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Traffic
Prince William plans diverging diamond interchange at Balls Ford Road


First on Potomac Local 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Drivers on Prince William Parkway at Balls Ford Road could see a diverging diamond.

The type of crossing that’s popping up all over the state called a Diverging Diamond Interchange, is proposed to replace a four-way intersection now controlled a signal light, near Interstate 66.

The interchange would be built just south of the current intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) and Balls Ford Road. The price tag to build the new junction, and widen Balls Ford Road from two to four lanes between the parkway and Groveton Road, sits at about $145 million.

Prince William County officials applied, and the Nothern Virginia Transportation Authority this month approved $235 million for the project. The project now heads to Richmond for approval by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The DDI design replaces an old cloverleaf design that was to be built in the same area.

Prince William County Transportation Director Rick Canizales said his department was able to lower the projected cost of the diverging diamond interchange, or DDI, project in the design phase and wouldn’t require the entire $235 million. The funds are part of a more than $500 million advance payment from Interstate 66 toll operators I-66 Mobility Partners paid to the state ahead of construction of the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes project. The funds will be used to fund road and rail transportation improvement projects in the region.

Prince William County already owns much of the right of way of where the new interchange will sit. While the project is still in the design phase, a portion of what will become the old Balls Ford Road east of Prince William Parkway will become a culdesac.

A right-turn-only, from the southbound side of the parkway for drivers exiting I-66, onto the old portion of Balls Ford Road could be added.

Balls Ford Road is Prince William’s industrial corridor with multiple warehousing businesses in the area to include Martin Brower, U.S. Foods, and Reinhart food services companies. Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) is a popular truck route that links I-66 and I-95.

The DDI is designed similarly to one that opened this summer on I-66 in Haymarket. Two signal lights on the east and west sides of the intersection control the flow of traffic, allowing drivers on Balls Ford Road to drive on the opposite sides of the road to move through the intersection, as well as seamlessly exit the road onto Prince William Parkway.

Known for its safety features, the DDI eliminates the need for making right turns across oncoming traffic to enter and exit a roadway. The DDI in Haymarket was the first in Northern Virginia, and a second DDI is now under construction at Courthouse Road and I-95 in Stafford County.

Balls Ford Road will be realigned and widened to four lanes ahead of the opening of the new DDI. From west to east, the new, wider Balls Ford would divert from Devlin Road and intersect with Wellington Road at a stoplight, then again at Wallingford Drive.

Two new bridges to be built as part of DDI will carry Balls Ford Road traffic over the Norfolk Southern Railway and Prince William Parkway. Once across Prince William Parkway, traffic on the new Balls Ford would reconnect with the old portion of Balls Ford east of Groveton Road.

The Balls Ford Road interchange is one of 10 projects Prince William County officials submitted to the NVTA to be considered for funding from the more than $500 million I-66 Mobility Partners grant. All of the projects were in the Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) corridor and included constructing new interchanges at University Boulevard and Sudley Manor Drive.

Traffic
Ground broken on I-66 toll lanes. Now for the $500 million new money for surrounding transportation improvements.

It’s official: E-ZPass Express Lanes are coming to Interstate 66.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday broke ground for the construction of new toll lanes outside the Captial Beltway from Gainesville in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

“Using taxpayer resources wisely to reduce gridlock in Northern Virginia and across the Commonwealth has been a top priority of this administration,” stated McAuliffe in a press release. “The project we are beginning today will increase the capacity of I-66 and give commuters more options for how to get to work, with zero taxpayer investment and a commitment of nearly $579 million from our private partners for even more traffic-reducing projects.

The new toll lanes will be built along 23 miles I-66, where two new lanes in each direction will be placed alongside the travel lanes.

There will be new access points to the express lanes from the travel lanes, reserved space for future transit projects, and at least 3,000 new commuter parking spaces that will accommodate expanded transit bus service in the corridor.

New bicycle lanes will be added in Fairfax County along the corridor, and the long-troubled intersection of I-66 and Route 28 will be rebuilt, removing four traffic signals along Route 28.

As part of the $3.7 billion deal between the state and I-66 Mobility Partners, a partnership between a Spanish firm called Cintra, and a French company called Meridiam, a total of $500 million will be doled out to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority ahead of the toll lanes’ opening. The NVTA, in turn, will then provide funding to projects it reviewed and selected to include a $128 million expansion of the Virginia Railway Express Broad Run station at the Manassas airport, and the construction of a $67 million interchange at Balls Ford Road and Route 234 bypass near Gainesville.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to approve these, and other projects to be funded with the money from the NVTA, on December 6.

But the new lanes and the new money for traffic improvement in the Route 234 corridor isn’t enough for Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart. He says the state is resting on its laurels when it comes to investing its own money in fixing transportation.

“It only addresses part of the problem. We have major problems at Sudley Manor and Wellington Road, all along Prince William Parkway,” he said. “The state is trying to say we’ve got our share of transportation improvements, when in fact our residents are paying for this with tolls.”

Support local shops, restaurants, and services for Small business Saturday

“Small Business Saturday” was launched in 2010 by American Express to encourage shoppers across America to focus a portion of their holiday shopping on small, local businesses. The program was initially aimed at helping main street businesses survive the economic downturn and cardholders were offered various perks for shopping small. “Small Business Saturday” has since evolved into an annual event featuring tens of thousands of participating shops, restaurants and service providers throughout the country.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Manassas and significantly contribute to this historic City’s modern beat. The revenues generated from these businesses are what helps enable the City to provide high-quality public services.

On Nov. 25, Historic Manassas Inc. will celebrate Small Business Saturday by “rolling out the blue carpet” for the local businesses. Events are planned throughout the morning to kick-off the local holiday season and discounts will be offered by many merchants. Come out on Saturday, November 25th and support the local small businesses of Historic Downtown Manassas on Shop Small Saturday!


News
Teaching the DAGPAW: Martial Arts and concepts for Life at Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center offers a variety of martial arts programs for kids of all ages. Master Geoff Mann teaches all of the martial arts classes here at the Community Center. He received his first black belt in 1992 and is a fifth-degree black belt.

Master Geoff has been an instructor at the Community Center for 13 years. That gives him more history at Parks and Recreation than the actual building itself!

Master Geoff explains that the term martial arts initially means “military way of.” The history of martial arts dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, and China. The military of these countries took the fighting and defensive systems of the peasants, adapted, and then incorporated these fighting styles to suit their military needs.

Fast forward to the 1970’s where martial arts legend Bruce Lee became famous for his skills and beliefs that the best fighter is someone who is adapted to any martial arts style while incorporating individual style and not limiting themselves to one practice.

“When I started training in 1985, the MMA club where I was training introduced us to all MMA practices at the time, so we learned a real variety! Now, I teach modern Karate, traditional Tae Kwon Do and I add a little Kempo, Akido, and Jujitsu. My own background and training is inspired by Bruce Lee because we both believe in individual style while emphasizing various martial arts,” he explains.

DAGPAW

Master Geoff tells everyone, students, and parents, that he firmly believes teaching karate and other martial arts is his tool to teach discipline, courtesy, and respect.

“Parents rarely come to me and say they want their kids to defend themselves. Instead, what parents want is for their kids to stay focused and to use their energy learning skills they can use in life. I teach these kids to become better citizens using the concepts of discipline, courtesy, and respect,” he points out.

Master Geoff teaches a theory called, DAGPAW, which stands for discipline, a’s and b’s, goal setting, perseverance, attitude (a good, can-do attitude) and work ethic. To Master Geoff, these are the real benefits of Karate and other martial arts.

“With MMA, the more involved you are, the better off you are. I am also a big believer in having consequences for actions,” he says.

The martial arts uniform is a useful tool to help discipline and focus the children. Mann encourages parents to purchase the uniform to help children achieve their goals. He gives students incentives through the patches on their uniform.

Master Geoff teaches his three to seven-year-old students how to kick properly and gets them to follow those guidelines as closely as possible. He admits there is no one true art form and encourages mixing to adapt to students’ needs and preferences.

“Traditional ways are great, but they might not be practical such as the high jumping kick. This particular kick was originally used to knock people off horses and is not something I use in my classes,” explains Mann.

The MMA classes at the Community Center begins with the Dragon Tots class for students, ages three to four, to learn basic martial arts skills with special emphasis on courtesy, discipline, and respect. This class is on Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 12:55 p.m.

WCRB Mixed Martial Arts are specifically for children, ages six to 13, with or without prior experience, to learn martial arts while emphasizing respect, courtesy, and discipline! This class also combines Master Geoff’s Academic Excellence program to help maximize your child’s learning. The class is on Mondays, from 5 to 5:50 p.m. or 6 to 6:50 p.m.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, special events, and recreational classes. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

News
Surovell’s short-term 3: Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and nonpartisan redistricting

Election Day was an electoral earthquake in Virginia politics.  Fourteen seats in the House of Delegates switched from Republican to Democratic members – the largest switch since 1899.  Two have not yet been certified due to irregularities and three are heading to recounts.  We do not know if any party will control the House and probably will not know until late in the day on the first day of session after the dust has settled.

While the new situation in the House of Delegates will create some uncertainty over the next fifty days, it will create some opportunities in Virginia public policy, but not a wholesale change of direction.  The Senate of Virginia is still controlled by the Republican Party and most major committees have significant partisan majorities. 

Notwithstanding, I am hopeful that in the short-term, we might see some changes in a three areas: Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice Reform, and Nonpartisan Redistricting. 

Medicaid Expansion
First, Virginia has foregone billions of dollars over the last several years due to our failure to expand Medicaid.  In addition to billions of dollars, we have lots 30,000 new jobs per year and approximately $200 million per year in savings to Virginia taxpayers. 

Today, nearly 36,000 residents of the 36th District receive their healthcare from Medicaid including 24,000 children.  This means there are likely over 20,000 adults right here within minutes of your home who would receive healthcare if Virginia had taken action. 

The new margins in the House of Delegates make movement much more likely, but not without some changes in our existing program.  In 1985, Medicaid consumed six percent of Virginia’s General Fund Budget – today, that number has grown to twenty-three percent and that is before the coming tsunami of baby boomer retirement home admissions.  We need to bend the Medicaid cost curve, but I am hopeful that we are nearing the end of irrationally refusing federal help to get healthcare to hundreds of thousands of needy Virginians. 

Criminal Justice Reform
Second, Virginia’s residents and jails continue to be burdened by an overly punitive criminal justice system which over-felonizes conduct and clings on to antiquated trial practices.  Virginia’s $200 threshold between misdemeanors and felonies in the lowest in the United States of America and has not been adjusted since 1981.  I will introduce legislation to raise this to $500 and remain the lowest in the United States for the ninth time.  Similar legislation has passed the Senate and died in the House five times.  Hopefully, no longer.

Also, accused persons in Virginia have extremely limited discovery rights in criminal trials.  Legislation to bring Virginia’s criminal discovery rules up to modern standards has also passed the Senate and died in the House.  This year should be different.

Non-Partisan Redistricting
Third, the close margins in the Senate and House of Delegates may finally make it possible to move nonpartisan redistricting legislation through the General Assembly.  Computer enabled partisan redistricting lies at the root of many political problems in our country.  Non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments have passed the State Senate twice but normally die in committee in the House.  I am hopeful that the new situation in Richmond will move the discussion forward.

I am putting together the 36th District legislative agenda over the next month.  Please send me your legislative ideas and feedback on structuring our $100 billion budget over the next two years.

It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.  Please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any thoughts.

Scott Surovell (D) represents southern Fairfax, eastern Prince William, and northern Stafford counties in the Virginia State Senate. 

Traffic
Will a lack of crossings at the Bull Run River mean higher tolls on I-66?

Will a lack of points in which to cross the Bull Run River lead to congestion, and excessive tolls on the soon-to-be-built Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes? 

One Prince Willam County resident thinks so, and emailed VDOT (and us) about his concern: 

After reviewing the Transform I-66 design again, I am concerned about the lack of road network capacity over the Bull Run between Fairfax County and Prince William County.

This will lead to excessively high tolls with limited alternatives. I am mainly concerned about the I-66 Westbound Direction where traffic is currently being held back by the light at Braddock and Route 28 and the I-66 merge at the Fairfax County Parkway interchange.

Three lanes from US 29, two lanes from Braddock Road, one lane from Northborne/Walney, and two lanes from Route 28 Southbound will funnel into the five lanes of I-66 and one lane of US29 across the Bull Run. This will lead to significant backups that will limit access to the two Express lane entrances at the I-66/Route 28 interchange.

The NVTA Transaction Plan does not include any additional crossings of the Bull Run other than at Route 28 in Yorkshire. The Manassas Battlefield Bypass is not included in the NVTA Transaction plan.

Please consider applying the I-66 Corridor Improvements Payment to:

– Add a shoulder traffic lane between US29 Centreville and VA234 Business similar to the current shoulder lane configuration along I-66 between US 50 and the Capital Beltway. (Remove Rest Area)

– Add a two-lane road connection (with an adjacent bike facility) between Balls Ford Rd. in Prince William County and Bull Run Dr in Fairfax County over the Bull Run. (Interactive Map)

It should be noted the “Projected Year 2040 Peak Hour Traffic Volume Plots” shows a 2040 volume of 6,990 vehicles in 3 Lanes between US 29 Centreville and VA 234 Business which is not possible. 1,900 vehicles per lane is the maximum. This makes me question all the data projections in this project over the past six years.

Traffic
Changes ahead for OmniRide, OmniLink riders

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission has changes in store for riders on Dec. 4, 2o17 as part of its fall service change. 

From a press release: 

PRTC’s Winter Service Change will take effect on Monday, December 4. New schedule brochures will be available from operators upon request and timetables will be available online starting Monday, November 27.

The following routes will change; routes not listed below will not change.

OmniRide:

  • Dale City-Washington – One later D-100T trip will be added, starting at the PRTC Transit Center at 8:20 a.m.; AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Dale City-Navy Yard – New routing and new stops in DC, now serving L’Enfant Plaza; first AM trip will start 30 minutes earlier; bus stop at Dale & Greenwood removed.
  • Lake Ridge-Washington OmniRide – AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Lake Ridge-Pentagon/Crystal City – New routing in Crystal City to serve new stop at 18th Street Bus Bays; new AM stop at Eads & 13th; stops at 12th & Clark and 18th & Crystal eliminated.
  • Montclair-Washington – Will use South Route 1 OmniRide routing on 7th Street in DC; new stops at 7th & Independence.
  • South Route 1 – New stops at 7th & Independence.
  • Manassas-Washington OmniRide – PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Manassas-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots.
  • Gainesville-Washington OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Gainesville-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; one new AM and one new PM trip.

Metro Direct:

  • Prince William Metro Direct – Timetable changes; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas Metro Direct – AM Timetable changes.

OmniLink: 

  • Woodbridge – Woodbridge VRE Station will be served by both A and B Loops; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed; some timepoints will change.
  • Dale City – Bus stops at Dale & Greenwood removed; new stop at Troupe & Cordelia.
  • Route 1 – Bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas OmniLink – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector; bus stop at Sudley & Grant removed.
  • Manassas Park – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector.

News
I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes to bring sweeping changes from Gainesville to Dunn Loring

BRISTOW — If all goes as planned, Interstate 66 will expand to help alleviate Northern Virginia’s crushing traffic volume and boost public transportation by the end of 2022, according to Virginia traffic officials.

Dozens of area residents turned out Thursday for a public hearing on plans for widening I-66 to include tolled express lanes outside the Capital Beltway. Three regular lanes and two express lanes will run in both directions from Haymarket in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

In addition to the 22.5 miles of new E-ZPass Express Lanes, the project includes additional and expanded park-and-ride lots, bus service and transit routes, interchange improvements and bike trails.

“We’re looking at this as a multi-modal project,” Susan Shaw, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia megaprojects director, told the crowd. Once the project is completed, she said, the upgraded system will be able to move 2,000 to 4,000 more people per hour than it currently can.

The overflowing parking lot at Piney Branch Elementary School off Linton Hall Road underscored the need for traffic solutions in an area that typically ranks among the worst in the nation for commuting.

The meeting was the third and final public hearing on the project’s design, and it focused specifically on the segment of the project from Gainesville to Route 29 in Centreville. About a dozen members of the public addressed concerns with the project, including the lack of bike trails in Prince William County, the cost of tolls for commuters and the aesthetics of the proposed sound walls. Public comments will continue to be accepted through Nov. 29.

The I-66 “Outside the Beltway Project” is a public-private partnership between VDOT, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam, Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers VA Inc. It’s expected to bring $3.5 billion in new construction to the region.

At the meeting, officials unveiled a video overview of the project showing what the completed project would look like. Planning for the massive expansion project began in 2011. The timeline calls for construction and right-of-way acquisition to begin in late 2017. That’s followed by additional parking spaces near Gainesville to be completed by summer 2019, and four traffic signals to be removed from Route 28 by summer 2020. The entire project is scheduled to be completed and tolling to begin by December 2022.

Groundbreaking is set for today, near the 1-66 and Route 28 interchange, with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and transportation officials expected to be on hand.

Once construction is underway, it will take place as needed throughout the corridor. Shaw said there would be no lane closures during peak traffic periods.

When they’re completed, the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes will use the same kind of “dynamic pricing,” which changes depending on the volume of traffic, that’s currently used on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95. Roadway sensors monitor traffic volumes, and toll prices adjust to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic flowing. When there’s more traffic, prices will be higher. When there’s less traffic, prices will be lower.

Drivers with three or more occupants would be considered high occupancy vehicles and could use the express lanes free anytime with an E-ZPass Flex.

On the stretch of the I-66 project Inside the Beltway, tolling will begin in December. All lanes of I-66, from I-495 to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn, will become express lanes with tolls on weekdays during expanded rush hours in the peak direction — from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on eastbound lanes and from 3 to 7 p.m. on westbound lanes. Carpoolers with two or more passengers can travel toll-free with an E-ZPass Flex, although that requirement will change to three passengers when the express lanes open outside the Beltway. The lanes inside the Beltway will remain free with no toll or HOV requirements at all other times.

Copies of the proposed designs for the project outside the Beltway are available at Transform66.org. They also are available for viewing at various locations throughout the area, including Prince William County government offices and regional libraries.

VDOT will be accepting additional public comment about the plan through Nov. 29. Email comments to Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov and include “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line.

Comments also can be mailed to VDOT Northern Virginia District, Attention: Susan Shaw, P.E., Megaprojects Director, 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030.

“We want to continue the dialogue we’ve started with the community, both the traveling public and the neighboring communities,” Shaw said.

News
Prince William voter turnout up; new precincts remain on hold

Turnout was strong in Prince William County as voters braved the rain to cast their votes in the 2017 General Elections.

Almost half of Prince William County’s eligible voters went to the polls Nov. 7 to decide on the next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and local House delegates.

A total of 122,612 votes were cast in the General Election, according to election officials. That equated to 45 percent of the county’s total 271,705 registered voters — an increase of 5.9 percent from the 2013 General Elections.

Despite Prince William County’s ongoing population growth and the increased participation by voters in an off-year election, election official reported no adverse effects.

“We saw no long lines this year and all of our precincts reported closed on time,”  Winston Forrest, the country’s election communications coordinator, said in an email.

A Potomac Local poll asked readers what issues were most important to them this election cycle.

Election officials have been seeking ways to offset long lines that have sometimes occurred at county polling places due to population growth, such as additional precincts.

The  Board of County Supervisors turned down a request earlier this year for a public hearing on the issue. But Forrest said potential changes remain on the table. “Yes, we are looking to add ten or so precincts next year,” he said. “A new request will be submitted to the Board of County Supervisors.”

Plans for where those new precincts could be located are undetermined. “We don’t have any information about the new precincts at this time,”  Michele White, the county’s director of elections and general registrar, said in an email.

The Board of Supervisors could once again take up the discussion next year.

Statewide, the Democratic candidates won all three top positions. In the governor’s race, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by a margin of 53.90 percent to 44.97 percent.  For lieutenant governor, Democrat Justin E. Fairfax  defeated Republican Jill Vogel by a margin of 52.72 percent to 47.18 percent. And in the race for attorney general, Democrat Mark R. Herring defeated Republican candidate John D. Adams by a margin of 53.34 percent to 46.56 percent.

Here’s a look at how Prince William County voted for statewide offices, according to Virginia’s Department of Elections:

  • Governor: Northam, 61.06 percent, over Gillespie’s 37.86 percent.
  • Lt. Governor: Fairfax, 60.61 percent, over Vogel’s 39.27 percent.
  • Attorney General: Herring, 60.47 percent, over Adams’ 39.41 percent.

In the House of Delegates, Democrats picked up seven out of the eight positions available in Prince William County. According to Virginia’s Department of Election, the results for members of House of Delegates representing Prince William County are as follows:

  • District 2: Democrat Jennifer Foy, 75.70 percent, over Republican Mike Makee.
  • District 13: Democrat Danica Roem, 52.60 percent, over Republican Robert Marshall.
  • District 31: Democrat Elizabeth Guzman, 60.37 percent, over Republican Scott Lingamfelter.
  • District 40: Republican Timothy Hugo, 57.51percent, over Democrat Donte Tanner.
  • District 50: Democrat Lee Carter, 55.79 percent, over Republican Jackson Miller.
  • District 51: Democrat Hala Ayala, 52.98 percent, over Republican Richard Anderson.
  • District 52: Democrat Luke Torian, 93.50 percent, with no Republican contender.
  • District 87: Democrat John Bell, 46.20 percent, over Republican Subba Kolla.

FreshySites designs, builds first e-commerce website for USA Volleyball

At FreshySites, we’re dedicated to taking our clients’ online presence to the next level through the creation of beautiful, clean and user-friendly websites.

With that mission front and center, we recently harnessed our commitment and passion to partner with WorldWide Sport Supply and create a website for a globally recognized brand and organization – USA Volleyball.

FreshySites was approached to create an E-Commerce website platform that would provide a scaleable solution for order management and fulfillment for the United States Volleyball Team.

Creating an E-Commerce website platform that can handle the high demand and order influx for a national brand has many moving parts.

One of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome was that this was to be the first E-Commerce site for USA Volleyball – ever.

Our team spent hours carefully planning and collaborating – internally and with our client – on the USA Volleyball site, mapping out its many components to ensure flawless functionality and launch.

After months of hard work, we created the USA Volleyball Shop – a modern and fully responsive E-Commerce website, allowing members and fans alike to easily purchase USA Volleyball swag on a beautiful, simple user interface for both desktop and mobile devices.

Explore the site’s different features, like the swatch zoom, which allows users to easily check out various color options for different products, or the sort options, allowing users to shop based on a product’s popularity, price, and rating.

From T-shirts to jackets to hats, there are loads of quality apparel products featured for men, women, and children – all sponsored by Adidas.

With the start of the Winter 2018 Olympics right around the corner, now is the time to explore this brand new site for any USA Volleyball fans you may know!

FreshySites is a regionally-focused company with national reach and operations.

FreshySites is a fast-growing website design firm dedicated to creating beautiful websites, while consistently delivering best-in-industry customer service and support. Founded in 2011, FreshySites has quickly expanded into the largest in-house WordPress web design shop on the East Coast.

Our Washington D.C. office was founded in 2012 by Vincent Consumano. With additional offices, we have the team, resources and tools to serve our local – and national – clients through website mockups, creative briefs, revision rounds, and Search Engine Optimization audits. FreshySites is determined to take our regional clients’ online presence to the next level, ultimately helping them to grow and thrive. Explore our website to learn more about us, see our portfolio of work and become a part of our client family today!

News
Where you can drop off your unwrapped toy for Un-Trim-A-Tree

Each year, Potomac Local helps sponsor Un-Trim-A Tree — the effort by Volunteer Prince William to spread a little Christmas cheer by ensuring children in our community don’t go without a gift this holiday season.

Children are provided two gifts per child, valued at not more than $50-$75 per child. This ensures that all children are treated equally.

Here’s where you can drop off an unwrapped gift to donate to this great cause:

 

1. Experimac – 8669 Sudley Rd Manassas 20110

2. United Bank – 10830 Balls Ford Rd Manasas 20109

3. Northwest Federal Credit Union – 9730 Liberia Rd 20110

4. Glory Days – 9516 Liberia Rd Manassas 20110

5. Uno Pizzeria & Grille – 10711 Bulloch Dr Manassas 20109

6. Women’s Fit – 8379 Sudley Rd Manassas 20109

7. Fauquier Bank – 8091 Sudley Rd Manassas 20109

8. Fauquier Bank – 8780 Centreville RD Manassas 20110

9. Fauquier Bank – 7485 Limestone Dr Gainesville 20155

10. Fauquier Bank – 10260 Bristow Ctr Dr 20136

11. Fauquier Bank – 15240 Washington St Haymarket 20169

12. Historic Manassas Visitor Center- 9431 West Street Manassas 20110

13. Philadelphia Tavern – 9413 Main Street Manassas 20110

14. Mariachis – 9428 Battle Street Manassas 20110

15. The Bone BBQ -9420 Battle Street Manassas 20110

16. The Things I love – 9084 Center Street Manassas 20110

17. Totally Vintage – 9126 Center Street Manassas 20110

18. Todos Super Market – 13905 Jefferson Davis Hwy Woodbridge 22191

19. American Disposal Services 10370 Central Park Drive Manassas 20110

20. Café Rio 7803 Sudley RD Manassas 20109

News
Breakfast Links: The size of the land on which a new county high school will sit just shrank

Father Gerard (Gerry) Creedon, pastor of Holy Family Church in Dale City, died Nov. 16. He was 73. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

The Prince William County school board is slightly shrinking the size of the plot of land it’s set aside for the county’s controversial 13th high school in Bristow. [Insidenova.com]

School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers says there’s only one way to find out whether Prince William County is ready to fix its overcrowded schools and eliminate the 211 classroom trailers parked outside them: Let voters decide whether they want to pay to build more schools faster. [Prince William Times]

A Democratic group claimed Wednesday that more than 600 Fredericksburg voters received ballots for the wrong House of Delegates race last week, adding another wrinkle to a close election that could determine control of the chamber. [Free Lance-Star]

News
The message from Sentara’s opioid town hall: It’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict

Narcan is often used to “wash out” the effects of opioid use for someone who overdosed.

In the past year, 1,159 doses of the counteracting drug — which is also an opioid  — were administered at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center to counteract the effects of heroin and other drugs.

That has prompted emergency department doctors Chinye Obidi to use words like “epidemic,” and “overdose phenomenon.”

“If you’re looking for a gateway drug, this is it,” the Woodbridge physician told a crowd of more than 50 people Thursday night at the medical center, speaking about opioid use and addiction.

Since 1999, the rate of people overdosing on opioids has exploded. And, it affects everybody.

“I feel like I’ve seen this before,” he said. “Maybe some of you are old enough to remember the crack cocaine epidemic? Well, this is different. Instead of going to an urban center and finding a crack house with people holed up and using drugs, it’s in suburban neighborhoods,” he said.

Sentara organized a community symposium called Project STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention. While there, attendees learned that hospitals can use opioids to treat severe pain and that prolonged abusers of the drug have increased sensitivity to pain, constipation, itching, and sweating.

Overdosing is ugly, and sometimes people can’t get the help they need.

“They used to dump you at the emergency department and leave you by the door. Today, they leave you behind 7-Eleven and hope someone finds you before your brain stops working,” said Obidi.

For those able to kick the habit, they will always fight the addiction to use again. “This is a chain you have to carry. This is something you have to fight every day,” he explained.

And, while many people make mistakes and can abuse opioids, Thursday night’s message was: You must have a compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude to the addicts and that it’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict.

In the coming year, Sentara plans to provide more resources to families who are dealing with opioid addiction. The hospital also plans to increase the number of drug takeback days, so people can properly dispose of unwanted medication so that it’s not used improperly.

News
No charges pending for discharge of shotgun in thwarting burglary

From Prince William County police:

Shooting Investigation | Residential Burglary – On November 11 at 5:03 p.m., officers responded to a residence located in the 14100 block of Morrison Ct in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a fight. The investigation revealed that a large group of males responded to the home and were involved in a verbal altercation with the residents who were still inside.

During the encounter, several of the males began vandalizing a vehicle parked in the drive way then started throwing objects at the exterior of the home. When one of the suspects kicked open the front door of the home, an adult male resident inside of the residence fired two rounds from a shotgun at the suspects. The suspects eventually fled the area on foot as officers were arriving.

At this point, this incident does not appear to be random. No additional damage to property or any injuries were reported. There are no charges pending for the discharge of the shotgun. The investigation continues.


Chronic compression of the spinal cord meant he couldn’t write a letter or open a bottle. Then Dr. Lotfi stepped in.

  • SNVMC
  • Address: 2300 Opitz Blvd, Woodbridge, VA 22191
  • Phone: 703-523-1000
  • Website: 703-523-1000

Lou Ferrao knew something was terribly wrong. He had suffered from neck pain before.

He even had surgery which gave him limited relief. But the neck pain he felt now was severe and accompanied by other, more ominous, symptoms. He had been experiencing spasms and weakness in his legs and now had begun experiencing the same symptoms in his arms.

Lou had always been an active man. He loved to scuba dive and was certified as a rescue diver; a designation only awarded after completing what some divers call the most challenging course they’ve ever taken. He loved to walk and hike.

Now he found his legs no longer responding to the directions that he was giving. It was devastating.

Determined to find the reason behind his troubling symptoms, Lou visited a neurologist who diagnosed him with severe nerve damage on his left side and moderate damage on the right. His neurologist then referred him to the Sentara Back & Neck Center and Dr. Paymaun Lotfi, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery, to determine the cause of the damage.

As Lou went through a series of tests prescribed by Dr. Lotfi, his condition continued to deteriorate. He was no longer able to open a bottle or write a letter, and when he moved from a room with carpet to one with wood floors, he would lose his balance and stumble.

After all the tests had been completed, Dr. Lotfi diagnosed Lou with cervical spinal stenosis.

Dr. Lotfi explains, “It’s a condition that causes narrowing of the cervical spinal canal and chronic compression of the spinal cord and nerves; this causes numbness and weakness in arms and legs as brain signals can’t reach extremities.”

Dr. Lotfi suggested a spinal laminectomy and fusion, which removes the back part of the vertebrae, decompressing the spinal cord. The spinal column is then stabilized by placing screws and rods in the spine. Since Lou’s condition had been longstanding, Dr. Lotfi explained that he might not regain all his lost strength and lost functions, but it was important to decompress his spine to prevent weakness, paralysis or something even worse.

Lou appreciated the time that Dr. Lotfi spent explaining his condition.

“When Dr. Lotfi sat down with us, his empathy really showed. He tried to put himself in my shoes. He showed us the MRI. You couldn’t see my spinal cord from C2-T2 because it was so compressed,” Lou said. “He gave me an in-depth explanation of what was going on. He was educating me at the same time as he was helping me.”

After listening to Dr. Lotfi, Lou realized that the surgery wasn’t about feeling better; it was about survival. With his wife’s agreement, Lou made the decision to have surgery at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The day of the surgery, everything went well. Dr. Lotfi was with Lou when he woke up and actually removed his cervical collar at that time. Lou suffered very little pain from the procedure and within four days was up and at rehab several hours a day.

Life is better for Lou now. While damage to the spinal cord can sometimes take years to heal, Dr. Lotfi says, “He (Lou) had a rapid recovery, and almost immediately could tell the difference in improved strength in his arms and legs.”

Lou no longer has the severe neck pain that plagued him, and he has regained his sense of balance and is walking with a cane. He is slowly getting his endurance back. He describes his life before and after his surgery as “the difference between night and day.”

Lou can’t say enough about Dr. Lotfi and his experience, “He (Dr. Lotfi) lives up to the Hippocratic oath. He was my guardian angel. It (the surgery) was the best thing I ever did.”

Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from spinal pain don’t seek help. They endure the discomfort and inconvenience for years because of many different reasons.

Dr. Lotfi understands this but says, “(You) may understandably be guarded about surgical treatment of the spine. However, many conditions such as stenosis are very disabling, and a properly executed surgery can truly improve one’s quality of life and function.”

Lou agrees and adds, “People shouldn’t have to suffer because they don’t know a procedure can help them.”

News
Breakfast Links: Teen’s final moments on tape

Teen’s final moments: “They shouted at her, demanding information about her role in the slaying of their clique leader, Christian Sosa Rivas, who was set up and killed with machetes, tree limbs and rocks in Prince William County about a week earlier.” [Virginian Pilot]

The Greater Washington Board of Trade went outside of the region to pick a new CEO, tapping Jack McDougle of New York to replace longtime chief Jim Dinegar. [Washintgon Business Journal, metered paywall]

Two Republicans clinched narrow victories over their Democratic opponents after votes were certified by the Stafford County Electoral Board on Tuesday afternoon. [Free Lance-Star]

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-10th, said Tuesday that a sitting member of Congress exposed himself to a young female staffer who then quit her job. [Free Lance-Star]

News
Woman standing in home kitchen grabbed from behind, sexually assaulted

From Prince William police: 

Sexual Assault | Residential Burglary – On November 14 at 6:33PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 12700 block of Gazebo Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a burglary in progress. The investigation revealed that the victim, a 54-year-old woman, was standing in her kitchen when she was grabbed from behind by an unknown male. During the encounter, the suspect inappropriately touched the victim. The victim was eventually able to break free from the suspect who then fled the residence on foot. Minor injuries were reported. Entry was made into the home through an unlocked rear door. A police K-9 responded to search for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

A dark skinned male, last seen wearing a ski mask, dark coat, and dark jeans

News
Dumfries man involved in fatal crash on I-66

A Dumfries man was involved in a fatal car crash in Fauquier County, just over the Prince William County line on Wednesday. 

More in a press release from Virginia State Police: 

Virginia State Police Trooper D.M. Garasimowicz is investigating a fatal crash in Fauquier County. The crash occurred Wednesday (Nov. 15) on Interstate 66 at the 36 mile marker.

A Ford Focus and a Ford F-350 pickup truck pulling a trailer were both stopped on the right shoulder of the westbound lanes of I-66. The pickup truck’s trailer had blown a tire, so it had pulled off onto the shoulder. It is unknown as to why the Ford Focus stopped on the shoulder.

But, the Ford Focus began backing down the shoulder and, while backing up, drifted into the westbound travel lane. A box truck traveling in that westbound travel lane was unable to avoid the Ford Focus and struck it in the rear.

The impact of the crash caused the Ford Focus to run into the guardrail off the right shoulder and the box truck to strike the Ford F-350 pickup truck. The box truck then overturned in the westbound travel lanes 

The driver of the Ford Focus, Judy C. Ravenscroft, 52, of Berryville, Va., was flown to Fairfax Inova Hospital, where she died later Wednesday morning. She was wearing a seatbelt.

The driver of the box truck, a 55-year-old Dumfries man, suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

No one in the Ford pickup truck was injured in the crash.

The Virginia State Police Motor Carrier Team responded to the scene to assist with the ongoing investigation.

News
Community meeting at Sentara on Thursday to tackle community’s response to opioid epidemic

WOODBRIDGE — Katey Gemmmell just wants you to STOP.

She’s a registered nurse at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, and she’s put together a new program called Project: STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention.

On Thursday night, she’ll join others at a community discussion held at the hospital on the epidemic that has become the opioid crisis not only in the U.S. but in our region.

“People need to feel like they have a positive role to play when it comes to preventing this,” said Gemmell.

The program builds on other symposiums she’s attended in Richmond and Washington, D.C. Attendees will not only get an earful from Gemmell and others in the healthcare industry, but they’ll also see what doctors and nurses must wear while working with a patient who has overdosed — personal, protective equipment, or PPE — to protect themselves from exposure to the deadly narcotic.

There will also be demonstrations on how to inject Naloxone, or Narcan, a nasal injection that serves as an opiate antidote credited with saving the lives overdose patients.

Just this week, Prince William police announced more of its officers would carry the life-saving drug in kits containing two injections. Right now, 36 officers on the force have been trained to use Narcan, and additional training has been ordered for the remainder of the officers on the force.

Since June, Prince William police have investigated 24 fatal overdoses. In 2016, there were 47 deadly incidents.

The epidemic has also prompted changes at the hospital. Sentara introduced a Dilaudid-free emergency room policy, removing the powerful pain medication from ER shelves.

The community discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, located at 2300 Opitz Boulevard in Woodbridge.

News
Low prices don’t make up for lack of customer service at new bargain basement retailer in Prince William County

The money that you might have planned to save by shopping at the new Ollies discount store just outside Manassas will be offset by the time you’ll spend in line.

I went to the new store on Sudley Road across from Manassas Mall at 2 p.m. Tuesday to return two glass food storage containers that didn’t seal when closed. The shop was bustling with people shopping for Christmas, everything from foodstuffs to towels, books, to kitchen blenders.

With the two glass containers under my arms, I picked the shortest line I could find but still spent 25 minutes in line to make my return. As I stood there, one woman asked to speak to a manager to complain about the long wait.

“I’m not standing in this line anymore. This is ridiculous,” she told the manager, Alma, as she pushed aside her cart full of merchandise and walked out of the store.

I continued to wait, and some of the people who had been in line behind me jumped into the next checkout line. Several minutes went by and I got my chance at the window.

I explained to the clerk that the seal on these containers didn’t work properly and that I wanted to do return them. He promptly called his manager — the same manager that had taken the complaint from the woman who had just walked out of the store.

I waited, and I waited. The manager walked past the clerk and me twice. Then the clerk called the cashier next to him, Odell, who was nice enough to help. He told my clerk how to process the return, what buttons to press on the cash register.

At this point I’m thinking, finally, we can finish this transaction, and I’ll move on with my day.

“I see you paid by credit card. Do you have your card on you,” Odell asked.

“No, I’m sorry I don’t,” I replied.

Now, at this point I know I should have brought my credit card with me. However, when in this situation before, I’ve always been presented with the option of receiving store credit. Or a simple, “I’m sorry, but we cannot refund your money without the card.” 

But after 25 minutes of patiently waiting, I was not expecting this.

“Well, how do you expect us to give you your money back if you don’t have your card?” he said.

After 25 minutes in line, by this time my patience has run out. Dumfounded someone would ask a question like that to a customer, I paused, and he filled the silence.

“You see, the way it works is you swipe your credit card, and then we refund…” he said.

“Don’t ask me how you are going to refund my money. Give me store credit,” I demanded, cutting him off mid-sentence.

Odell stepped back to his register to greet yet another line of people patiently waiting to pay.

“I’m going to call a manager, sir, and you don’t need to get an attitude with me,” he said as he began to help the next customer.

In the end, my $9.46 was refunded to me by way of a gift card. My time is something I’ll never get back.

I recognize the fact that the store has been open only two weeks, however, I give the store a failing grade for its customer service and question whether I’ll ever be back to the Manassas area location — no matter the bargains.

News
Kline development heads for public hearing Wednesday at Planning Commission

About a month and a half after its scheduled debut, the proposed Kline Development is now ready for prime time.

The Prince William County Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to hear from developer Stanley Martin about its request to rezone 100 acres of land at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Liberia Avenue just outside Manassas and build 392 new homes.

They would be a mix of single-family and townhomes constructed in a mix-use setting. Multiple businesses are proposed to be built on the property adjacent to the new homes to include a new Sheetz gas station, CVS Pharmacy, and a self-storage lot.

A revised proposal also outlines the possibility of the dedication of a new elementary school site. Under the old plan, the developer was going to provide enough cash to add one trailer classroom to Signal Hill Elementary School to help offset the influx of new children the development would bring to that school.

Additionally, a plan for a drive-through restaurant was slashed from the proposal.

Stanley Martin was to appear before the Planning Commission for a rezoning public hearing on Oct. 4, 2017, but requested more time to review and amend its proposal.

The proposed land rezoning, which would change the designation of the old Kline dairy farm from agricultural to planned mixed-use and general business development has sparked an outcry from citizens who oppose the project.

Eighty emails to county staff from residents opposed to the project and one for the project have been collected by county planning office staff. The big objection comes as Kline would put more cars on the region’s already congested roadways.

The development is now estimated to generate some 15,480 new trips on area roadways, including Route 28, which has been dubbed the most congested road in Northern Virginia.

Stanley Martin Homes didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

County staff recommended approval of the Kline development because, as it states, the project will ease traffic as there are a series of bus stops planned for the center. Also, because it’s a mixed-use development and because it supports the county’s goal of adding new businesses to attain a commercial tax base of at least 35 percent.

The plan needs to pass the Planning Commission before it can move ahead to the Board of Supervisors for final approval. If it doesn’t pass, the land cannot be developed as proposed, however, another developer could bring forth a new plan for consideration at a later date.

The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Prince William County Government Center’s McCoart Administration Building.

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