At 4:15 a.m. this morning, Prince William police responded to a call in the area of Jefferson Davis Highway and Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge, to investigate a vehicle crash.
According to Prince William police, their investigation showed that a pedestrian – identified as 44-year old Woodbridge man Noe Zarte Mares – was crossing Jefferson Davis Highway when he was hit by a 2005 Freightliner tractor-trailer.
The tractor-trailer driver – identified as a 51-year old South Carolina man – was traveling southbound on Jefferson Davis Highway, said Prince William police.
Mares was pronounced dead at the scene, stated Prince William police. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.
Prince William police stated that Mares was in the crosswalk at the time of the crash, but the crosswalk signal was not activated. When Mares entered the roadway, the traffic light had transitioned from red to green.
This is the third fatal crash this year in Prince William County.
The food distribution industry is expanding in Prince William, as Reinhart Foodservice – the 5th largest food distributor in the United States – announced they would build a distribution hub in the county.
According to a release from the Prince William County Economic Development Department, Reinhart will be investing in a facility in the county, and bringing in 100 new jobs.
Currently the company has more than 65,000 customers, 16,000 employees and $23 billion in annual sales.
“We are delighted to welcome Reinhart, our newest addition of Reyes Holdings businesses to Prince William County. Just one year ago we revised our targeted industry sectors to attract additional ‘growth industries’ to the County. Having an industry leader, like Reinhart join our growing food services distribution companies reaffirms this decision,” said board of supervisors Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart in a release.
Reinhart will be joining another business – the Martin Brower Company – that has a facility in Manassas.
James Reyes, chairman of Reyes Holdings, stated that the proximity to major roadways and the customer base are major reasons why Prince William could see continued business growth.
“Our new location, which is situated just off of Interstate 66 offers immediate access to rail, allows us to optimize delivery times and better serve our core customers based in the Greater Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond,” said Reyes.
As you get ready to celebrate the long-weekend and Memorial Day, here is the latest from Potomac Local on what you need to know about closings, events and traffic & transit news. Keep Reading…
A three-on-three basketball tournament in Dumfries was billed as a big community event.
It was held Saturday, May 16, and it was anything but, according to Mayor Jerry Foreman.
“We had three middle-schoolers, three highs-schoolers, and some adults there. I call them adults because they had already graduated high school,” said Foreman.
Instead of a tournament, the event quickly turned into a coaching clinic due to a small turnout of participants. And that sparked a debate over the future of the town’s parks and recreation commission. Not yet 2-years-old, the commission plans events like these and others, like outdoor concerts and movies on the lawn.
Dumfries Councilman Derrick Wood pushed for the creation of the Commission and serves as its Chairman. He said the basketball tournament was the first parks and recreation event that fizzled. Wood said he didn’t attend because he had to work his day job.
The Mayor and other members of the Town Council have repeatedly called for a listing of events to be held by the parks and recreation commission for the next 30 and 60 days. The list would also track the interest of community members and business vendors, and could give town officials a better idea if an event is going to be successful, or if they should call it off.
“What’s the measure of success?” asked Wood. “If it’s just one or two citizens that come out and participate – as long as we’re planning and holding these events – I think we are a success.”
Councilwoman Gwen Washington said event attendance is an important measure of the success or failure of events. She also called for producing more printed fliers to advertise town events and then distributing them to school children so they can bring them home to parents.
Councilman Cliff Brewer cited a recently-passed town zoning ordinance that prohibited town officials from hanging up a banner across Main Street or attached to the outside wall of Town Hall to advertise events to passersby.
“We can’t even advertise our own events here. We’re pretty much cutting our own legs off,” said Brewer.
Wood said his parks and recreation commission needs to fill two positions on the board, and that would help the Commission better plan and execute events.
That could come as a help to town staff who have apparently been overworked, taking on more responsibilities to assist with Parks and Recreation events. Especially Dumfries Director of Community Services Ryan Gandy.
“I fear I am going to lose Mr. Gandy,” said Town Manager Daniel Taber. “He’s looking for another job. He hasn’t told me that. Others have.”
Taber presented a series of emails to the Town Council he says showed Gandy attempting to obtain information in an attempt to help coordinate parks and recreation events. All fell on deaf ears, said Taber.
The Dumfries Parks and Recreation Commission was scheduled to meet Wednesday night, May 20. A report about their meeting is slated to be reviewed at the next Town Council meeting on June 2.
Raymond Utz, the former Planning Assistant Chief for Prince William County pled guilty yesterday in court to two counts of indecent exposure.
The incident took place in November 2014 in Woodbridge, according to Prince William police.
According to a Prince William police release, the victim – a 38-year old woman, said that she was stopped at an intersection when Utz pulled beside her vehicle and exposed himself, making obscene sexual gestures.
Prince William police also stated in a report that Utz had been involved in another encounter like this earlier that day.
Utz had worked for the county since 2003, and was fired shortly after the incident, said Jason Grant – a spokesman for Prince William County.
Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert stated that the judge assigned a $2,500 for each count ($5,000 total) and 30 days of jail time for each count (60 total) as sentencing in the case – but Utz may not be required to pay the fines or serve the time.
“The jail time and fnes were suspended, [contingent] on his mental treatment. If he successfully completes the treatment, that’ll be the end of it. He won’t have to pay the fines or serve 60-days,” said Ebert.
When asked, Ebert stated that Utz will not be placed on any kind of sex offender registry and that he is currently receiving mental health treatment.
“He is to have no contact with the victims or anyone else [involved],” said Ebert.
According to the Prince William County Planning Director Chris Price, the economic development piece of the county’s comprehensive plan is a little out of date.
And by a little out of date – we mean that the document was created back in 1993. While little in the document has changed since then, there’s been a lot of change in the county.
“[The comprehensive plan] was substantially written in 1993 and it’s been updated minorly a couple of times. But it has such gems in it as attracting a computer museum…and maybe that made sense at one time…but I have no ability to influence that. That’s really where the economic development chapter of the comprehensive plan should be – can we do the development review process to facilitate economic development,” said Price.
According to Price, the comprehensive plan is a major tool that the Planning Commission uses when looking at permits and plans in the county – including land use in schools, transportation, housing and community design.
“When you look at a community, especially like Prince William County, with almost any discussion you have with folks about planning…economic development and transportation and schools – those are the three really big issues that folks talk about. And economic development almost always rises to the top of that list because they [become] ways to address the other two issues,” Price commented.
What’s missing from the plan
And while there’s areas of the comprehensive plan that are outdated, Price said that there are crucial pieces of the economic development puzzle that makes up Prince William County that are not there at all – including small business.
“Small business has virtually no mention in the comprehensive plan, in the economic development chapter right now – and that needs to change. We have targeted industries we want to bring in, but by and large, economies are much more successful when you’re growing your current economic base…I think a small business section in the [revised] chapter is going to be important,” Price said.
In addition to small business, one area not addressed in the economic development chapter of the comprehensive plan is agricultural related business and tourism.
“We do almost nothing in our policies and our vision to address agri-business, so the rural area has kind of become largely a residential holding place…you have a lot of counties like Loudoun that are really, really aggressive in their agri-business and agri-tourism and they treat it like an economic development sector – we are not,” said Price.
What comes next for the county
According to Price, the county has several opportunities to grow economic development and modify the Planning Commission’s plan, to better reflect the needs of the community.
One thing that Price mentioned was a joint land-use study conducted by the county, in partnership with the Quantico Marine Corps. Base.
“The base is a very significant economic driver in the county, but we’re not taking advantage of it…knowing know what we know about the bases’ existing and future plans on land use…we should be redesigning a land use and infrastructure plan around the Marine Corps. Base – taking strategic advantage of what we know they’re going to be doing,” said Price.
Mixed use land development is one area that Price felt needs to be addressed, given it’s inability to really take off in the county up to this point.
“We could bring mixed use districts all day long, every day, 365 days of the year, if we’re willing to allow residential to be the driver and hope for offices and commercial to come in the future. And that’s a challenge for us. Because we always hear from our advocates that, ‘Let me build the residential. And then at some point in the future, the market will pick up’…people buy into these communities that never come,” said Price.
The Planning Commission will be holding public hearings, so that residents can weigh in on what they feel the future holds and what they want to see in terms of economic development in Prince William County.
Price said that the plan is meant to serve as a 20-year vision for the county.
Those who visit residents of the Quantico Town could soon need a yellow hangtag.
The Town Council is considering new rules that would require residents to obtain a yellow hangtag to place inside of guests’ cars. The hangtags would be obtained from the town’s municipal office on 5th Avenue.
The parking pass will be good for three consecutive days. After three days, residents would need to obtain a new pass.
“We weren’t trying to make any hard and fast rules when it came to parking, but because of parking problems that have increased, we started to get complaints from people about drivers who didn’t have a parking pass,” said Quantico Town Chief of Police John Clair.
Up until now, town residents placed Post-It notes, or other small pieces of paper in cars parked on streets identifying the driver. A phone number was usually listed on the Post-It in the event a neighbor needed the car moved.
Edward Kelly says parking on his street is first come, first served. If the new yellow hangtag is approved, he fears incidents of neighbors or police knocking on his doors asking to move cars might increase.
“We should have this,” said Quantico Town Councilwoman Earlene Clinton.
Chief Clair was clear that if the new guest parking permit is mandated, there will be no flexibility for those who get a ticket for not possessing a pass.
“If this is approved, it will go into the town code, and the only way to resolve disputes will be go to court,” said Clair. “I wanted to make sure the Council understood that.”
Yesterday morning, Prince William police responded to Prince William Courage, a recreational sports facility, in Woodbridge for a call about a burglary.
According to Prince William police, an employee on scene said to officers that the burglary took place late in the evening on May 18.
During an investigation, officers found that the individual entered the facility from a rear door that they found damaged, said Prince William police.
Additionally, Prince William police were able to view surveillance footage which captured the incident.
There was money and clothing reported missing.
The individual is described as a white male, between 15 to 20-years old, 6’0” and 175 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie with a red North Face logo on the front, black pants and black shoes, said Prince William police.
Expect to see some changes on the roadways in Gainesville over the next few weeks.
As part of a $230 million project, starting overnight on May 26, traffic traveling on the southbound lanes on Route 29 between I-66 and Linton Hall Road will now be moved on to the newly built bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The new bridge crosses over the railroad track.
According to VDOT, the ramp that goes from eastbound I-66 to southbound Route 29 will also be reopened.
Additionally, VDOT is working to remove the traffic signal at Route 29 and Linton Hall Road, with all of the traffic on the Linton Hall/Route 55 section being moved to the new overpass.
After the shifts in traffic have been completed, crews will complete the ramps from Route 55 over to the southbound lanes of Route 29, as well as from northbound lanes on Route 29 to Linton Hall Road, said VDOT.
The ramp completion will cause some detours for drivers in the area.
According to a release from VDOT, drivers heading northbound on Route 29 to eastbound Linton Hall Road, and eastbound from Route 55 to southbound on Route 29 will all use temporary detour ramps.
Also, drivers going westbound on Linton Hall Road, headed to southbound Route 29 will be detoured to Wellington Road and University Boulevard, said VDOT.
The project is expected to be completed this summer.
What started as a family tragedy and a school project has become a large community focus on the impact of suicide in young adults – and residents coming together for a suicide awareness walk on May 23.
The 6-mile walk – which begins at 9 a.m. that morning – has been organized by students at Forest Park High School.
Hannah Kolkmeyer, the leader of the project, had the idea after a relative committed suicide.
“It all started with a death in my family…back in March my cousin committed suicide, and my family was obviously heartbroken over the situation. So, I came up with the idea to have a walk to raise awareness,” said Kolkmeyer.
According to Kolkmeyer, suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals from 18 to 24.
“It started off as a project, but now it’s turned into such a huge thing,” said Kolkmeyer.
Shannon Geraghty, a civics teacher at Forest Park High School, said that the project is a way for her students to put their knowledge to work – instead of simply taking a test.
“This project takes the place of a final exam. It is called an alternative assessment. I never have them take an exam; instead they have to put all their civic knowledge to work by making an impact in their community,” said Geraghty.
In order to get residents out to the walk this Saturday, Kolkmeyer and her classmates have been out in the community and speaking to elected officials to gain their support.
“We’ve gone to school board meetings – we’re going to the [Prince William] Board of County Supervisors meeting next week…we’re trying to get as many people as we can to come to this,” said Kolkmeyer.
At the end of the walk, participants will hear from speakers about the dangers of suicide at a post-race rally.
On May 16, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) honored several board members at the Broad Run Station in Bristow.
Here’s more information from the VRE on the honorees:
- Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
- James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
- Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
- Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
- Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
- Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
- John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
- Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
- Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member)
“Honoring these Operations Board Members is a gesture of the appreciation we have for the leadership and public service they provided in creating and shaping VRE,” said John C. Cook, Operations Board Chairman of VRE and Fairfax County Supervisor.
The VRE Operations Board will consider additional honorees on an annual basis.
Dumfries officials continue to take action against owners of properties deemed blighted.
The Dumfries Town Council will schedule a public hearing over the house at 17882 Main Street. The home sits along busy Route 1 south, the town’s main street.
Here’s what town officials have to say about the property:
Because the owner of the blighted structure failed to implement a plan for remediation within a reasonable time period, the Town Manager is authorized to request for Town Council to conduct a public hearing and make findings and recommendations regarding the safety of the structure.
Dumfries Town Attorney Olaun Simmons told the Town Council Tuesday night that he’s made several unsuccessful attempts to speak with the property owner, who has not been named. Simmons told the Town Council he had never seen the house.
The public hearing has yet to be scheduled. Afterward, if the council deems the property a nuisance, the town can order the demolition of the home.
The property owner lives in Woodbridge, according to Simmons. Mayor Jerry Foreman also said the owner owns other properties in Dumfries.
If awarded court approval to proceed, Simmons said the town would pay to have the house demolished and could later recoup the cost by filing a tax lien against the property owner.
“The town views this as a last resort. This was not our first choice. We’ve been put into a position where this is the last thing to do,” said Foreman.
The motion to schedule a public hearing to deem the house a nuisance passed 6 to 1, with Vice-Mayor Willie J. Toney voting against the measure.
This move is the latest in the town’s efforts to force property owners to bring their homes into compliance with zoning standards. Potomac Local last reported on another “blighted” home in Dumfries’ Tripoli Heights neighborhood that officials also wanted to demolish.
One person was flown to an area hospital just before 4 p.m. Prince William police said the victim was involved in a vehicle crash.
A helicopter landed at Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge. The victim was taken from the back of a Prince William County Fire and Rescue ambulance and loaded onto the helicopter.
No other details were immediately available.
Yesterday afternoon, Prince William police responded to a call for a robbery on Bombay Way in Woodbridge.
According to Prince William police, the victim – a 30-year old Woodbridge man – stated to officers that he was delivering a pizza to a home near the site of the incident, when he was approached by two individuals, who asked him for change.
When the victim was counting out change to give them, one of the men took the money and fled the scene on foot, said Prince William police.
No one was injured.
A police K-9 unit was used to search for the individuals, who are wanted by Prince William police.
One suspect is described as a black male, between 18 and 22 years old, 5’7” and 160 to 170 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black beanie cap, a short-sleeved shirt and jeans.
Another suspect is described as a Hispanic male, with long hair pulled back and a large tattoo on his arm. He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt.
Voters heard from all three Democrats vying to replace longtime retiring State Senator Charles Colgan.
Delegate Michael Futrell, Atif Qarni, and Jeremy McPike fielded questions Monday night at a Democratic debate for the 29th Senate District. Potomac Local was the sponsor of the debate. It was moderated by Bob Gibson, Executive Director for the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, and Stephen Farnsworth, author and professor at the University of Mary Washington, and Potomac Local Prince William Regional Editor Stephanie Tipple.
“The balance of power of the Virginia State Senate is before us,” said Futrell, who wants to ensure Democrats retain control of Colgan’s seat.
The candidate outlined their views on education, transportation, immigration, infrastructure and economic development.
“This election is not about the progressive values we have. This is about someone who can go to Richmond and make reforms for Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park,” said McPike.
The 29th Senate District spans much of Prince William County from east to west. So would a long-debated Bi-County Parkway – a project the candidates said would relieve traffic and spur economic development.
“I am the only one on this stage that commutes an hour or more to work every day,” said McPike, who lives in Dale City and works for the City of Alexandria Government and argued for improved roads. “I’m not the only one who gets nervous when I see a sea of brake lights ahead of me when trying to drive home. Getting home early – it’s like winning the lottery because I get to spend 30 minutes more with my family.”
Futrell told the audience that his time in the House of Delegates in Richmond gave him an advantage if elected to the Senate seat. A failed bill introduced during the last law-making session would have created an infrastructure savings bank comprised of both public and private money for needed infrastructure projects. He plans to reintroduce the bill, and he called it the solution to the area’s transportation funding crisis.
Qarni, a U.S. Marine and school teacher, hammered home the need for improving schools and making better opportunities for students.
“The reason why I’m in the situation that I’m in is because of a good education,” said Qarni, who said he was grateful to have served his nation in the Marine Corps.
Qarni also called for diversifying the region’s economy in an attempt end a reliance on federal government, and military industry jobs.
McPike said another round of federal sequestration is looming and could impact the region. Adding more cyber defense jobs at Quantico is critical to the economy, he added.
Futrell touted his time working with military veterans in the area to improve health and quality of life.
“We don’t need to tell veterans that we care. We need to treat veterans as family,” said Futrell.
Voters will head to the polls June 9 to decide which Democrat will go on to face Manassas Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II, the Republican seeking the 29th District seat.
On the evening of May 17, Prince William fire and rescue was sent to a townhouse fire on Corbin Court in Woodbridge.
When responders arrived on the scene, they found a kitchen fire that had been contained by the home’s sprinkler system, said Prince William fire and rescue.
They were able to quickly put out the fire.
Several area units responded to the call, including the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue, the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department, the Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department and the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department.
There were residents at the home at the time of the fire. They were safely evacuated from the home, said Prince William fire and rescue.
The Red Cross was on the scene to assist two adults and five children that were displaced by the fire.
Prince William fire and rescue stated that the damages are estimated to be $10,000. The fire is currently under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.
Yesterday at 5 p.m., Prince William fire and rescue were called to a fire at a single-family home on Lynwood Drive in Woodbridge.
When Prince William fire and rescue arrived on the scene, they found a fire on the second floor, blazing through the roof and the back of the home.
Responders from several units including the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue, the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department, the Occoquan, Woodbridge & Lorton Volunteer Fire Department and the Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department worked as a team to combat the flames.
No one was home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
The Red Cross was able to notify two adults that lived in the home, who were displaced by the fire, said Prince William fire and rescue.
The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire and the home has been ruled as a total loss. A Building Official has marked the building as unsafe.
The Prince William police are still looking for a suspect involved in an altercation on April 14.
Prince William police responded to a call that evening on Brook Drive in Woodbridge to investigate a robbery.
According to Prince William police, their investigation revealed that two individuals came to the home of the victim – a 19 year-old man – to purchase marijuana. During the incident, one of the suspects showed a knife and cut the victim in the hand, before taking marijuana and a handgun from the home.
Both suspects fled the scene before the police arrived.
The Prince William police stated that the victim had non-life threatening injuries and received treatment from an area medical facility.
On May 12th, Prince William police officers were able to identify one of the suspects – 23-year old Woodbridge man Timothy Racen Brown Jr.
Brown is described as a black male, 5’9” and 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He is currently wanted for aggravated malicious wounding, robbery, abduction and burglary.
The Apple Federal Credit Union branch in Gainesville turned one-year-old this week.
A business after hours event held on Tuesday, May 12, attracted members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce lined up for networking. They also dined on fresh-off-the-bone barbeque catered by “The Bone” in Downtown Manassas.
The branch on McGraws Corner Drive in Gainesville is one of 23 branches in the company. It is one of the three Apple Federal banking centers in Prince William County. Others branches in Prince William are in Woodbridge and just outside Manassas.
Residents of Prince William and Fairfax counties may join the credit union, said Bill White, the bank’s regional vice president.
An Apple Federal Credit Union branch is soon to open in North Stafford, at Stafford Marketplace next to Firehouse Subs. Stafford residents cannot simply sign up to join the credit union as Prince William or Fairfax may, added White, due to banking rules.
Project Mend-A-House (PMAH) is an area non-profit that helps provide home maintenance services to those in need in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. The organization has been able to provide assistance to seniors, veterans and the disabled for more than 30 years.
Currently PMAH is being lead by Executive Director Jennifer Schock-Bolles.
PL: Who does your organization serve?
Schock-Bolles: Project Mend-A-House (PMAH) helps low-income residents of Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Our clients are primarily seniors and over half have a disability. Many are veterans. Our clients are homeowners who need help with basic home maintenance issues – leaky faucets, broken windows, falling gutters. When you are having difficulty putting food on the table and providing basic necessities for yourself and your family, maintaining your home is often put on the back burner, sometimes for years. Clients requalify every year but once qualified, can ask for help as often as they need. Keep Reading…
Last weekend, a homeless outreach group in Dale City hosted a “Spring Fling” event in order to provide services and supplies to the area’s population.
Hosted at the PRTC Commuter lot, the event was meant to serve as a kick-off for the Dale City Civic Association’s Homeless Outreach group’s spring and summer services.
According to Luci Cahill, an organizer for the group, their winter outreach is mostly helping the homeless individuals survive the winter in harsh conditions – but the spring and summer are a time to provide them with more services.
“It was a major event for the homeless outreach. We had [the Greater Prince William Community Health Center] to sign people up, we had the League of Women Voters to sign people up – other organizations came out with supplies,” said Cahill.
Cahill stated that this event allows them to assess the needs of the homeless people living in the tent camps around the county, to see what medical and housing needs they have. Keep Reading…