Prince William police and fire rescue now has a new 9-1-1 calling system in place.
The new system – called Premier One – which had a contracted cost of $16.4 million is being managed by Motorola.
According to a Motorola release, Prince William handles 400,000 emergency calls per year.
Current system was at ‘end of life’
“Prince William County has several systems that support safety…of those, we were at end of life for many if not all of them, and had to develop a plan to replace and upgrade those,” said Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Scott Boggs.
Boggs stated that the county went through a lengthy bidding process to find a new vendor for the county’s 9-1-1 calling system.
“That process included over 3,000 requirements that each vendor had to respond to, and we went through a fairly lengthy negotiation process. The outcome was that Motorola was contracted with Prince William County to replace the computer aided dispatch, law records management, fire records management, personnel and asset management, as well as a software solution to handle logistics and training and facilities,” said Boggs.
Next generation 9-1-1
There are two unique features of the new emergency response system – it’s connection to regional public safety systems, and it’s potential to incorporate ‘next generation 9-1-1’ which will allow for texts and other types of messages, instead of strictly voice emergency calls.
“Of that $600,000 was grant funding for inter-operability, and that is to connect our system to other systems that are connected in the national Capital region,” said Boggs.
“When you look at public safety, and answering 9-1-1 calls, next generation 9-1-1 is the big push now, with being able to take on not just voice calls, but texts and things like that. Because Premier One is a modern platform, it will give the county the ability to add those next generation abilities as they need to…it will help them grow in the future,” said Motorola Director of Product Management for Smart Public Safety Steve Mayes.
Improvements already seen for first responders
The new system went live at the end of June, and while they’re still working on getting dispatches fully comfortable with the software, Prince William police has already seen a big improvement in information given to their officers.
“Obviously it takes a little time to get used to new software for our staff, but I can tell you from a management perspective, I’ve been through many of these upgrades…and it’s a challenge for most us to do that normally. In this case we took a proactive approach and utilized things like Motorola training all of our dispatch staff and also making sure our training was time appropriately and we’re actually at the point now where we’re tweaking,” said Boggs.
Prince William sheriff’s lieutenant Patrick Aigner referenced the improvements when speaking about a recent robbery call.
“The information available to the individual officers on the street is critical for the public safety aspect, as well as the investigative aspect. We’ve already seen in just over a week so many examples of the enhanced functionalities. For instance – we had a robbery last week – in the eastern district, and the mapping feature, which allows the officer to see where their partners are in relation to the target address…allows us to use much better positioning for keeping the suspect potentially in that perimeter. We’ve already seen where that enhancement has helped our officers,” Aigner said.
When the U.S. Women’s National Team took home the 5-2 win over Japan last night, fans gathered in Woodbridge to cheer them on.
Especially fans of Ali Krieger, the 30-year-old defensive player from Dumfries. Hometown hero Krieger attended C.D. Hylton High School for one year and later graduated from Forest Park High School. She played for Prince William Soccer Incorporated (PWSI).
Fans gathered to watch the championship game at Glory Days Grill in Woodbridge. Mike Yeatts at PWSI sent these photos to Potomac Local.
The Dale City Neighborhood Library isn’t very large when compared to other regional libraries in Prince William County, like nearby Chinn Park, and Bull Run libraries.
But it is a busy one. On any given afternoon, finding a parking space here is a challenge, and that might give solace to those who defend libraries in the age of the internet.
This library recently won the attention of six planners from the American Institute of Architects Sustainable Design Assesment Team (SDAT for short) who visited Dale City last month. Among the many recommendations made by both the team and residents who attended a series of public meetings on redeveloping Dale City into a more friendly place to live, moving the library was one of them.
The Dale City Neighborhood Library sits in the heart of suburb it’s named after, in Center Plaza on Dale Boulevard at the intersection of Minnieville Road. It dates back about 30 years when many homes in Dale City were still under construction.
Now, the area’s population is getting older. Planners identified Center Plaza and nearby Mapledale Plaza as what could be the new twin downtowns for Dale City. Under the plan, the library would be relocated from Center to Mapledale, where it could join a new health spa, amphitheatre, and public space that would be added in what is now the parking lot of Mapledale Plaza that sits empty the majority of the time.
John Jenkins, who represents the Neabsco District portion of Dale City on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, says it’s an idea worth exploring. Marty Nohe represents the other half of Dale City, in the Coles District, and he said moving the library is dependent upon costs, and deciding whether or not the move would improve services provided to the public.
While it hasn’t been called a pipedream, moving the library won’t happen anytime soon. Two new libraries will open this year — one in Montclair and other in Gainesville. The land for the Montclair library was donated 30 years ago.
“People are planning things and telling you what they want, but we have to look at costs. Would it be a big library?… Would it be a regional library? If that were the case, you would have to do a bond referendum,” said Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who pushed for the construction of the Montclair library.
County officials in 2006 asked the voters by way of a referendum to borrow money to build the libraries. Voters said yes, and on Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. the new library will open to the public, said Caddigan. A similar grand opening is scheduled for a new library in Gainesville on Oct. 15, she added.
Read more in our “Remake Dale City” series:
Did it get foggy on Saturday night or what?
After Independence Day revelers enjoyed their fireworks shows, a thick cloud of haze rolled into our region.
Many at the Potomac Nationals game in Woodbridge posted photos to social media showing the eerie fog.
The low lying fog is here in Woodbridge, VA…We’re tied 2-2 in the 13th inning Wilmington and Potomac! pic.twitter.com/e5Cw3laXs2
— Potomac Nationals (@PNats42) July 5, 2015
When farm team for the Washington Nationals set off their fireworks after the game Saturday night, many stated they couldn’t see them because the fog was so dense.
Brian Lasorsa, of the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington office in Sterling, said they knew the fog was coming when forecasters updated thier short-term forecast about 7 p.m. Saturday. Lasorsa said smoke from fireworks could have played a role in why the fog was so dense.
After the fireworks shows ended, a breeze blew most of the smoke south of Washington, D.C., where many gather on the National Mall to watch one of the region’s largest firework shows. Fog at Ronald Regan National Airpot reduced visibility to about two to three miles, said Lasorsa.
On a clear day, it’s possible to see about 10 miles in any direction, he added.
The fog — and firework smoke – hung around due to inversion, said Lasorsa. That’s when air temperatures at the surface are cooler than they are aloft. So, instead of rising and blowing away, the smoke hung around.
It’s possible that smoke particles could have been a contributing factor of creating more fog across the region.
The fog cleared out of the area Sunday morning.
Discover the wine, beer and spirits trail right here in Prince William & Manassas. With a variety of beverage options there is sure to be something to satisfy everyone along this libation filled trail.
– Winery at La Grange – This scenic 22 acre farm vineyard is a relaxing and restful place to spend a sunny afternoon sipping wine. A fully renovated manor house dating back to 1790, is now used as the main Tasting Room. It sits at an elevation of about 600 feet, right at the base of the Bull Run Mountain foothills.
– Winery at Bull Run – A working farm vineyard in an authentic 1860’s setting. The winery adjoins over 5,000 countryside acres of the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park offering a glimpse of Virginia’s rich heritage along with fine Virginia wines.
– Bad Wolf Brewing Company – The first micro-brewery to open in Manassas that specializes in exquisite craft beers that are ever changing.
– Heritage Brewing Company – A uniquely American Brewery, owned and operated by veterans. 1% of all proceeds are donated to philanthropic efforts that give back to their country & community all while making 100% American microbrews.
– Tin Cannon Brewery – The first nanobrewery in Prince William & Manassas, located in Gainesville is serving up some new and innovative brews that push the limits. From bacon to chipotle peppers you never know what flavors they will come up with next.
As if these wineries and breweries were not enough to quench your thirst, there are several more spirited businesses that are scheduled to open a little later this year.
– K&O Distillary – A brand new distillery creating a product line of craft distilled beverages at the 12-thousand square foot facility. KO Distilling plans on opening an area for tours, taste-testing, special events, and product sales in the very near future.
– MurLarkey Distilled Spirits – MurLarkey Distilled Spirits, located in Bristow, Virginia is a Small Batch Craft-distillery, specializing in Whiskey. Using 100% organic grains, all natural ingredients and botanicals ensures the production of premium spirits.
– Ornery Beer Company & Public House – The very 1st Brew Pub in Prince William County you will be able to find not only delicious and unique craft beers here, but also a meticulously prepared food menu that compliments the beers served.
For more information about where to eat, drink and shop visit Discoverpwm.com
Prince William police officer Justin Bonner won a gold medal this week at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games.
The 28-year old officer joined Prince William police in 2006, and became an officer in 2008. He has been with the motor unit for two years.
Bonner won in the novice cone courses for precision and time, and his gold medal for Overall Novice.
According to Bonner, his interest riding on the police motorcycles came when he was still a cadet.
“As a cadet, I got the opportunity to work with our traffic unit and I found it was something I really enjoyed doing. I like to try and promote traffic safety, and you get to do some honorable events – escorts for VIPs, funerals and different things like that,” said Bonner.
All officers in the motor unit have the option to compete in yearly motorcycle skills competitions. This year, the competition was combined with the World Police and Fire Games.
Bonner said that in order to prepare for competitions, there is a lot of training work that goes in.
“We do a two week basic motor school to qualify to ride the motorcycle at work – and we also do training once a month to practice our skills and maintain proficiency on the motorcycle. Besides that, we are allowed to go up to the track at our police academy and practice occasionally,” said Bonner.
In the World Police and Fire Games there are several motorcycle competitions including, precision, speed, slow ride, partner ride, team slow ride and challenge ride competitions.
“I felt good going in – we had some great instructors here in Prince William that helped us out a bunch – training for this and day to day operations. I’m very honored to represent the department and to end up winning – it was great training. That’s really why we do it. You end up rooting for all of the competitors who are out there, and you learn a lot from just being out there,” Bonner commented.
Bonner stated that he will continue to compete in the years ahead.
A Woodbridge man was killed during a shooting in Alexandria last night.
Alexandria police were called to N. Fayette Street in Alexandria to investigate.
According to Alexandria police, the victim – 22-year old Shakkan Elliot-Tibbs – was found by officers, suffering from a gunshot.
Elliot-Tibbs was transported to a hospital where he later died of his injuries, said Alexandria police.
The investigation is still ongoing.
This is the first homicide in Alexandria this year, said Alexandria police.
You won’t be able to watch the Dale City Fourth of July Parade live on TV tomorrow.
For the first time in at least 20 years, Comcast will not telecast Virginia’s largest Independence Day parade live on its cable system in Prince William County.
Viewers will be able to watch the parade online.
Here’s the latest from parade organizers:
Through the efforts of Monte Cansler of Frame Magic Video, the 2015 Dale City Parade will be streamed live.
Compton & Duling, LC Attorneys at Law are sponsoring the live feed. Please go to tinyurl.com/Dale-City-Parade-2015
Frame Magic Video Productions is a full-service production company with over 15 years of experience.
They specialize in motion graphics, social media videos, commercials, promotional, training videos, music videos and cinematic weddings.
Compton and Duling, LC Attorneys at Law, Community-Driven for the past 40 years. For more than 40 years, the experienced attorneys of Compton & Duling have provided cost-effective legal services to individuals, businesses and organizations with Northern Virginia.
Longtime parade organizer Ernestine Jenkins said she hopes the video of the parade will be shown later on Comcast.
Comcast did not return a request for comment on this story.
The parade takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Dale Boulevard, from Kirkdale Drive to the a commuter lot on Gemini Way.
A memorial vigil will be held at 8 p.m. tonight at the Reston Town Center in honor of Silva.
A vigil is being held tonight for Brazilian officer Carlos Silva, details below; http://t.co/KWdIa1jAQN
— PWCPoliceDept (@PWCPoliceDept) July 3, 2015
A competitor in the 2015 World Police and Fire Games has passed away, following a bicycle accident.
The deceased – 48-year old Brazilian Carlos Silva – was one of three seriously injured officers the accident, which took place during one of the Game’s events at Prince William Forest park in Triangle.
Silva died at the hospital due to his injuries at 5 p.m. yesterday, stated Prince William police.
Prince William police’s Crash Investigation Unit was called to the scene of the incident to investigate yesterday afternoon.
What happened at Prince William Forest Park
According to Prince William police, the accident happened when several cyclists were traveling downhill and one of the bicyclists had a front tire blowout. The blowout and crash caused a collision with several other bicyclists in the area.
The accident happened on a closed cycling course near Turkey Run Road, on Scenic Drive.
Potomac Local went to the scene of the crash and saw that the collision took place as cyclists were coming around a curve, where the road turns into a hill.
Several bicyclists were injured during the crash, but only the three were taken to area hospitals for their serious injuries, said Prince William police. Several members of Prince William fire and rescue and Fairfax police were at the event and were able to immediately assist injured cyclists.
An unidentified 44-year old man and 43-year old man were the other two individuals taken to area hospitals for treatment.
The bicyclists involved in the crash were all wearing safety equipment, said Prince William police.
People express sadness, condolences over the death
Several law enforcement officers and elected officials expressed their condolences for Silva’s passing.
“On behalf of the Prince William County Police Department, I want to express my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased athlete, Carlos Silva. Our thoughts and prayers are with the other injured athletes, fellow team mates, and the public safety family throughout the world,” said acting Prince William County Police Chief, Major Steve Thompson.
In a joint statement, Fairfax chairman Sharon Bulova, Fairfax police chief Ed Roessler, Fairfax fire chief Richard Bowers, Fairfax sheriff Stacey Kincaid, World Police and Fire Games president Michael Graham and others expressed their condolences.
“We are deeply saddened that an athlete participating in the World Police & Fire Games passed away today at the cycling event in Prince William County. Two other athletes are severely injured. Please join us as we keep these athletes, their families and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this tragic and challenging time,” said an issued statement from the group.
Potomac Local has reached out to officials from the World Police and Fire Games on how Silva’s passing has impacted the games, the mood of the Game’s athletes and what they will do to honor him, but they have not returned request for comment.
For those planning to head out of the area for the Fourth of July weekend – prepare for some heavy traffic.
Currently Interstate 95 going southbound in North Stafford was already seeing congestion at 9 a.m. this morning.
Additionally, there will be some lane changes for those traveling on the I-95 Express Lanes this weekend.
More on the changes from Transurban:
Friday, July 3: No changes to reversal time. The reversal from northbound (NB) to southbound (SB) will begin around 11 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 1 p.m.
Saturday, July 4:
Reversal from SB to NB will begin at midnight with the NB lanes open around 2 a.m.
Reversal from NB to SB will begin around 7 p.m. with the SB lanes open around 9 p.m.
Sunday, July 5: Reversal from SB to NB will at midnight with the NB lanes open around 2 a.m.
Monday, July 6: No changes to reversal time. The reversal from NB to SB will begin around 11 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 1 p.m.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is offering their SoberRide program from 10 p.m. on July 4 to 4 a.m. on July 5.
According to a WRAP release, individuals can receive a free cab ride home, up to a $30 fare.
In order to utilize the program, riders must be 21 years and older.
More on July 4’s SoberRide program:
Important note: All requests for SoberRide service must be called to and dispatched from 1-800-200-8294. Do not call a taxi company directly for SoberRide service as the ride will not be covered under this program.
General SoberRide Information
WRAP’s SoberRide , called one of the nation’s most successful free cab ride programs for would-be impaired drivers, has helped to ensure greater Washington, DC residents have a safe way home on high-risk holidays. Since 1993, WRAP has provided over 62,536 safe rides home. Currently, SoberRide operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, CInco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween.
WRAP’s SoberRide provides a free cab ride home up to a $30 fare.
Callers are financially responsible for anything over $30.
You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service. All calls must originate in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland; the Cities of Rockville, Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt and Takoma Park in Maryland; the District of Columbia; Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Eastern Loudoun Counties in Virginia; and the Cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.
You cannot reserve a SoberRide or schedule a pickup in advance. To receive a ride, you must call 1-800-200-8294 (TAXI) during the program hours. A SoberRide call operator will direct your request to the correct participating cab company.
Participating Taxi Companies:
Alexandria Yellow Cab (Alexandria)
Barwood, Inc. (Montgomery County)
Fairfax Yellow Cab (Fairfax County)
Loudoun Yellow Cab (Eastern Loudoun County)
Northern Virginia Checker (Prince William County)
Red Top Cab Company (Arlington County)
Silver Cab of Prince George’s County (Prince George’s County)
Yellow Cab of District of Columbia (District of Columbia)
Yellow Cab of Prince William County (Prince William County)
When waiting for a SoberRide, please watch for a cab from the participating taxi company in the area from which you are calling.
Several officers were severely injured at a cycling event for the 2015 World Police and Fire Games.
Prince William police’s Crash Investigation Unit are on the scene of the incident at Prince William Forest Park.
Today at Prince William Forest Park, there were two cycling events for the games – the road race and time trials, according to the World Police and Fire Games website.
According to Prince William police, several bike riders collided into one another when participating in the games.
Three of the officers received serious injuries and were transported to area hospitals for treatment, according to Prince William police.
Investigation into the cause of the accident is still ongoing.
Starting today, there are some new rules of the road in Virginia.
During their last session, the Virginia General Assembly made amendments to state codes that are meant to increase safety measures for bicycles, postal vehicles, and garbage trucks, among others.
One change is that any vehicle that provides roadside assistance or traffic management aide is now qualified for the “Move Over” law in Virginia, because the vehicle may have blinking or flashing warning lights. The “Move Over law mandates that drivers change lanes to allow certain vehicles, including law enforcement, room on the road to provide assistance.
Another measure is meant to keep postal workers safe. A new regulation passed in the House now requires drivers passing a mail vehicle that has blinking or amber lights on to use caution and a safe speed.
A similar regulation now requires that those passing garbage trucks on roadways that have less than four lanes have to decrease their speed to 10 miles per hour lower than the speed limit. Additionally, drivers must leave two feet of room between where they pass and the left of a vehicle.
An interesting regulation passed this legislative session protects individuals on bicycles and mopeds, as vehicles can now be cited for following too closely.
For those that have been convicted in a federal court for a DUI offense that is similar to one within Virginia law, now has the ability to petition the court in their jurisdiction for restricted driving privileges, which is found in other states. The driving privileges, according to the text of the passed bill, would be restricted to areas including their workplace and church.
Prior to this change, only individuals convicted in a Virginia court of a DUI offense could petition the court.
A PNC bank location inside of a Giant Foods on Hedges Run Drive in Lake Ridge was robbed.
According to Prince William police, the individual entered the bank area, showed a handgun and demanded money.
The individual fled the scene with money and was last seen running towards the rear of the Giant.
No one was injured.
The suspect is described as a male with a light complexion, between 20 and 30 and under 5’7”. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket with gray sleeves, black on the shoulders and a black hood, with blue jeans and gray sneakers.
Prince William police are still currently on the scene investigating.
A helicopter is being used to search the area, and police vehicles are posted around the neighborhood to watch for the suspect.
PNC bank employees that witnessed the robbery declined to comment on the incident.
The store is currently open for customers.
On the morning of June 29, Prince William police responded to a call for child neglect that took place at the A.J. Ferlazzo building in Woodbridge.
According to Prince William police, the caller stated that they met with 29-year old Woodbridge woman Shaquann Wilson in front of the building for a child custody exchange.
When the caller attempted to secure the 6-year old child in the backseat of Wilson’s car, Wilson drove away, said Prince William police.
Both the caller and a witness stated that the child was not secured in the seat and Wilson’s vehicle door was open when she pulled away, stated Prince William police.
Wilson turned herself into the police after officers made contact with her.
No one was injured.
Wilson is being charged with felony child neglect and reckless driving and is being held on a $2,000 bond.
Wondering where you can celebrate July 4 and see the fireworks in your area? Potomac Local has a list of July 4 events you can check out.
In Prince William County there are several events you can attend to celebrate July 4, including the Dale City Parade on Dale Boulevard at 10 a.m.
More on July 4 events in Prince William:
Dale City Parade (July 4th 10 a.m. on Dale Blvd)
Leesylvania State Park Kid’s Fishing Tournament (9:00 a.m.)
Freedom Firecracker 5k Run & 1 Mile Fun Run (Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center 8:30 a.m.)
Pfitzner Stadium P-Nats Ball Game followed by fireworks show
Montclair Dolphin Beach fireworks display (You must be an MPOA member to be on the beach. However, you do not have to be an MPOA member to take advantage of a side-street view.)
On July 4, the City of Manassas will be hosting their Celebrate America event from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Downtown Manassas.
More on the excitement from the City of Manassas:
The celebration begins with the Bicycle Decorating contest. At 5 p.m. visitors are invited to take part in a Watermelon-eating contest.
Next, Judges from around the City will lend their culinary expertise to judge the Apple and Peach Pie Baking Contest. This is Americana at its best. To sign up for these contests, visit visitmanassas.org.
Visitors can bring a blanket or a lawn chair to lay claim to a spot for viewing the best fireworks in Virginia. Beginning at 3 p.m., there will be children’s rides, food vendors, and other vendors. The celebration centers around the Harris Pavilion, the Manassas Museum and the Train Depot.
The City of Manassas loves pets, but pets do not love loud noises. Their ears are more sensitive and the City asks that pets be left at home in the air conditioning. This time of year, streets and sidewalks are hot enough to burn puppy paws.
Fourth of July celebrations in Manassas Park include a fireworks display at Signal Hill Park, starting at 6:30 p.m.
More information on the fireworks display:
The City of Manassas Park invites you to join us Saturday, July 4th for a display you won’t want to miss.
Fireworks Display at Dark
Free shuttles from VRE & City Hall Starting at 6:30pm
$5 Parking Available at 5pm – On-Site Parking: Handicap Only
Limited General Parking Across Street
PLUS! We will be having food trucks featuring: Bella Vita, Guapos, Bauji’s Kitchen, and Snowie!
No fireworks allowed in park (this includes sparklers)
Expect traffic delays from 8pm-11pm in the areas of Signal View Drive/Signal Hill Drive, Manassas Drive/Signal View Drive, Manassas Drive and Centreville Road.
Stafford and Fredericksburg will also be celebrating that day with their Heritage Festival and fun run event.
More on the July 4 events from Stafford:
Fredericksburg’s July 4th Heritage Festival
7:45 a.m.: Heritage Festival Five-Mile Run Sponsored by Fredericksburg Host Lions Club
6:30 a.m.: Registration at Visitor’s Center
9:30 a.m.: Heritage Day Parade Sponsored by Children’s Museum of Richmond/Fredericksburg
Downtown: Lafayette to Caroline to Princess Anne to Lafayette Prizes for Best Costume & Most Creative Bicycle
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Festival of the Streets Craft Show with more than 100 vendors Sponsored by Beth Sholom Temple, Classic Car Display Sponsored by Stafford Car Club & Rosner Motor Sports, Dunk your Favorite Local Celebrity Sponsored by Rappahannock Rotary
Children’s Activities: Face Painting, Balloon Creations, Moon Bounce & Photo Booth with free pictures
Live Music: Wil Gravatt – Gravatt Entertainment, Steve Jarrell & Sons of the Beach
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Ferry Farm’s Let Freedom Ring Sponsored by George Washington Foundation $1.00 admission Catch a bus or trolley from downtown or from the Eagle’s Lodge on Cool Springs Road. Ferry Farm parking will be handicapped only. Patriotic, Family Activities, Re-Enactors
1:00 p.m.: Flag Retirement Ceremony with Anthony Campbell
12:00 p.m.: Presentation of Colors — American Legion Post 290 Welcome — Matt Kelly – Councilman at Large
4:30 p.m.: Pratt Park Opens for the July 4th Spectacular Bring lawn chairs & picnic dinners Food Vendors available
6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.: Quantico Marine Corps Rock and Roll Band
7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Special Appearance by the cast of: The Wedding Singer from Riverside Center Theater
8:00 p.m. – through the Fireworks: Quantico Marine Corps Band
9:15 p.m.: Fireworks Sponsored by City of Fredericksburg & Stafford County
View fireworks from Pratt Park or Old Mill Park. No alchoholic beverages. No sparklers. No grills. Dogs must be on leashes.
The Prince William County Police Department was honored with several medals at the World Police and Fire Games.
According to Prince William police, the department’s motor team competed in a four day competition at the games.
Officers Steve Bennett, Justin Bonner, Joe Kushner, Rob Minnick and John Mora won a silver medal.
Additionally, Officer Bonner won two gold medals – one for the Cone Courses Novice Division and one for the Todd Ricks Award for Overall Top Novice – said Prince William police.
Western Prince William is getting an $11 million library.
The Haymarket/Gainesville Community library – which will be located at the intersection of Route 15 and Lightnet Road – is under construction and will be completed in October 2015, according to Andrew Spence, a spokesman for the Prince William library system.
The location will be 20,000 square feet and will offer their normal range of services, including checkout materials and children’s programming, as well as electronic services.
“In addition to the system’s traditional services, the Haymarket/Gainesville Community Library will provide access to our digital resources (databases, electronic books and magazines, and more), web-based library services (digital catalog), self-checkout, public Internet access, community/room space and wireless public Internet access,” said Spence.
According to Spence, the $11 million in funding for the library came from various sources, including debt financing and proffers.
“A 2006 bond referendum, approved by voters, provides $9,940,000 debt financing for the new Haymarket/Gainesville Community Library. Additionally, Prince William County Government’s General Fund provides $50,000 and developer contributions (proffers) provide $1,823,405 for the new library,” stated Spence.
This library is the second ongoing library project in Prince William, as the Montclair Community Library will also be completed this fall. Spence stated that the library is being built to meet the growing need for the services in the western end of the county.
“The library system recognizes that the Haymarket/Gainesville area has grown over the last decade creating an opportunity to provide this community with increased library services such as literacy materials, community space, reference assistance and civic engagement,” said Spence.
Similar to the new Montclair library, the Haymarket/Gainesville library will have a historic property on the site for visitors to see, called the “Bushy Park House”.
“[The house] is a 200 year-old Gainesville farmhouse planned to become a history interpretive center for our visitors,” said Spence.
On the morning of June 29, Prince William police responded to a call for a robbery on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.
According to Prince William police, the victim – a 35-year old Woodbridge man – was robbed by two known acquaintances.
During the incident, the male suspect – 18-year old Ethan Brommer – showed a handgun and the female suspect – 26-year old Felisha Tucker – threatened the victim with mace, said Prince William police.
The individuals took an electronic tablet from the victim, before the victim fled and called Prince William police.
Prince William police located the individuals in a wooded area near the scene of the incident. Officers determined the handgun was actually a BB gun.
No one was injured.
Brommer and Tucker have both been charged with robbery.
Housing can be expensive.
And for those that are economically challenged, the cost of housing in the Northern Virginia region can be a major hurdle that impacts their lives.
According to a Prince William rental market comparison, a one bedroom apartment runs $961, a two bedroom runs $1582 and a three bedroom runs $1,801 per month.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the average wage for individuals in Prince William is $832 per week – $3328 per month. This is lower than the national average according to the BLS, which is $1027 per week – $4108 per month.
So for individuals paying for housing in Prince William, many pay 28% to 54% of their monthly income, depending on the size of the space, utilities and fees added to the initial housing cost.
According to Andrea Eck, a housing specialist for Northern Virginia Family Services, those that pay more than 30% of their income towards housing are ‘precariously housed’.
“I bet if you took a look at your housing costs, it would probably be more than 30%, and that’s because it’s expensive to live here…We serve a low income population – typically people that are 30, 50 or 80% or below area median income. And based on the family’s income, their rent does not exceed 30% of their income, because we know that anybody who pays more than 30% of their income on housing is precariously housed,” said Eck.
While there are residents that are able to afford the housing costs in the county, there are some that cannot.
A 2015 report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments stated that there are 409 homeless individuals in the county – 136 of which are children. These are the individuals that populate the area’s tent cities and homeless shelters.
What programs are available in the county?
The homeless are not the only individuals in need of access to affordable housing.
Bill Lake, the director of Prince William’s Office of Housing and Community Development, works with residents in need providing rental assistance, also known as Section 8 housing.
“We help low income families with their rental obligations, to help them find affordable, decent, safe and sanitary homes. Our families receive a voucher – they go out and find housing. The housing is inspected to meet certain housing quality standards…they negotiate with the landlord what the rent would be, and we have to do something called ‘rent comparables’ where we have to make sure that the rent is being charged is [appropriate] for the area,” said Lake.
While the housing vouchers are assisting with the need for affordable housing in Prince William County, there is a gap between need and what is available.
“We have a waiting list of over 8,000 families, and we’re serving now about 1,900,” said Lake.
“Vouchers are limited, and the wait list is not open,” Eck commented.
Additionally, the Office of Housing and Community Development puts forward $55,000 per year towards assisting homeless individuals in finding housing.
Alongside the Office of Housing and Community Development, NVFS does have housing services, including their 92-bed SERVE shelter in Manassas, and their takeover in operations of the Hilda Barg shelter in Woodbridge, according to Eck.
NVFS also owns properties where residents can pay a reduced rate, but this is limited as well, said Eck.
What can be done to provide more affordable housing options?
According to Eck, there are several things that can be done in the county to ensure residents have access to affordable housing.
“On the housing side specifically, I think Prince William County has made some great strides by shifting to a rapid re-housing philosophy in our home shelters…and something critical to that process is a housing locator…the reason why housing locators are so important is that they build that network of property managers and private landlords that are willing to work with us and the barriers our clients face,” said Eck.
Eck stated that the board of supervisors has supported affordable housing initiatives by contributing to area non-profits like NVFS.
“Our local county board of supervisors is very supportive of the non-profit community that is working to address this issue, so there are contributions made to non-profit partners doing this work…I think their continued support of the work that is being done…is obviously very critical,” said Eck.
Creating job opportunities and maintaining access to public transportation are critical pieces of alleviating the problem.
“I also think that availability housing in and of itself isn’t the only issue. We also know that jobs help to create stable communities, when folks are working, earning a living wage. So ongoing efforts to build a robust job training [program] and supportive services that go along with it [are important]…Ongoing support of our public transportation system is pretty important as well because, the folks that we work with really rely on public transportation to be able to get to those jobs and those job training programs,” said Eck.
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has a plan that includes adding train lines, stations, and even reverse commute capabilities.
While mass transit is one of the major methods that many area residents use to get to work in the area, there is still a lot of congestion that VRE is trying to combat, according to Director of Public Affairs Bryan Jungwirth.
In order to handle congestion and provide more service to riders, VRE has created a System 2040 plan with service improvements and additions up through the year 2040.
One big component of the plan is reverse commuting, which would alleviate some congestion on the roads for commuters coming in to Prince William and Manassas for work.
Currently there are only three trains that are classified as a reverse commute, according to Jungwirth – one from Union Station in Washington, D.C. at 6:25 a.m. to Broad Run, an additional Union Station to Broad Run in the afternoon and a Broad Run to Union Station train in the afternoon.
“We’ve got some trains that actually can be characterized as a reverse commute, and they’re on the Manassas line,” said Jungwirth.
In the immediate future, VRE will be adding more cars to existing trains.
“The best things we’re definitely going to do – max by 2017 – are adding more cars onto more trains and make the trains longer, which will increase capacity. And that will help with the whole [Route] 66 construction issue,” Jungwirth commented.
There are several station expansions and new platforms on the agenda from VRE, with a Fredericksburg train line being added this summer and Gainesville-Haymarket extension coming, said Jungwirth.
Also coming up in the next few years, are VRE’s plans to add two more tracks and potentially adding a line that goes from Manassas to Alexandria.
“[System 2040] tries to address all of this different elements, because we’re going to need two more tracks going across the Potomac [River] – so either a new bridge or the extension to the existing long bridge. And then we need more train storage up in the [Washington] D.C. area, and we’re looking to expanding where we store our trains. Parking lot expansions – we’re looking at those as well…We could potentially get additional capacity on the Manassas line…we’ve thought about ways we could run more service on the Manassas line and doing what we call a fish-hook kind of service to Alexandria, but it would take a lot of construction to make it even feasible,” said Jungwirth.
Reverse commuting capabilities should start to become a bigger focus towards the end of the System 2040 plan, said Jungwirth.
“I won’t say that reverse commutes aren’t on our list of things to do, because it is in the System 2040 plan, but it’s the latter part of the plan, so we’re talking out to 2030, 2040…all of these other infrastructure improvements would need to occur before that were to happen,” said Jungwirth.