Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Dumfries Local

Council Lady Refrains from Meetings after Air Violin Accusations

Dumfries Council Lady Kristin Forrester was absent from Tuesday’s Town Council Meeting.

Dumfries, Va. –– An elected official was absent from the Dumfries Town Council meeting Tuesday.

Council Lady Kristin Forrester was out of town on business, but confirmed she would no longer attend closed sessions during scheduled council meetings.

Recent reports indicate the council lady is fed up with behaviors that happen behind closed doors, some of which were alluded to during Tuesday’s meeting by Councilman Tom Foreman.

“Where does anyone…on this council get the right to question someone’s education? Where does anyone on this council get the privilege to make fun of, or question someone’s accent? The berating, yelling, and playing of sarcastic air violins has no place in public or in closed sessions,” said Foreman.

He went onto say the closed meetings often drift off topic, are filled with unnecessary gossip about town employees, and that there has been closed-door discussion about impeaching Forrester, or severely limiting her abilities on the council for choosing not to attend closed session meetings –– where the town’s legal matters are often discussed.

Mayor Fred. E. Yohe pointed out it’s illegal for him to discuss what’s said in closed session, but also adds it’s the first time he’s heard of impeaching Forrester.

“What we talk about there is consistent with what we say we are going to talk about, I would vote lets go to the record because when we’re there we always vote on what we said we are going to,” said Yohe.

One of Forrester’s former supporters, and current Dumfries Council Lady Dorthea Barr, says if Forrester doesn’t want to attend closed sessions perhaps she should consider another line of work.

“It’s rare that two people are going to think exactly alike, but these things that are being discussed will affect the town for the next 30 years. Maybe she shouldn’t have run in the first place,” said Barr.

While it’s not imperative that Forrester attend closed session meetings, Barr says the council is made of up seven people so that any tie vote an easily be broken.

Dumfries Library Closed

The Dumfries Community Library will be closed tomorrow after fire broke out on its roof Thursday.

The electricity to the building has been cut off as crews make necessary repairs to the building, said Prince William County Public Libraries spokeswoman Mary Fraraccio.

The library is normally closed on Fridays and Sundays and open Saturdays, but it’s not expected to reopen again until Monday.

The fire’s cause was determined to be electrical, and damaged contained to the roof.

There was no serious damage to the interior to library, said Frarccio.

Slide Show: After Explosion, 3 Rush to Save Victim

Jose Toro Ortiz, Jerry Glynn and Elizer Ortiz Rodriguez ran into a home after it had exploded to pull out a man still that was still inside.

Dumfries, Va. –– While everyone else stood in amazement after a house in Dumfries exploded Monday, three neighbors led the charge to pull out a man who was trapped underneath the rubble.

A home under renovation at 19117 Wayne Drive exploded about 8:15 a.m.

When rescue crews arrived, they said there was a major smell of natural gas in the area.

Crews shut off the gas and quickly learned that not only was the gas the cause of the explosion, a man that had been inside the home had already been pulled out.

“We ran in and yelled ‘is there anybody in there,’ and we heard something so we said ‘man, you got to keep talking to us so we can find you,’” said 22-year-old Jose Toro Ortiz.

He and two others, Elizer Ortiz Rodriquez and Gerry Glynn, who all live in the neighborhood, rushed into the demolished home after they heard the explosion and found the 45-year-old man still trapped inside.

The blast rocked the neighborhood, leaving windows on adjacent homes blown out, pieces of rood and wood on neighbors’ cars and debris in the street.

While inside the remnants of the home, Ortiz said he saw some boards move and that’s when he knew someone was still alive.

“Hey, we got him up here!’ I shouted,” said Ortiz.

The three men pulled the victim from the rubble and helped him outside of the home.

Ortiz said man was dazed but was able to walk out of the rubble.

The victim was flown to a hospital with burns and trauma to his chest. Fire officials said he is expected to make a full recovery.

Ortiz said he didn’t think much before taking action; it was just something he felt he had to do.

“I hope I did a good thing,” he said.

Anderson Eyes 52nd District

Cleveland Anderson

Dumfries, Va. –– A familiar face in Dumfries business will make his first run for the General Assembly.

Cleveland Anderson is expected to announce Friday in s press release he’ll seek the republican nomination for Virginia House of Delegate’s 52nd District.

Anderson earlier this month told he was considering a run for what would be a newly shifted political district in the Potomac Communities, the 2nd House District which would include portions of North Stafford, Quantico and Woodbridge.

According to Anderson’s website, the aspiring politician owns Vincent and Vincent Hair Salon on U.S. 1 in Dumfries and has raised his children in Prince William County.

Anderson’s biography states he’s a life-long Virginia resident, as well as a realtor and managing partner of the shopping center that his hair salon is located in.

The man who won the House of Delegates seat in 2009 in the adjacent 51st District, Richard Anderson, says he doesn’t think having another Republican with the same last name running in the next district next to his will be a problem.

“Voters are smart, and they are articulate, and they will easily be able to tell the difference between me and Cleveland. They’ll also know that Cleveland has his own ideas about what’s best for the 51st,” said Anderson.

If another Republican candidate steps forward, Anderson would have to face him or her in a primary election August 23.

Right now, there have been no other Republican’s who have expressed interest in challenging Torian, a popular Democrat and pastor of the First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries.

This story has been corrected. This election season marks the first time Cleveland Anderson has run for political office.

Potomac to Replace Dumfries?

Dumfries, Va. –– Nestled within Prince William County is the Town of Dumfries, and so is the Dumfries Magisterial District – an area that has nothing to do with the town at all.

On Monday, county leaders will have the option to change the name of the Dumfries District to the Potomac District, a name that’s fitting because the district sits along the Potomac River.

You see, Dumfries is a small town with its own mayor and town council ¬¬–– each are elected by the residents of the town.

Prince William’s Dumfries District is headed by Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, who serves the residents who live in neighborhoods outside the town’s boarders, like Brittany, Montclair and Southbridge.

The name change option comes as officials are wrangling with the mandated redistricting process, where every 10 years political boundaries are redrawn to accommodate –– in Prince William’s case –– population growth.

After some residents last week appeared at a public hearing to voice concerns about the newly drawn maps, Prince William Supervisor Marty Nohe drew a new one and on it proposed the Potomac District name.

“The Board was getting a lot of feedback from citizens who thought it was confusing that we had a Town of Dumfries and a district called Dumfries, with many people having problems telling people they lived in the Dumfries district but not in the town,” said Nohe.

While he doesn’t know if the Board will approve name change, he drew the new map with the blessing of Caddigan who in the past has fielded questions from many confused residents, said Nohe.

Caddigan could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

But there are some who don’t want to see the name of the district changed, like Dumfries Vice-Mayor Nancy West. She’s first opposed to the name change because Dumfries, as Virginia’s oldest charted town, says the name is backed with historical significance.

She also just plain doesn’t like the idea.

“Another reason for my opposition to the name change is that we have too many things with the name “Potomac” –– a high school, a hospital, a shopping mall –– we don’t need another Potomac anything,” said West.

Other notable changes on Nohe’s map: The Town of Occoquan is once again included in Prince William’s Occoquan District (other maps under review have placed the town in the Woodbridge District), the Neabsco Creek again becomes the diving line between the Neabsco and Coles districts, and that it only has seven magisterial districts as opposed to eight as shown on some other maps that have been presented during the redistricting process.

Creating an additional district would cost taxpayers $1 million, officials say.

The final redistricting plan for Prince William will be voted on Monday.

Final Act for Dumfries Blockbuster

The Blockbuster Video store on U.S. 1 in Dumfries is closing.

Dumfries, Va. — Call it a sign of the home entertainment times. The Blockbuster Video store on U.S. 1 in Dumfries is closing, leaving behind what once was a destination for those who opted to watch a movie and eat a bowl of popcorn at home.

The last day for the store to open is April 10, and employee told us, and while you can no longer rent movies and video games there you can buy them.

When you walk in the door, previously viewed films in paper covers sits near the front of the store. Each sells for $3.99. Titles that come in cases are 2 dollars more.

The store’s closing comes about two weeks after the company announced it would be sold for $290 million. During the sale, the company’s stores would continue to operate as normal.

A Blockbuster Video store remains open in North Stafford, as do stores in Woodbridge, Lake Ridge and Dale City.

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.

Parking reduction could force commuting, work changes

There are several commuter lots in the Woodbridge area.

Rhonda Reed is looking to cut her losses and move north because of the lack of effective commuter parking in Woodbridge.

Though she lives in the Virginia suburb she works in Friendship Heights, Md., just north of the Washington, D.C. line.

Use our interactive map of commuter lots in the Potomac Communities that could provide a you a parking alternative to the Potomac Mills mall commuter parking lot.

She leaves her house each weekday morning by 6:45 a.m. to get to the Potomac Mills mall commuter lot by 7:15 a.m. to get a parking space, before the lot becomes full. (more…)

Church could ease parking woes

(File) An OmniRide commuter bus bound for Dale City stops at 14th Street and New York Avenue in Downtown Washington and picks up about 20 passengers as slugs looked on.

Woodbridge, Va. –– Commuters that will be forced from the commuter lot at Potomac Mills mall could soon park at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge.

The church is considering leasing to Prince William County up to 500 parking spaces in their 700-space lot for commuters to use on weekdays.

The church, with a 1,250-member congregation, sits at Minnieville and Elm Farm roads just off Prince William Parkway and stands to benefit financially from the deal.

“This is a deliberative process for us when we are considering annexing a large amount of spaces for commuter parking, and we also have to think about the impacts of our ministry,” said First Baptist Church of Woodbridge Executive Pastor Frank Johnson. (more…)

Fewer parking spaces got you bummed? You have options

OmniLink switch buses at the Potomac Rappahannock Transportation Center in Woodbridge.

Woodbridge, Va. –– The expansion of the Horner Road commuter lot in Woodbridge may provide some relief for commuters that will no longer be able to park at Potomac Mills mall.  But it won’t come fast enough to help those who will be put out on February 14.

Potomac Mills announced Thursday it would curtail commuter parking in their lots by 75 percent beginning Valentine’s Day. Afterward, mall managers suggested putout commuters take the bus.

But that may not be an option for many who would board OmniRide commuter buses near the mall, as nearly all of those early morning buses are full. (more…)

D.C. forces slugs from 14th Street

An OmniRide commuter bus bound for Dale City on Tuesday stops at 14th Street and New York Avenue in Downtown Washington and picks up about 40 passengers as slugs looked on.

Washington –– Tensions rose Tuesday afternoon when Lake Ridge commuters were told they could no longer slug from a busy street in Downtown Washington.

About 15 slugs – commuters who ride in cars of three or more passengers so they can use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on Interstate 95 and 395 – were handed fliers from the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation, stating they could no longer stand and wait to be picked up on 14th Street, between H Street and New York Avenue.

The slug line will be relocated one block over, to the less-congested 15th Street, the flier stated.

The change, which officials say will be a two-week trial as they look to see if traffic flow on 14th Street improves without drivers stopping to pick up slugs, came as a surprise for many who now fear they’ll be left without a ride home. (more…)

Dumfries body identified as homeless man

Dumfries, Va. –– The body found behind a Dumfries shopping plaza this week is that of a homeless man.

Kenneth Michael Hostetter, 66, was found behind a closed restaurant in the Triangle Shopping Plaza on Wednesday.

Investigators told News & Messenger they do not suspect foul play, and that the body was so badly decomposed police had to bring in a forensic anthropologist to identify the remains.

Those who had met Hostetter said he was a man of very limited financial means. (more…)

New fire station logs 55 calls

Woodbridge, Va. — Dumfries Triangle Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, along with Prince William County opened their newest fire station on Sept. 11.

Since then crews at the station on River Ridge Boulevard in Woodbridge have been responding to emergency calls.

During its first week, through Sept. 17, fire and rescue crews responded to 55 incidents.

“The River Oaks Station 23 is filling a void area for fire and emergency medical services.  The station is providing relief to fire and rescue stations in Woodbridge, Dumfries-Triangle, and Dale City that previously responded to this area, said Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin J. McGee.

Those emergency calls were placed by residents who live within the station’s “first due” area, which includes River Oaks, Southbridge, Wayside Village, and Port Potomac.

Officials anticipate crews at the station will respond to about 5,000 incidents each year.

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