For a Better Commute. For Better Connected Communities in Prince William & Stafford, Va.

Dale City Local

Colgan Considers Retirement, Again

Sen. Charles Colgan (D-29th, Manassas, Prince William)

Update: 11 a.m.
Sen. Chuck Colgan (D, 29 – Manassas, Prince William) says he will make an announcement next week as to whether or not he’ll retire as the President Pro Tempore of Virginia’s Senate.

He’s going to take the Memorial Day weekend to work out some family issues and spend time with his wife, who would like to see more of him, said Colgan.

“I’m 85-years-old, and about that time you begin to feel your age. I still think I would make a good offering to the commonwealth, but right now I am going to work out some family issues,” said Colgan.

Colgan says he has an obligation to speculation of his retirement behind him and make an official announcement sometime next week.

Colgan first considered retirement in 2003, but was asked by then Gov. Mark Warner to run for reelection to keep the seat in Democratic hands. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine during his term approached the verteran legislator and asked again if he would run.

“A campaign is long, hard hours, and that’s something that we are going to have to consider when we think about this next election season,” said Colgan.

The senator is up for reelection this fall.

Prince William County, Va. –– Prince William County and Manassas’ state senator, Charles Colgan, is going to retire, reports indicate.

The political blog, Not Larry Sabato, is reporting the President Pro Tempore of the Virginia Senate will retire this year.

An announcement has not been made as to who will replace the long-serving Democrat.

Colgan, 84, was elected to office in 1975 and has served ever since.

Colgan’s 29th District includes Manassas and much of Prince William County.

Among his list of legislative successes is the highway interchange at Prince William Parkway and Nokesville Road (Va. 28) outside Manassas.

Colgan help to found Colgan Air, a passenger airline based out of Manassas.

Comcast TV Customers told to Upgrade Equipment

The days of getting cable service by simply plugging a coaxial cable directly into the back of the TV set are coming to an end for many Comcast customers.

Beginning this week, the largest cable company in the nation began requiring customers in Prince William and Stafford counties to get digital set top boxes to continue receiving many of their regular channels.

Customers who haven’t already switched to digital service on Tuesday were greeted with a message on their TV screens stating upgrades to Comcast’s network would require customers to get additional equipment to continue receiving many of the Comcast’s channels they have come to expect.

Not all of the channels were taken away, but cable networks such as Bravo, TNT and others suddenly disappeared from the cable TV line up.

“Again, we’re calling the initiative “world of more” because it’s helping us keep our customers ahead of the digital curve and bring them access to more HD, more video on demand, faster Internet speeds and the ultimate in digital video and sound.  To make “world of more” possible, Comcast’s analog expanded basic cable channels will be delivered exclusively in digital format, and digital equipment will be needed to view those channels,” said Comcast spokeswoman Alisha Martin.

The change won’t affect the 85 percent of Comcast customers nationwide who already have cable TV converter boxes.

Comcast’s expanded basic customers without will be allowed one digital converter box and up to two smaller boxes for other TVs in the house for no additional charge. Existing digital customers will be allowed up to two free digital adapters for their homes, said Martin.

Those new boxes can be picked up at payment center, including one in Dale City and on Garrisonville Road (Va. 610), or can be ordered online and mailed to customers.

So many people have been affected by the change that a customer service center in Manassas ran out of the smaller digital adapters on Wednesday afternoon, but was still able to offer set up boxes.

Cable bills are not expected to rise as part of the change, but customers are promised more channels like Biography, Bloomberg, History International and Lifetime Movie Network.

Memorial Day Closings

It’s the annual, unofficial start to summer! Memorial Day weekend is here, the time where we take an extra day off of work to honor those who have served their country. Because it’s a holiday, it won’t be business as usual for many municipal agencies.

Fairfax County
Government offices – Closed Monday May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30

Prince William County
Government offices – Closed Monday ,May 20, 2011

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30, 2011

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 20, 2011

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, 2011, neighborhood libraries closed Saturday, May 28 through May 20, 2011. All branches to reopen May 31, 2011.

Stafford County
Government offices – Closed Monday, May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 30. Will reopen Tuesday, May 31 for regular business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. Will reopen normal hours Tuesday, May 31.


Traffic and Transit

I-95 / 395 / 66 High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
HOV Resrtrictions lifted Monday May 30, 2011

I-95/395 lanes to run southbound from 1 p.m. Friday, May 27 until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28. Lanes will run northbound from 4 p.m. through the remainder of the weekend.
The lanes will CLOSE to regular traffic Sunday for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle event, between 7:30 and 11 a.m.

Fairfax Connector Bus – Sunday schedule on Monday, May 30, 2011

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission – No service Monday, May 30, 2011

Virginia Railway Express – No Service Monday, May 30, 2011

Metrorail – Washington’s Metrorail will conduct track maintenance over the weekend. Riders are asked to plan ahead for delays.

Around Town

Teacher raises on the way
Teachers in Stafford County will get step raises during the next school year, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Unpopular commuter lot
Despite a shuttle bus and two new Slug lines, still too few people are using a commuter lot at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, reports Insidenova.com.

Bus fares raised
It’s going to cost you more to ride FRED buses in Stafford and Fredericksburg, reports Fredericksburg Patch.

Fairfax buses to change routes near Ft. Belvoir
Fairfax Connector bus service is expanding as the BRAC closure/open date draws near, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

No Walmart for Wilderness
Walmart  won’t build a new store on the site of a Civil War battlefield in Wilderness, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Police Shatter Window to Make Arrest

Byron Christopher McCaskill-Bey, 42, faces charges after he tried to assault a police officer, police say.

Dale City, Va. –– One man is charged with assaulting a police officer during a traffic stop.

Police tried to stop a vehicle in the area of Minnieville and Delaney roads at 10:44 p.m. Monday. The male driver did not stop, and continued about a block west to Minnieville Road and Estate Drive.

When he did stop, the male driver rolled up the car windows, locked the doors and ignored the officer’s commands to identify himself, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

At one point, the driver cracked the driver’s side window wide enough for the officer to get his arm inside the vehicle so he could roll it down further. But the driver tried to roll up the window on the officer’s arm, said Perok.

The officer pulled his arm out of the window, and when the man again refused to comply with police demands they shattered the passenger side window of the car and took the male into custody without incident, said Perok.

Byron Christopher McCaskill-Bey, 42, of Portsmouth, is charged assault and battery on a law enforcement officer, obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license, said Perok.

He was held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court June 23.

Sport and Health Raises Funds and Heart rates

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Dale City Sport and Health Club’s second annual block party to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital had people’s hearts pumping on Saturday.

Rommel Bradley, manager, said that the event shows “We’re about taking care of people.  This isn’t just a health club, we’re about raising awareness, not just fitness.”

Bradley said this year’s outdoor Zumba and spin classes, along with food, a bake sale, moon bounces, face painting and cotton candy, would all help to raise a projected $2,000 for St. Jude.

“Two years ago we were able to raise just a few hundred dollars.  This year we really wanted to step it up for St. Jude’s”, shared Bradley.  “We have Capital One Bank doing $750 with members making up the rest of the $2,000.” he shared.

Dale City Sport and Health Club is located on Dale Boulevard in Dale City.  A second location in the nearby Stonebridge at Potomac Crossing shopping center will open in June.

Area High Schools Among Best in Region

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Several schools in the Potomac Communities have placed among the top 100 in the area according to the Washington Post’s “High School Challenge”.

The survey ranks high schools in the Washington area. C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge placed number 58 followed directly by Lorton’s South County Secondary School.  Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge came in at number 84, Stafford’s Colonial Forge High School registered just behind that at 86, and Forest Park High School, also in Woodbridge, finished out at 99.

This year’s rankings featured some changes from the 2010 Challenge. Hylton’s position moved 10 places from last year’s 48th position.  South County also moved in the wrong direction from last year’s 44th.   Gar Field was in 77th position last year, although Colonial Forge held steady at 86th. Forest Park made a positive change, however, moving from 101 last year into the top 100 this year.

The annual challenge ratings are based on “a simple formula” according to The Washington Post, with rankings derived from dividing the number of college-level tests a school gave by the number of graduating seniors.  The Washington Post feels this rating “can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.”

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

Cycling Commuters Treated to Coffee, Pastries

Jim Haugan of Village Skis and Bikes in Lake Ridge helps inspect a bicycle with Bike to Work Day Volunteers Marilyn Schultz and Mike Campbell.

Woodbridge, Va. –– It was Bike to Work Day across the Washington area today, and 29 people signed up to bike to work from the Chinn Fitness and Aquatics Center in Woodbridge.

This was one of 49 pit stops in Virginia, Maryland and Washington that had breakfast, coffee and t-shirts for those who traded in their cars for a pair of pedals.

“This is the first year we’ve done this, and we’ve had an awesome turn out this morning,” said Chinn Center General Manager Sally Wood.

Both pit stops in the Potomac Communities –– Chinn Aquatic Center and the Virginia Railway Express Rippon station –– were open from 6 until 9 a.m.

Jim Haugan owns Village Skis and Bikes in Lake Ridge, and says cycling has caught on among empty nesters (those whose children have moved out of the home) over the past 26 years he’s been in business.

“I wish we had more bike lanes and places to ride bikes in the area, but events like this help keep cycling the public eye,” said Haugan.

Bike to Work Day is a free event open to everyone, and riders are encouraged to sign up at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website.

Everyone who registered received a free Bike to Work Day t-shirt.

Registrants for Bike to Work Day were also invited to make a weekend out of the event, and were offered discounts on participating in a larger group bike ride, Bike D.C. Day, to be held Sunday.

Arson Causes $20,000 in Damage

Woodbridge, Va. –– Police want to know who set someone’s front porch ablaze Monday.

Fire and rescue crews at 1:06 a.m. were called to a home in the 1700 block of Averet Street, off Blackburn Road, and found a resident dousing the fire with a garden hose.

Damage to the home is estimated to be at $20,000, and no one was injured, said Prince William fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander.

The Prince William Fire Marshall is actively investigating this case.

Prince William Crime Rate Falls Slightly

Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane

Woodbridge, Va. –– Overall crime in Prince William County fell slightly in the past year, according to newly released crime statistics.

Falling slightly was the number of rapes that were reported, down four from the five-year high in 2009 of 57 reported rapes in Prince William.

Police heralded the capturing the notorious East Coast Rapist that terrorized women for 14 years, and in his most recent suspected attack, raping two of three girls behind in woods behind a shopping center at gunpoint in Dale City on Halloween night 2009.

“This was a case that we put a lot of effort into…this is truly a stranger abduction, rape of the worst kind,” said Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane.

As the county population increased over the past year, the county’s overall crime rate slightly fell from 19.5 to 19.2 percent. That continues a trend of a falling crime rate over the past five years, when it was at a recent high of 21.6 percent in 2006, according to the crime stats report.

The number of murders in the county fell last year by one to nine, and all of which have been solved, said Deane.

There were some categories of crime that rose last year, including larcenies (virtually any type of theft), and cases of aggravated assault.

Of the 224 people charged with aggravated assault last year, at least 20 of them used a firearm, knife or some type of cutting instrument.

Several illegal immigrants were arrested last year, including 274 for not having a driver’s license, six for rape and three for murder.

Prince William began keeping track of illegal immigrants who were arrested after county officials passed an illegal immigration ordinance in 2008.

Jenkins Touts Transit, Sidewalks in Reelection Bid

Dale City, Va. –– John D. Jenkins will make another run at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

The Democrat has served the Neabsco District, which includes much of Dale City, for 28 years.

Though the average tax bill will go up over the next year, Jenkins says he’s worked over the years to lower taxes, built new schools, add officers to the county’s police department and helped to build sidewalks from his distort to Manassas.

“As you know, tax assessments went up in the county. Whenever you have a bigger base to assess you have to put things in proper perspective, knowing that one tax rate today a $1.20 [per $100 of the assessed real estate value] will raise one in which we are able improve the quality of life in the county,” said Jenkins.

The average tax bill is expected to rise $78, but county officials say taxes are lower when accounting for inflation.

Jenkins, a retired Army Lt. Colonel, has focused much of his attention over the years on transportation projects. He helped start the county’s successful road bond projects that saw the construction of Prince William Parkway, as well as other road improvements.

He helped found Virginia Railway Express, and he currently serves as Chairman of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

“I’m going to run on my record, and I think my record is a good, solid example of my accomplishments,” said Jenkins.

His wife, Ernestine Jenkins, will once again serve as his campaign manager. For many years, she has been involved in the community and has worked to help make Dale City’s annual Fourth of July Parade one of the largest in the region.

Boys and Girls Club Holds Annual Benefit

Retired Washington Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey was the keynote speaker at Monday’s Boys and Girls Clubs benefit dinner in Dale City.

Dale City, Va. –– Retired Washington Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey has some advice to share with parents and young people Monday night.

He addressed the more than 150 who attended the Hylton Boys and Girls Club Steak and Steak charity dinner in Dale City.

“There are those in this world who receive but do not give, and there are those who give and do not receive,” said Harvey. “My life has been full of people who have given to me, and sometimes I forgot along the way how many people helped me to become where I am today.”

A first-round draft pick in 1988, and currently the owner of a consulting firm, Harvey reminded the community of the mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Greater Washington area –– to build bright futures.

In addition to a steak dinner, there was a silent auction to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.

The event drew several business owners, including Jenny Caro of Jewelry By Design, and politicians from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, state delegates, senators and congressmen.

Everyone in the audience heard firsthand about the importance of raiding children to become better leaders, and to show them to take chances.

“There is nothing worse for people on their deathbed to say ‘I could’ve, or I should’ve,’” said Harvey.

At the end of the night, children in the audience who are members of the Boys and Girls Club were each presented digital cameras.

Human Skull Found

Dale City, Va. –– Police have found what appears to be a human skull.

The discovery was made on Saturday, behind a K-Mart store on Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

The remains were sent to the state medical examiner’s office for identification and there were no signs of trauma, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

This latest report of human remains found comes after examiners identified human remains found off Minnieville Road in 2008 as those of Linda Mae Archer.

Archer went missing in 2005 and police are now investigating her death as as homicide.

Farmers Market Returns

Cousins Diana and Amanda from Manassas came out on opening day of the Dale City Farmers Market to pick up kettle corn. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Dale City, Va. –– With the smell of fresh-popped kettle corn wafting in the air, some 18 vendors began the 2011 season of the Dale City Farmer’s Market.

Small stands and trucks lined up in the commuter parking lot behind Center Plaza on Dale Boulevard selling a little bit of everything.  Spring vegetables, homemade mixes, baked goods, cheese, soap, and plants were available, along with sorbet, honey, pickles, and flowers. Several people had stepped up onto a refrigerated truck to select local grass-fed beef from mounted freezers.

Woodbridge locals Carly and her little sister Bree came with their mother, who said their family likes the market so much they anxiously await the opening of the following year’s farmer’s market in November, when the current year’s market closes or the season  “My favorite is the flowers”, said Carly.

While many of the vendors come back year after year Michele Hirata was enjoying her first day.

(Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

“It’s been crazy,” said Hirata, the owner of Crepes de Pouce Gras.

Hirata opened the business to support her non-profit organization, Fat Thumb, which provides hand-knit beanies free of charge to chemotherapy patients.

“I was featured in the USAA magazine last year, and I’ve had more orders than I can keep up with.  This was a creative way to keep filling orders free of charge”.

The Dale City Farmer’s Market is a Prince William County Park Authority activity, and runs from April through November each Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kristina Schnack Kotlus is PotomacLocal.com’s Style and Events producer and lives with her family in Woodbridge.

Evicted, Homeless Have Few Places to Go

 

Roger, who lives in a homeless camp outside the C.D. Hylton Memorial Chapel, says he will move to a new wooded area near the Horner Road commuter lot in Woodbridge after his is forced out Thursday.

It was a race against time at the homeless camps in Dale City on Wednesday.

People, some of which who have lived in tents on a highway cloverleaf at Interstate 95 and Dale Boulevard for more than 10 years, were packing their things and asking anyone with a truck to come and help them move.

Virginia State Police at 10 a.m. Thursday are expected to enter thickets and force the homeless campers from the land, which, technically, they have been trespassing on as it is owned by the state.

At noon, after the campers are gone, the Virginia Department of Transportation will come along and trash whatever the campers can’t take with them.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we are going to need more time to get our stuff out of here,” said Lafayette, 43, who lives in one of the camps. “Each of these tents here has a queen size mattress in it. How are we supposed to carry that stuff ourselves as we walk down the road?”

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said state troopers began going to the camps March 23 notifying the homeless of the deadline to vacate.

Of the more than 30 tents in the area, more than 80 people will be displaced.

The campers said police officers were very kind and accommodating when they came to deliver them the news.

Not welcome on state property
Last week, and again on Wednesday, crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation were putting up signs notifying campers they are trespassing on state property.

Until now, those who live in the camps have enjoyed a relatively peaceful relationship with police, and often use Prince William County’s warming shelter outside the OmniRide bus terminal on Telegraph Road to shower and get a hot meal.

The campers make their homes in the woods as cozy as possible.

Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins did not return a call Wednesday to comment on this story, and state delegates Richard Anderson and Luke Torian said they didn’t know the campers were being forced to move.

A ‘safety’ thing
VDOT says the homeless are being forced from the land for safety’s sake.

“This is a difficult situation and while we are sympathetic to anyone who is homeless, but VDOT cannot allow these shelters on its right of way,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. “The main issue is safety—of both the campers there and the traveling public. VDOT’s right of way is in high-speed, high-traffic locations. The campers are walking across the roadway (interstate entrance and exit ramps) to access their tents at night, making it an extremely dangerous situation for themselves and motorists.”

Campers say they do cross busy Dale Boulevard to get to the winter shelter, which as luck would have it, closes Thursday and will only reopen as a cooling center when hot summer temperatures become a problem.

At home in the woods
At the homeless camps are generators used to power lights, stereos and TV sets. Picnic tables are set up next to gas stoves where meals are cooked with propane stoves.

Rainwater is collected in buckets so clothes can be washed and the hung on a line strung between two trees to dry.

Inside one of the few remaining tents at an abandoned camp near I-95, the bed is made awaiting the return of its owner.

Roger, who has lived at a camp outside the C.D. Hylton Memorial Chapel for about a year and a half, stood by a free-standing metal fireplace to keep warm as sleet fell Wednesday afternoon.

His encampment, also on state property, sits on the chapel’s property line. He says the chapel will not allow campers on their property, but workers there  do help them with trash collection.

“I don’t know where we are going to go. We’ve been out here all winter freezing our butts off, and now this. I guess we’ll make due, because we’re homeless but not helpless,” he said.

Roger, who had yet to breakdown any portion of his camp, said he would move to another wooded area near the Horner Road commuter lot.

Michael Anthony was still sleeping inside his tent about 1:30 p.m. at a camp across from the bus terminal next to the highway. He is the only one left at the camp, as others apparently heeded the warning to vacate the land prior to the arrival of police.

They left behind a mess of trash and the remnants of old tents.

Known as “Bernie Mac” to others at nearby camps because of his resemblance to the late star, he spent 12 years in the Marine Corps but now lives in the woods and makes regular visits to his parole officer. “You know, I haven’t even given moving much thought. It’s something that I don’t even want to think about,” said Anthony.

Nowhere to go
There are few options for these campers, and other wooded spots in the area not on public land are either already taken by other homeless campers. There are also fears amongst campers that after word gets out state police kicked them off public land, private land owners could also force them to leave.

Clotheslines are a common sight at the camps.

A handful of campers currently live on private land behind a K-Mart store along Dale Boulevard. It’s on private land, and Geller says the state has not been asked by the landowner to make the homeless leave.

Campers say they can turn to area churches for help, including Saint Paul United Methodist Church in Woodbridge where dinner is served every Thursday, and free propane tanks are distributed twice a month, campers say.

“The churches around here are stretched pretty thin, and there’s not a lot more they can do than what they are already doing,” said Danny Sanders, who works at the Volunteers of America Chesapeake Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center on U.S. 1.

That shelter is already full and cannot take any of the campers, says the center’s director, Gayle Sanders.

Sanders said she is working with a local church to place one woman who lived in the woods, but it’s not an easy process.

Many others who live in the woods choose to so they don’t have to abide by shelter rules, which include no alcohol consumption.

The wildfire effect
On a very windy day in February, fire broke out in the homeless camps behind K-Mart in Dale City. The wind exacerbated the wildfires, prompting the busiest day for firefighters in Prince William County in more than 30 years.

A 25-year-old homeless man was charged with carelessly spreading fire that day and was given a court summons.

The space where the homeless camps are will become increasing crowded in coming years.

A plan to build the National Museum Americans in Wartime behind the K-Mart store was approved last fall. Now it’s up to the museum’s foundation to raise money for the complex that will feature recreated battle landscapes, and working tanks and airplanes. If all goes to plan, the new museum could open Veteran’s Day 2014.

State Wants Ads at Rest Stops

Advertisements will soon be placed at the rest stop along I-95 in Dale City to help offset operating costs.

Dale City, Va. –– The Virginia Department of Transportation is about to enter the advertising business.

A plan to place advertisements at the state’s 42 highway rest stops and welcome centers was announced Monday by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.

The plan comes after McDonnell last year reopened a string of 33 rest stops closed as a cost-saving measure under the previous governor, Timothy M. Kaine.

Touted as one of the first plans of its kind the country, the advertising program would allow private companies to place signs on the grounds of the rest stops, near vending machines, restrooms, and on highways on the approach to the rest areas.

The governor says 800 million people each year use the state’s highway system providing advertiser’s ample opportunity to extend their marketing reach.

“In these fiscally challenging times, we have to look for innovative new solutions for maintaining and operating the Commonwealth’s rest area and welcome center facilities. These facilities serve a critical role in providing a safe place for travelers to rest and providing information to tourists, businesses, and commuters on the many attractions and services the Commonwealth has to offer,” said McDonnell is a press release.

The idea to place advertising at state rest stops was born last July, when McDonnell tasked state employees to come up with long term strategies to offset the cost of operating the rest stops.

Because the rest stops on Virginia’s highways are located on federally-owned roads, not state-owned toll roads, the state cannot privatize their rest stops as Maryland and Delaware have done. To do so would require a change in federal law.

Woman Faces Underage Sex Charges

Lacy Dashiell Hill faces two counts of carnal knowledge after police say she had sex with 14-year-old boy. (Submitted)

Woodbridge, Va. –– A woman is behind bars charged with having sex with a 14-year-old boy.

Police say 30-year-old Lacy Dashiell Hill had sex with the boy March 9 in the 5500 block of Spangler Lane in Dale City.

She had been having sex with the boy since October 2009, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Hill, who lives in Woodbridge, was arrested on Friday and charged with two counts of carnal knowledge.

Her court date was not released.

Kmart Employee Victim of Pepper Spray

Police in Prince William were busy on St. Patrick’s Day.

At 6:10 p.m. Thursday, police were called to the 17200 block of Wexford Loop in Dumfries, off of Wayside Drive and U.S. 1, for a report of an attempted robbery.

Officers found a 33-year-old man had been assaulted by four men, but nothing was taken from him.

He suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The men were described as black, between 18 and 25-years-old, said Perok.

Later that night at 9:40, an employee at the Kmart store on Dale Boulevard in Dale City was sprayed with pepper spray when that employee went to investigate a suspicious person inside the store, said Perok.

After spraying the employee, the man ran to the front of the store and fled the area on foot.

Nothing was stolen and the victim did not go to the hospital, said Perok.

The man with the pepper spray is described as White or Hispanic, between 20 and 22-years-old, 5 feet 4 inches tall, 140 pounds with a medium build.

He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and a baseball cap.

Slug Changes Focus of Next Town Hall Meeting

Brenda Higgins, a commuter affected by the parking changes at Potomac Mills mall, waits to add her comment at a town hall meeting held in Woodbridge in February 2011. (File)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Commuters will have another chance to be heard this month at a town hall meeting.

Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi and Occoquan Supervisor Mike May will hold commuter town hall at 7 p.m. March 23 at the Ferlazzo Building on U.S. 1 Woodbridge.

Last month, the two leaders held a similar meeting to discuss the loss of 750 commuter parking spaces at Potomac Mills mall. Since then the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge near Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road agreed to lease 350 commuter parking spaces to the county for resident’s use.

“At our last town hall, we heard loud and clear that our commuters wanted parking spaces close to Potomac Mills with enough capacity to slug so their lives were not completely disrupted.   I believe we accomplished this goal,” said Principi.

At the end of the last town hall, many commuters said they would be interested in attending another meeting. This time, officials want to learn more about how commuters are coping with the changes.

“The purpose of the follow up meeting is to update the community as to the logistics of the new First Baptist leased lot, including what bus routes will come through and what slug lines may form.  We will also receive community feedback as to how commuter patterns have changed following the Potomac Mills reduction in spaces,” said May.

Following the loss of the mall parking spaces, Slugs (those who ride in vehicles of three or more occupants to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on Interstate 95 and 395) bound for Arlington were told to begin parking at a commuter lot off Gemini Way in Dale City. Those bound for Washington could still continue to park at the mall’s remaining 250 spaces designated for commuter parking.

Late last month, state transportation officials said construction would soon begin on a $7.8 million, 600-space commuter lot near the existing Horner Road lot in Woodbridge.

The lot will be built on the site of an old commuter bus garage.

Dale City Names Top Educators

Maj. William Brannen

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus
kkotlus@potomaclocal.com

The Dale City Civic Association named three teachers as the area’s most outstanding educators.

Those chosen this year for the Teacher of the Year award teach at Gar-Field Senior High, Beville Middle and Rosa Parks Elementary schools.

Maj. William Brannen, senior instructor of Gar-Field’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program, was named High School Teacher of the Year.

Brannen took charge of the JROTC program in July 2006 and since has seen enrollment in the program double.

Last year, Gar-Field’s JROTC program was recognized by the Marine Corps as a Region Honor School, a citation earned by only 10 percent of the schools in the area, according to a Prince William County Public Schools press release.

In addition to the civic association’s award, Brannen was also chosen by his colleagues as the 2010–2011 Gar-Field Senior High School Teacher of the Year.

As one student writes, “He is a great role model… the thing I will most remember about him is his persistence—the fact that he never gives up. He is someone who believes in the impossible.”

Amy Crotty

Amy Crotty, International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme teacher, family and consumer sciences teacher, and department chair at Beville Middle School was named Dale City Civic Association’s Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Crotty is also on the school’s school-wide discipline team and co-sponsor of the student council association.

Crotty consistently uses varied techniques to reach all learning styles, including a “game of life”, the iron chef competition, and a string of guest speakers to spark student’s interest, school officials say.

In nomination letters from students to the civic association, students mentioned feeling safe in her classes and expressed appreciation for the friendly and orderly environment she provides. A coworker notes “[Crotty] gladly does all sorts of things to make our school a better place to work and learn,” school officials said.

Terri Faulkner, school counselor at Rosa Parks Elementary was named Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Faulkner also leads discipline program, sponsors the safety patrol program, and assists with the Girls on the Run club.

Before students take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests each year, she holds a pre-testing pep rally to inspire children during what can be a stressful time, according to the press release.

Colleagues say she is known for her “fearless” defense of children, and for motivating parents to become involved.

DQ Delays Reopening

Dale City, Va. –– You’re going to have to put your brain freeze on hold for a bit longer.

The Dairy Queen restaurant in Center Plaza in Dale City is being renovated and was scheduled to reopen on March 22.

On Wednesday, we learned the owners of the store have hit some snags in the renovation process and have pushed back the reopening to March 29.

Yes, that’s only one week later than the original reopening date, but for some of us who love the creamy goodness of soft serve ice cream that can feel like an eternity.

Rebecca Visperas manages the restaurant and says the location will reopen as a “DQ Grill and Chill,” offering more menu options for the tired and famished.

Another Dairy Queen restaurant on Smoketown Road in Woodbridge across from Potomac Mills mall is also undergoing renovations.

That franchise is owned by a different organization than the one that owns the location in Dale City, said Visperas.

Page 66 of 67« First...102030...6364656667