43°

Light Rain Fog/Mist

Wed Thu Fri
It is forcast to be Rain at 7:00 PM EST on March 04, 2015
Rain
46°/31°
It is forcast to be Snow at 7:00 PM EST on March 05, 2015
Snow
32°/7°
It is forcast to be Clear at 7:00 PM EST on March 06, 2015
Clear
30°/9°

Prince William

Closings and delays for Mar. 4, 2015

Check back for the latest in closings and delays from Potomac Local.

 

Bumper sticker blues for Dumfries Democrat Derrick Wood?

wood

Derrick Wood is running to unseat longtime Prince William County Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan.

Wood is a Dumfries Town Councilman, and the Council spent some time Tuesday night discussing a campaign sticker affixed to the top of Wood’s laptop computer. Wood used the laptop during the televised Feb. 17 meeting of the Council, and that sticker was clearly visible to the cameras.

While a Dumfries Town Council meeting doesn’t bring in the same kind of TV ratings as, say, American Idol, there were some questions about the appropriateness of the campaign sticker that was displayed at the public meeting.

“Council should be reminded not to use the town meetings and council resources to advance a political agenda… I asked Councilman Wood how he would like to proceed… to give me a call to talk about it…” said Mayor Jerry Foreman.

Following the Feb. 17 meeting, Foreman sent an email to Wood, which he read a portion of Tuesday, referencing the bumper sticker and demanding a phone call to talk about it.

That call never came.

“I did not respond to you due to the tone of your email saying you ‘expected’ a phone call from me, knowing the phone works both ways,” Wood responded.

Vice-Mayor Willie Toney agreed with the mayor and urged the Council move on to other matters.

“When you put out the email you, you were spot on. I don’t think this is the appropriate time to discuss something that is to appease you,” said Toney.

That was followed by several outbursts from Councilwoman Helen Reynolds demanding the Mayor to “stop talking” and move on to other issues.

Foreman  once again called for the adoption of a code of conduct for Town Council members. Dumfries Town Attorney Oluan Simmons on Wednesday confirmed there is no such document on file that governs the conduct of elected officials in the town.

Councilwoman Gwen Washington urged the council to take up the matter again away from TV cameras during a closed session.

“I don’t see this is a closed session discussion,” said Councilman Cliff Brewer. “We need to have some kind of rules in place so this doesn’t happen again by anyone, whether it be this council or a future council.”

Before Wood can run against Caddigan, he must first win an Primary Election facing fellow Democrat Andrea Bailey, who currently holds no public office.

Nokesville man arrested in Woodbridge for indecent exposure

Yesterday afternoon, Prince William County police officers responded to a call in Woodbridge in relation to an indecent exposure.

According to call made to police, the suspect, Paul Arthur Cocca, was sitting outside of a hair salon, exposing himself to employees. 

Cocca fled the scene prior to the officers’ arrival, but police located his vehicle near Minnieville Road and Summit School Road and made an arrest. 

He is currently being held without bond.

More from a Prince William County Police Department release:

Indecent Exposure – On March 3rd at 1:28PM, officers responded to the 12700 block of Darby Brooke Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate an indecent exposure. The caller reported to police that an unknown man was sitting on a sidewalk, outside of a hair salon, exposing himself to employees through a window. The caller contacted police and the man fled the area prior to police arriving at the business. Witnesses were able to provide officers with a description of the vehicle that the suspect was last seen driving. Officers located and stopped a vehicle matching the description in the area of Minnieville Rd and Summit School Rd. Through the investigation, officers positively identified the driver as the accused and further determined that he was the man involved in the incident. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested. 

Arrested on March 3rd:

Paul Arthur COCCA, 64, of 13504 Highland Farms Ct in Nokesville

Charged with indecent exposure

Court date: April 23, 2015 | Bond: held WITHOUT bond

4 to 8 inches expected, snow heaviest Thursday morning

8:53 p.m.

The National Weather Service has released a Dense Fog Advisory, in effect until 10 p.m. tonight.

7:07 p.m.

Wondering if you have work or school tomorrow? Take a look at our closings page.

4:18 p.m.

The City of Manassas has declared a snow emergency, effective starting 8 a.m. tomorrow.

More from a city release:

On March 4, 2015, the City of Manassas is declaring a Snow Emergency effective at 8 a.m. on March 5, 2015 due to the impending snow event. This means that cars parked along designated snow emergency routes are subject to towing and fines.

Snow emergency routes in the City of Manassas are as follows:  Dumfries Road/Route 234, Hastings Drive, Godwin Drive, Liberia Avenue, Richmond Avenue, Fairview Avenue, Grant Avenue, Wellington Road, Ashton Avenue, Cockrell Road, Nokesville Road/Route 28, Center Street, Prescott Avenue, Sudley Road/Route 234, Church Street, Zebedee Street, Centreville Road/Route 28, Mathis Avenue, Portner Avenue and Euclid Avenue.

Once the snow event is over, the City will issue a termination of the snow emergency and will reopen these streets to parking.

1:41 p.m.

The Service Authority is asking residents to help keep fire hydrants free of snow during the storm, in case of incidents where fire and rescue need access.

winter warning1:30p.m.

Expect more snow – and lots of it.

The National Weather Service has issues a Winter Storm Warning, in effect from midnight to 9p.m. on Thursday.

There is a wintry mix expected, with between 4 to 8 inches of snow accumulation and additional ice accumulation.

The snow is expected to be heaviest during late Thursday morning, and continue on through Thursday afternoon.

If you’re still planning to commute into work on Thursday morning, VDOT is urging caution, and has also issued a release about difficulties traveling during the storm. 

Potomac Local will keep you updated on the latest in closings, delays and outages.

More from a National Weather Service alert:

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT

TO 9 PM EST THURSDAY… 

* PRECIPITATION TYPES…WINTRY MIX…THEN ALL SNOW…HEAVY AT

TIMES. 

* ACCUMULATIONS…SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 4 TO 8 INCHES…ALONG

WITH AROUND A TRACE OF ICE.

* TIMING…RAIN CHANGES TO WINTRY MIX AROUND MIDNIGHT THEN ALL

SNOW THURSDAY. SNOW HEAVIEST THURSDAY LATE MORNING INTO THE

AFTERNOON. 

* TEMPERATURES…IN THE UPPER 20S.

* WINDS…NORTH 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH.

* IMPACTS…ROADS WILL BE SNOW COVERED…VISIBILITIES WILL DROP

TO AROUND A QUARTER-MILE AT TIMES…MAKING TRAVEL DANGEROUS. 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER

CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW

ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS. ONLY TRAVEL IN AN

EMERGENCY. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL…KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT…

FOOD…AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY. 

Keep Reading…

Multiple arrests made in Manassas following gang investigation

A coalition of law enforcement agencies, including the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, City of Manassas Park Police, Virginia State Police, Fairfax County Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were able to make several arrests on February 25, following a gang activity investigation.

The arrests were made in relation to a case involving gang recruitment for a gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

Two search warrants were executed in Reston on a suspect’s vehicle. This search provided evidence that led to the arrest of four suspects. Additionally, there has been a total of 43 warrants issued, and more charges are currently pending.

The coalition of law enforcement agencies had been working together for almost three months on the investigation. The investigation followed the assault of a 15-year old girl in Manassas by the MS-13 gang as part of a gang initiation ritual back in November.

Two individuals were taken into custody on February 25 – Jose Angel Iraheta Palacios, and Carlos Albert Hernandez-Garcia.

More from Manassas City Police Department crime report: 

Arrested on February 25, 2015:

1) IRAHETA PALACIOS, Jose Angel (AKA: “Little Crazy”), 30

Address: 11910 Winterthur Ln, Reston, VA 20191

Charged with: human trafficking; gang participation (9 counts); gang recruitment (2 counts); conspiracy to cause a juvenile to assist in the distribution of marijuana (3 counts); conspiracy to distribute marijuana; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; aiding illicit sexual intercourse; use of a vehicle to promote unlawful sexual intercourse; threaten force to encourage gang participation; and obstruction of justice

IRAHETA PALACIOS, Jose Angel (30)

2) HERNANDEZ-GARCIA, Carlos Albert (AKA: “Momia” and “Albert”), 20

Address: None fixed

Charged with: human trafficking; gang participation (6 counts); gang recruitment (2 counts); conspiracy to distribute marijuana; conspiracy to cause a juvenile to assist in the distribution of marijuana; and contributing to the delinquency of a minor

 

 

 

Prince William property tax bills to increase by $139 under advertised tax rate, county jobs still on chopping block

022514-mccoart

Prince William leaders set an advertised tax rate Tuesday night.

It’s lower than the 4% increase agreed upon last year in the county’s five-year budget plan, but it’s higher than an earlier 1.3% rate increase that would have meant multiple cuts in county services, and pay freezes for county employees.

The Board of Supervisors set the advertised property tax rate at $1.122 per $100 of assessed value (property taxes are the main source of revenue for county governments in Virginia). That’s a 3.88% increase over last year’s tax rate. The rate would generate an average tax bill of $3,722 per household, an increase of $139 per year, $12 more per month than last year.

Since the county government gives about 57% of its total budget to the schools, the $1.122 rate will mean $8.4 million than what the school division expected to receive under the 1.3% increase batted about when budget talks began in earnest last month. The school division would is still short about $8 million of what it needs to fully funded, according to officials.

For about $40 more per household, the schools would have been fully funded if the county adopted a tax rate of $1.135, raising the average property tax bill by 5.11%, according to officials.

Since the Board of Supervisors set the advertised tax rate at $1.122, they cannot go higher at budget adoption time April 21. The option to fully fund the schools is now off the table.

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland  proposed the 1.3% increase, which would have set a property tax rate of of $1.094 per $100 of assessed value. It would have capped the growth of the average tax bill at $47. That proposal would have also meant slashing community services, supplemental funding for Magistrates at the county’s courthouse, funding for libraries, funding for criminal gang education and awareness efforts, as well as cuts in funded healthcare services.

As of Feb. 21, funding to many of these programs was restored by the Board of Supervisors, with the exception of a portion of funding to the county’s capital park bond projects, a program for juvenile drug offenders, $175,000 in funding to Healthy Families prevention program, and $319,000 in funding for the county’s in-house print shop.

Discover Prince William / Manassas, the agency that promotes tourism in the county and Greater Manassas areas, could also see $92,000 of its funding shifted into the county’s Historic Preservation department.  Keep Reading…

Election-year town hall draws out officials, candidates, community

A community Town Hall meeting hosted by Delegate Luke Torian the Ferlazzo Building  in Woodbridge Monday night was an opportunity for elected officials and political candidates to voice their views. It was also a chance for residents in Prince William County to communicate with law enforcement officials.

During the meeting, Torian, Supervisor John Jenkins, and Supervisor Maureen Caddigan spoke about community issues that they felt passionate about, as well as how to properly communicate with law enforcement as a community.

“We have a very compassionate, and a very caring community,” Caddigan said.

Among the primary topics discussed were the continuing conversation on homelessness, transportation, and school funding.

“I want to fight for continuous road improvements. Those pot-holes that you see out there [on the road] right now are not the norm,” Jenkins said.

Karl Brower, the Prince William County NAACP chapter president, and Maria Burgos-Singleton, a representative from Prince William County Public Schools also spoke about their respective causes and called for community action and acceptance of the county’s diversity.

The Prince William County Sheriff Glen Hill, a representative of the Virginia State Police and Prince William County Police Department Chief Steve Hudson all presented information about what their law enforcement organizations do within the county, and fielded questions from residents. Keep Reading…

State police assisted Homeland Security agency in Dale City

On Sunday morning in Dale City, several law enforcement vehicles were seen outside a Giant Food supermarket location in Center Plaza on Dale Boulevard. 

Several uniformed officers were inside the store. One uniformed officer stated that they had been in the area since 3:30 a.m. working on a “bust”.

“The troopers were assisting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” said Corinne Geller,Virginia State Police spokeswoman. 

Geller referred press to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for comment. The agency provided no specific comment on the police activity in Dale City.

“Every day, as part of routine operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) works in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies to target and arrest criminals and other individuals who are considered agency priorities,” said Carissa Cutrell, a Public Affairs Officer for DHS.

 

 

 

Flooding possible, significant snowfall expected Wednesday night

While the winter weather wasn’t as severe as predicted today, the National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook alert.

The rain is expected to continue into Wednesday, and could pose a flooding threat in some areas.

Late Wednesday night the precipitation is expected to turn into snow. There has been no exact project on the amount of snowfall expected, but the accumulation is projected to be significant.

Potomac Local will be releasing all information about weather updates, closings, delays and outages.

More from a National Weather Service alert:

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY 

HEAVY RAIN IS POSSIBLE WEDNESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT WHICH COULD

COMBINE WITH SNOWMELT FOR A LOCALIZED FLOODING THREAT. 

SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE POSSIBLE LATE WEDNESDAY

NIGHT INTO THURSDAY. THERE IS UNCERTAINTY WITH REGARD TO HOW MUCH

SLEET MAY MIX IN WITH THE SNOW. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS.

Snow, sleet expected tomorrow morning into the evening

3:16p.m.

The Winter Weather Advisory has been called off by the National Weather Service, as the precipitation has been mostly rain.

10:48a.m.

With the impending winter weather forecasted today, VDOT has issued a release warning drivers to be careful on the roads today, as conditions could become dangerous.

More from a VDOT release:

Motorists are advised that sleet and freezing rain could affect road conditions this afternoon in the Fredericksburg area, especially in northern and western areas. 

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are ready to apply salt and sand to reduce icing, and provide additional traction for vehicle tires. Sleet and freezing rain are forecast to affect the region starting in early afternoon, followed by rain.

Rain is forecast this afternoon in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Travelers are encouraged to monitor weather forecasts and road conditions on 511Virginia before starting a trip this afternoon. 

Motorists are encouraged to:

Slow down and allow extra travel time to reach your destination.

Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, ramps, hills, curves and overpasses. 

Keep a safe following distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are applying sand, salt, and treatment chemicals to the road.

Use extra caution on roads carrying less traffic, such as subdivision streets.

12a.m.

And just when you thought that the snow was over – it’s come back again. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory earlier this evening, in effect tomorrow morning at 9a.m. until 10p.m.

Snow and sleet accumulation is expected to be up to 1 inch, and there is some anticipated ice accumulation as well.

As always, Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest in weather, closings, delays and outages.

More from a National Weather Service alert:

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM TO 10 PM
EST TUESDAY...

* LOCATIONS...THE BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS
  AND NORTH CENTRAL MARYLAND.

* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION OF UP TO 1
  INCH...ALONG WITH UP TO ONE TENTH OF AN INCH OF ICE.

* TIMING...TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE TUESDAY EVENING.

* IMPACTS...ROADS WILL BE SNOW AND ICE COVERED. TRAVELING WILL BE
  DANGEROUS.

* WINDS...SOUTHEAST 5 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE UPPER 20S.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital floods, closes for the day

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in May 2011, prior to its opening. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Update 

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and its outlying health centers at Dumfries and Fairfax are OPEN and non-emergency employees have the option for UNSCHEDULED LEAVE or UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. All appointments remain on schedule; however, we encourage patients and staff to first take their safety into consideration before driving into work or coming in for an appointment. If the roads are dangerous to drive on, patients can contact the clinic where they have an appointment scheduled to cancel or reschedule. Military and civilian staff who may have difficulty reporting to work must contact their immediate supervisors to coordinate unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.

Original post 

The Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is closed due to flooding inside the building.

Officials at Fort Belvoir issued this statement:

URGENT NOTICE: Hospital Closing Due To Basement Flooding

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is CLOSED today due to water supply and plumbing problems that are impacting healthcare operations and network capabilities. All routine and acute appointments as well as elective surgeries are CANCELLED.

Emergency Room services are CLOSED as well. Patients should contact the Tricare Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) and select option #1 to speak with a team member about an urgent care need. Patients can also visit the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center emergency room for assistance.

Dumfries and Fairfax Health Centers may also be impacted as a result of limited network capabilities.

Hospital staff will contact patients to reschedule appointments; however, patients can also contact the Integrated Referral Management Appointing Center at 855-227-6331 to rescheduled appointments.

The $1 billion hospital opened in August 2011. The project devised in most recent round of BRAC replaced Dewitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir.

The hospital has 12o patient rooms. It was designed five phases, and was touted at the time of opening as the only hospital of its kind to incorporate views of nature.

First Friday March Madness in Downtown Manassas

first friday, manassas, shop
  • Historic Manassas Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street Manassas, Virginia 20110
  • Website: visitmanassas.org

Historic Downtown Manassas is going a little “mad” for First Friday. On March 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., City restaurants, retailers and the Manassas Museum are offering specials and special entertainment.

The list participating merchants is growing and can be viewed at .visitmanassas.org.

Each store and restaurant is selecting their own way to celebrate March with either a Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day or other March theme.

The Manassas Museum will offer free admission and 10% off at Echoes, their gift store.

The Osbourn High School String Quartet will serenade museum visitors.

There will be book signings, drink specials and much more around the Historic Downtown of the City of Manassas. Come for dinner and stay to shop and explore.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas.

The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art, games or special foods.

Closings and delays Monday, March 2, 2015

Public schools

Colleges and universities 

Military

Local government

Volunteer fire department responds to house fire in Woodbridge

Last night, the Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call for a fire at a town home on Pohick Creek Court in Woodbridge. 

Responders noted heavy smoke coming from the home on the scene, and had the fire under control in 20 minutes.

One family has been displaced, but no injuries have been reported.

More from a media release:

Occoquan Woodbridge Lorton VFD responds to Town House Fire.  

Woodbridge, VA February 28, 2015 9:05p.m. – Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters responded to the report of a townhouse fire at 1910 Pohick Creek Ct. Initial units arrived on scene within minutes and reported heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the townhouse. Upon entering the building, crews found significant fire from the kitchen extending into the second floor.  The fire was under control within 20 minutes. Crews remained on scene for several hours.

One family was displaced. The cause of the fire is under investigation from the Fire Marshalls office. Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, PWCDF&R and Fairfax responded to the incident.

OWL VFD is one of the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with over 300 members. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24/7 holidays and weekends. 

Closings and delays Sunday, Mar. 1, 2015

Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest in closings and delays.

 

Wintry mix today, into tomorrow morning

5:53p.m.

The Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department were called to the scene of another collision, at Shelton Shop and Courthouse Road. According to the department, one of the individuals in the crash was injured.

1:05 p.m. 

winter strom warn

A winter storm warning is in effect for Prnce William and Stafford counties, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park until 3 a.m. Monday.
Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS
ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR FREEZING RAIN…WHICH IS IN
EFFECT UNTIL 3 AM EST MONDAY. THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS NO
LONGER IN EFFECT.

* LOCATIONS…WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA…CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN
MARYLAND.

* HAZARD TYPES…SNOW…SLEET…AND FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS…A COATING TO AN INCH OF SNOW AND SLEET. 1 TO 2
INCHES OF SNOW AND SLEET NEAR THE MASON-DIXON LINE. ICE
ACCUMULATION AROUND ONE QUARTER INCH.

* TIMING…SNOW AND SLEET WILL CHANGE TO FREEZING RAIN BETWEEN 11
AM AND 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST ICE ACCRETION FROM FROM
FREEZING RAIN IS EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING.
PRECIPITATION WILL END THIS EVENING.

* IMPACTS…ROADS WILL BE SNOW AND ICE COVERED THROUGH TONIGHT.
TRAVELLING WILL BE DANGEROUS.

* WINDS…SOUTH AROUND 5 TO 10 MPH.

* TEMPERATURES…RISING THROUGH THE 20S THIS AFTERNOON.
TEMPERATURES WILL RISE INTO THE LOWER 30S

Keep Reading…

Under new plan, $4 million from Prince William fire levy used to fund career firefighters

Can county officials take funds from the fire levy to fund career firefighters?

Virginia law does allow it, said Prince William County Attorney Angela Horan.

Now, under a new proposal, $4 million of Prince William County’s $35.2 million fire levy — money traditionally goes to pay for the cost of new fire stations, new fire engines and equipment, as well as to fund operations at the county’s various volunteer fire houses — and use it to offset costs of county fire and rescue operations.

Shifting the funds will lessen the burden on the county’s general fund, of which $10.6 million was used to fund volunteer fire operations, according to county government spokesman Jason Grant.  

The current proposal aims to provide an additional  $4 million in fire levy revenue to the general fund, bringing about $8 million to cover some of the cost of career staffing during traditional volunteer times.

The In this next year’s budget nearly $8 million will be needed to fund those salaries.

“Four million dollars is a big change,” said County Executive Melissa Peacor. “I’m sure the volunteers would tell you that.”

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors spent Saturday looking for budget cuts. They also looked at moving monies from reserve funds to the general fund in an effort to cap a planned property tax increase to no more than 4% in next year’s budget.

The fire levy  collects $35 million per year, and is directly tied to property tax bills. The levy revenue has grown too large at the expense of the county general fund, according to Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart, who said it should be tapped to help lessen the burden tax burden on residents.

Volunteers fear, however, that if county officials dip into the reserve fund to pay for new career firefighters now it’ll mean less money to purchase new equipment, and funds to train new volunteers, and operations costs down the road.

“If you continue to take increased funds from the fire levy over the next five years, the fund becomes stagnant,” said Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Hickerson.

Hickerson added that he suspects the county will funnel even more funds from the levy in 2017 and ‘18 to meet the growing demands of the county’s career fire staff.

Peacor and County officials dispute that claim and say they will only take $4 million from the fund each year for the next five years.

Career firefighters are on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prince William Fire Chief Kevin McGee said his department will spend $10.6 million funding career staff during traditional volunteer hours – nights, weekends, and holidays.

The fire levy will also go to fund construction of the planned $11 million Bacon Race Fire station on the corner of Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road near Dale City.

McGee said volunteer fire chiefs will meet on Wednesday to get a first look at the proposal to shift $4 million away from the fire levy to the general fund.

*This story has been corrected

Prince William resident to leaders over $96 tax difference: ‘They can buy back their souls with it’

cash on stand

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will be meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday for another budget work session, to discuss potential cuts and what programs to retain. The ceiling property tax rate — the county’s largest source of revenue — must be advertised as of March 3, only giving the board members a few more days to work out an initial tax rate number.

County Executive Melissa Peacor presented the first draft of the budget at the board meeting earlier this month.

The board took a vote in December and directed Peacor to create a budget with a 1.3% tax increase, which reflects the CPI inflation rate. It was not the 4% increase written in the county’s 5-year plan, decided upon last year. Peacor was given additional restrictions on segments of the budget that had to be fully funded, including public safety and the libraries.

Many of the community programs that had been on the chopping block saw their funding restored. But now leaders must decide what else to cut to ensure taxes do not rise beyond the planned 4% increase. 

“I wasn’t on this board when the direction was given but had I been on the board – I think it’s fair to say that I would have voted for [the 1.3%],” said  newly elected Brenstville Distirct Supervisor Jeanine Lawson.

Occoquan District Supervisor Michael May was not present for the vote, but also stated he was in favor of looking at a budget using the inflation rate.

Gainesville District Supervisor Candland also voiced his support for the 1.3%.

Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe was against the 1.3% vote, as was Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who favored the original 4%.

“My belief then, was that we would end up with a budget that was far too detrimental to our school system’s budget. That the amount of rollbacks that the school board would have to do in order to implement that budget would be more than our community is willing to swallow,” Nohe said.

Corey Stewart, Chairman At-large stated that the vote for the 1.3% was meant only to serve as an exercise to get the county thinking about the types of cuts that could be implemented.

“The vote that the board took in December was the guidance to the County Executive to prepare a budget at the 1.3%, but that is not the rate that the board is ultimately going to adopt, and it’s not even going to be the one we advertise. The purpose of requiring the County Executive to develop the budget at such a low level was to force the county government and the schools into the exercise of looking for cost savings, and trying to identify things we could cut in order to keep tax bills as low as possible,” Stewart said. Keep Reading…

Winter weather, community outreach brings attention to homeless population in Prince William

10834856_10200271173539223_5720071598149664330_o

The frigid temperatures of the past few weeks, and the work of community outreach groups are drawing attention to the growing needs of the homeless population in Prince William County.

The Dale City Civic Association has been working with their Homeless Outreach program tirelessly this winter to provide supplies for the homeless individuals in camps gathered in the wooded areas of the county.

“It would be easier to tell you where they’re not – they’re everywhere,” said Lucille Cahill, a coordinator for the Homeless Outreach program.

According to Cahill, the program services homeless individuals aged 17 to 65, with the goal of not only providing them with necessary supplies at drop-offs every Saturday, but getting them out of the woods altogether.

“Our goal is to get them out of the woods, and into housing – whether family take them in, or we get them jobs and find them a room until they can find affordable housing. If they need medical care, we try to work that out with the local free clinic,” Cahill said.

To get funding for the supplies and outreach work they do, Cahill said they look to the community and churches for assistance.

While there are a lot of ideas about the lifestyles and situations of homeless individuals, Cahill stated that a lot of the people that are homeless in these camps work one, and sometimes even two jobs. They simply can’t afford to pay the high rent prices in the area.

“People who work at Wal-Mart, or local businesses can’t afford to live here anymore, and they wind up in a tent,” Cahill commented.

Recently, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors donated 200 sleeping bags to the program, costing around $6,000.

“It was wonderful because we cannot afford that kind of sleeping bags. It actually saved lives,” said Cahill.

Cahill was appreciative of the sleeping bags they board donated, but she felt more importantly that the actual dialogue started between the homeless outreach and the board is what is going to help the homelessness issue in the county.

“I think there’s finally a dialog between the outreach groups and the county. There’s been a lot of dialogs lately. Low-income housing is the first step…90% of the people I service – they work. They have jobs. They just can’t afford to eat and pay rent,” Cahill said.

Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who was involved in the board decision to donate the sleeping bags, said that something needs to be done, but that there isn’t an easy solution.

“[The board] is going to be doing what our human services is doing right now. We have people in place. We want to help – within reason,” Caddigan commented.

Caddigan stated that she has received requests from residents, asking that the county purchase a vacant Holiday Inn hotel in Dumfries to house the homeless. The hotel is currently being listed for $3.5 million, and for Caddigan, that is not a realistic option as the board moves forward to handle the budget.

There are several county buildings that are opened for the homeless on dangerously cold nights, by the county’s deputy director of Human Services, Elijah Johnson. But very few homeless individuals utilized the shelters, according to Caddigan.

“The thing is, that the people in the woods don’t want to leave their belongings. They don’t want to go into a shelter – some of them,” Caddigan said.

The Prince William County Committee of 100 has even recognized the homeless population as in issue in the community. The Committee hosted a forum on homelessness on February 19, where several panelists spoke with attendees about the issue, and potential steps to help the homeless community in Prince William.

There have been major successes for the Homeless Outreach program, in their goal to move the homeless into housing.

“We’re working [with] a couple right now…[one of the individuals] mother is elderly, and she has agreed to take them both in, in return for them caring for her. So we’re helping them get out of the woods and to New Jersey, which is no small feat when some of these people haven’t left the woods for several years,” said Cahill.

They have launched a Go-Fund Me page to help raise funds for the couple’s transport to the housing being offered to them in New Jersey.

If you’re a resident or organization that is looking to assist the Homeless Outreach program, they are currently looking for the following supplies, according to the Dale City Civic Association’s Facebook page:

McDonalds gift cards
Virgin Mobile phone cards
Verizon mobile phone cards
Trackphone cards
Cases of water
Backpacks
Cases of canned soups
Tents 
Winter Gloves
Sleeping Bags
Hats
Rat Traps
Cases of Toilet Paper
Cases of Hand Wipes
Packs of Batteries – AA, AAA, C & D
Blankets
Tarps & Ropes
Protein Bars
Toilet Paper
Canned meats
Boxes of crackers
Case of canned meat
Printer paper 
Marble notebooks
Pens

Closings and delays Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

Public schools 

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