as your Chief of Police and Town Sergeant for over six years, but the time has come for me to open a new chapter in my life,” Levi stated during the meeting. “It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to work for the Town of Occoquan…and I will miss working at the best job I have ever held.”

The Occoquan Town Council will conduct a search to find Levi’s replacement throughout the coming weeks.

Pets perish in fire, microwave blamed

From Prince Willaim fire and rescue: 

On Tuesday, August 30th, at 7:11 p.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a townhouse fire located in the 3500 block of Buffalo Court in Dale City.

Upon arrival, fire and rescue crews observed smoke showing from the front of the townhome. As firefighters made entry, they discovered a microwave on fire in a hallway that had extended throughout the first floor. The fire was quickly extinguished. Several pets were found to have died in the fire.

Red Cross was called to assist one adult 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 $70,000.

The cause of the fire was unattended cooking and has been determined to be accidental.


Prince William rents billboard to encourage absentee voting, but it’s hard to see from the road


Elections officials have an important message they want to get out to voters.

Drivers, however, may have to squint, turn their heads away from the road, or look behind trees to see it.

A roadside billboard near the intersection of Routes 1 and 234 in Dumfries urges anyone who plans to commute outside of Prince William County on Election Day November 8 to vote absentee. Commuting to and from home for more than 11 hours between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day is one of nearly 20 allowable reasons Virginia voters may request to vote by absentee ballot.

Other absentee exceptions include students attending classes at a university outside their home district, those with disabilities, military, police, and fire and rescue personnel, and those with religious obligations on Election Day.


The view looking south on Route 1 toward Dumfries Town Hall and Quantico. Traffic closest to the camera is headed north.

The county’s Office of Elections spent $3,262 to rent the billboard that targets drivers on Route 1 south for about three months. The billboard sits at least 200 feet away from the roadway forcing to drivers to look to the east across the northbound lanes of Route 1 to see it and is located behind trees that make it nearly impossible to see for drivers sitting at the Route 1 / 234 intersection.

The Lamar Advertising Company owns the billboard, as well as others along Route 1 in Fredericksburg and Stafford. The billboard rented by the office of elections in Dumfries is the most northerly-located billboard that Lamar rents along Route 1 in Northern Virginia, according to a salesman in Lamar’s Richmond office.

Lamar’s billboards on Route 1 between Fredericksburg and Dumfries are rented at rates between $850 per month for standard billboards, and up to $2,000 a month “on the high side” for changing-display digital billboards, according to the Lamar salesman we spoke with.

Carryover monies from last year’s voter education fund were used to purchase the voter billboard. Prince William County General Registrar Michele White said she designed the advertisement that was posted on the billboard but did not have a say as to what billboard would be used to display the ad.

This is the only billboard purchased by the Office of Elections for this voter education effort. White said there were no other available billboards in the county during the timeframe she needed them, in the months of August, September, and October leading up to the Nov. 8, 2016 General Election, when she authorized the billboard purchase in May.

“If I could have done it my way, I would have had a few more billboards more strategically placed, but that was the one that was available in the timeframe that we needed it and it seems like it was the best option at the time,” explained White.


The view looking south on Route 1 toward Dumfries Town Hall and Quantico. Traffic closest to the camera is headed north.

Ballot questions

Absentee ballots may be requested by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections website and requesting a ballot by 5 p.m. Nov. 1, 2016. Absentee voters may also go to one of four absentee polling places that will open in Prince William County on Saturday, Oct. 22, and will be open each Saturday until Nov. 5, the last Saturday before Election Day.

During the Presidential Election of 2012, long lines formed at Potomac Middle School, where voters waited to cast their votes long after the 7 p.m. closings of the polls. Once in line, voters were still allowed to cast their votes.

Large crowds, a lack of machines, and long-worded constitutional ballot questions slowed down the voting process at many polling places that day.

While the county has purchased more, new voting machines, this year is shaping up to be more of the of the same when it comes to the ballot questions.

There are two this year: One, if approved, would place Virginia’s Right to Work law permanently into the state’s constitution, and the second, if approved, would stop localities from collecting Real Estate taxes from spouses whose partners who worked in law enforcement, fire and rescue, and search and rescue that were killed in the line of duty.

“We do wish the General Assembly would pass a bill that would pass a bill that would prevent having these long ballot questions in presidential election years because that really contributes to the problems. A lot of people get to the polls don’t realize the questions are on the ballot and have no idea of how to respond to them,” said White.

The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, for the November 8, General Election is Monday, October 17. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by appearing in-person is 5 p.m. Saturday, November 5.

David Brickley appointed to federal C&O Canal National Historical Park Commission


Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell has appointed David G. Brickley of Woodbridge, Virginia, and president of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, to a 5-year term as a member of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission is composed of 19 members and was established by Congress to advise the Secretary and the National Park Service on policies and matters relating to the administration and development of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Mr. Brickley’s appointment was a recommendation of Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

David Brickley noted: “I am honored by this appointment by Secretary of Interior Jewell and I thank Governor McAuliffe for his recommendation. The 184-mile C&O Canal Towpath along the Potomac River is one of the great historic and recreational jewels of America. We must insure that it continues to receive the support and care required for enjoyment by current and future generations.”

In addition to serving as the founding president of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance which is leading the effort for a 1,300-mile on-road and off-road trail connecting the three September 11, 2001 national memorials, Mr. Brickley is an attorney in Northern Virginia. He previously served from 1998 to 2001 as Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation which was awarded recognition as the “Best Managed State Park System in America” under his leadership. From 1967 to 1998 David Brickley was an elected member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He was best known for sponsoring legislation creating the Virginia Railway Express, Virginia’s commuter rail system; as well as chief sponsor of legislation enacting Virginia’s Child Health Insurance program, and authorization for elected school boards in the Commonwealth. Mr. Brickley’s prior military service included a tour in Vietnam where he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Hepatitis A case linked to Gainesville Tropical Smoothie Cafe


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.

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.

Hobby Lobby, Uptown Alley to open in Prince William County


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.


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