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Delayed start for commuter bus service from Dale City, Lake Ridge to Mark Center

New commuter bus service from Woodbridge to the Mark Center in Alexandria is delayed.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission on Monday said plans for new buses between Dale City and Lake Ridge to the Mark Center would start in mid-January, about a month later than originally planned. A new ramp from Interstate 395 to Seminary Road was supposed to have been constructed by this fall, but work continues the ramp, according to PRTC.

The new commuter service will begin as soon as the ramp opens.

Commuters will pay $8.30 for a one-way fare on for the bus, $6.20 if using SmarTrip. There will be four morning and evening trips for both the Dale City and Lake Ridge buses.

The Dale City bus will serve a commuter lot at Gemini Way, and stops along Dale Boulevard before proceeding to I-95. The Lake Ridge bus will serve commuter lots at Tacketts Mill, Minnieville and Old Bridge roads, and the Old Bridge & Route 123 commuter lot before heading north on I-95.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will pick up the cost of the new bus service as a means of mitigating congestion on I-395.

The transit service faces a $9 million shortfall that could hamper existing service by 2017. So far, local officials aren’t talking about it.

PRTC on Monday also announced small changes in service as part of its annual fall service change: 

Manassas OmniRide buses will no longer serve Williamson Boulevard. Additionally, three more AM Manassas OmniRide trips will become express trips, originating at the Portsmouth Commuter Lot. This is in addition to the three express trips on the current AM schedule.

 There will be minor map and timetable changes to some other routes.

New high school to use old floor plan after School Board motion fails

School officials will move ahead with a plan to use a 20-year-old design for the county’s newest high school.

The “13th high school” will be built somewhere in western Prince William County — either at a proffered site at the yet-to-be-approved Stonehaven development or Rollins Ford Road on a site bequeathed to the county by its former owner to be used for parkland.

The new school will cost $73.7 million and is slated to open in fall 2020. The price tag includes $4.3 million in needed improvements to the school building that make it complaint with current building codes, to include vestibules to entrances, and energy efficiency improvements to the roof and HVAC unit.

The school will hold 2,053 students. It is expected to be filled to capacity three to four years after it opens.

Unlike recently built schools like Patriot High School in Nokesvile, and the new Colgan High School to open next year on Route 234 near Independent Hill, the new building will look more like Battlefield, Freedom, Forest Park, and Hylton high schools.

The design is less expensive, and the county School Board resolved to use this design after it was criticized for approving construction of Colgan High School, one of the most costliest ever to be built in Virginia with a $111 million price tag. An aquatics facility and performing arts center are major price drivers for the school currently under construction near Independent Hill.

On November 4, the School Board was tasked with deciding whether to rescind a 2014 decision to use the older Battlefield model for all new high schools, and instead use build a hybrid model minus some of the the bells and whistles of the Patriot and Colgan models, like a smaller auditorium. The hybrid model did include space for 500 more students than the Battlefield model.

The motion to rescind the resolution, put forward by Brentsville District representative Gil Trenum and seconded by Gainesville rep Alyson Satterwhite, failed in a tie vote.

“Based on new hybrid, it would cost us $33,200 per seat… that’s a 22% cost reduction for cost per student,” Trenum.

The cost for using the more expensive model is about $42,700 per seat, he added.

Occoquan District rep Lillie Jessie argued for the smaller model and said the money could be better spent removing children from trailer classrooms at schools in eastern Prince William County and moving them into classrooms inside school buildings. School officials also said the Patriot model offers more windows for natural light.

“I have a real problem with providing more space and more lighting. There are ways to provide lighting in schools without building another model,” said Jessie. “I have 2nd graders in trailers that have no windows. I’m having a real problem with that.”

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts said more than 4,000 new elementary school seats will be added in eastern portion of the county before the 13th high school opens, by adding on rooms to existing schools and with the construction of three new elementary schools.

“It’s not about east vs. west,” said Satterwhite, a direct comment to Jessie. “Let’s drop this east-west garbage. Let’s stop saying you can’t have this because ‘we’ve already approved the plan,’ or that ‘other children have needs.’

“I don’t usualy get mad and my blood pressuer is sky high, please think about our students,” Satterwhite added.

Neabsco District rep Lisa Bell adamantly opposed building another school based on the Patriot design, but she also encouraged the school system to rethink how its constructs its schools. With the number of available new school sites shrinking, Bell urged school staff to consider building three story buildings that take up less space than the required 80 acres needed for a new high school.

The School Board must now wait to see where the new school will be built. A proffered site at Stonehaven could come if the Prince William County Board of Supervisors approves the 1,006-home development in the Linton Hall Road corridor. 

The Board of Supervisors tabled a vote on Stonehaven last year, but School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns said a decision to approve or deny the site could come by January. The opening of the 13th high school would likely be delayed if a site is not chosen by January, he added.

Prince William traffic unit helps keep drivers safe on roads

Traffic is one the most common complaints from those who live around here. That means officers in the Prince William County Police Department Traffic Unit have job security.

The 21 police officers that make up the traffic enforcement unit are easy to spot on their blue motorcycles.

Many times you’ll see posted on the side of the road running speed checks using LiDAR, a device that uses lasers to scan a larger portion of a roadway full of cars coming and going, more so than standard radar speed detection.

The officers in this unit write hundreds of speeding tickets per month. It’s not because they’re avoiding fighing “real crime,” or that they’re trying to “fill a monthly quota” of written speed tickets, as the common misconceptions state. They’re out to keep drivers safe.

“It’s an uneasy feeling to get stopped by police,” said Master Police Officer Steve Bennett, who’s been with the Prince William County Police Department for 17 years.

Bennett sat in an unmarked police cruiser at the corner of Spriggs and Lindendale roads in Dale City. He used a LiDAR detector and scanned the field of oncoming and passing cars.

He picked his spot carefully. By the time drivers reach this spot, they should have been able to see the posted speed signs three times, said Bennett.

“We try to be as visible as possible. We don’t hide behind trees or behind signs,” he said.

Most cars traveled the posted 45 mph speed limit, or just a few mph over. A few cars traveled in packs but barely exceeded the speed limit.

A Prince William County school bus stopped in front of a daycare center, blocked traffic in the right lane while sitting with its yellow flashing lights on for about two minutes before putting on its red lights and discharging a child. Most drivers approaching the bus from behind saw yellow and correctly slowed down but passed the bus. Another approaching driver in the left lane saw yellow lights and incorrectly stopped, briefly halting traffic on Spriggs Road.

The bus and subsequent traffic obstruction wasn’t in the road long enough for Bennett to issue a warning. Bennett sees instances like these, and situations where drivers cut off other drivers by pulling out in front of them, and drivers texting behind the wheel all day long.

But just when he thought this stretch of Spriggs Road was safe, Bennett spotted a white Lexus traveling at 60 mph toward Saunders Middle School.

Bennet first spotted the speeder, and then used his LiDAR detector to confirm the infraction. He pulled into traffic and pursued the driver by putting on lights and siren. The driver pulled over into a right turn lane indicating he was coming to a complete stop, but then oddly pulled back out into the right travel lane and then came to a full stop.

Bennett got out of his car and approached the driver and asked him to pull into the school parking lot up ahead. The driver did.

“I don’t ask ‘do you know why I stopped you,” explained Bennett. “I feel like it’s trapping them into admitting something they did wrong.”

Now with the driver, Bennett showed the digital readout on the LiDAR detector that indicated he had been traveling 15 mph over the posted speed limit. Bennett then came back to the police car where he ran the driver’s license and registration with the help of a radio dispatcher.

Bennett wrote a ticket and presented it to the driver, and he was on his way. He would most likely repeat that process again before the day ends, he said.

Traffic on area roads is often congested, forcing commuters to spend hours traveling to and from work. When it’s moving, the LiDAR tool helps police officers scan the entire width of roads for speeders. It is especially helpful for officers patrolling the wider four and six lane roads in Prince William County.

The LiDAR system looks like a set of binoculars that an officer holds up and points toward traffic. A laser sends out 200 pulses per second across the roadway. Fifty pulses per second bounce back from moving vehicles, and those return pulses tell the LiDAR detector how fast the cars are traveling, said Bennett.

Police cars are also outfitted with traditional radar systems that can indicate the speed of vehicles traveling behind and in front of the officer. These tools, along with visual indicators, help police stop speeders.

When not doing speed enforcement, officers in the traffic unit assist patrol officers when responding to calls for help from county residents, and assist officers and fire and rescue crews called to the scene of traffic crashes.

One of those crashes involved one of their own when Officer Chris Yung on his police motorcycle was struck by a minivan and killed while responding to a call for help on New Years Eve 2012. Yung was the third Prince William officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1970.

Bennett urges drivers to leave the house earlier, to pad a little more “time and patience” into their commute.

“When you leave late, you get into the mindset of beating the clock, and you often say ‘now I’m late.’ I know because I’m the same way.” said Bennett. “But I’ve seen that if I leave earlier, and I know I’ve got an extra 10 minutes, I’m more apt to let someone merge in front of me so we can all get where we’re going.”

Volunteers needed for Dumfries Christmas parade, tree lighting

Volunteers are needed for the Dumfries Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 5, 2015.

The parade will start at noon, and the tree lighting will start at 5 p.m.

Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and have the opportunity to serve the community.

Interested parties should contact Community Services Director Brittany Heine at 703-221-3400, ext 144 or by email Bheine[at]

Dominion backs overhead route for Haymarket power line


Senator Dick Black talked to Potomac Local about Dominion’s decision to urge the placement of a new power line in Haymarket above ground instead of a hybrid option that included a portion of the power line built above ground and a portion below.

“This what we had been worried about, and had rallying people over.
We had greatly hoped Dominion would recommend the underground route along I-66.”

“The battle will shift to the State Corporation Commission, and we intend to continue fighting it all the way all the way through the process.”

Original post

Dominion Virginia Power will petition Virginia’s State Corporation Commission to build an overhead power line in Haymarket.

The power line would run from the intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 234 Bypass) and Interstate 66, down I-66 west to Haymarket. The controversial powerline would impact those living in the Haymarket area, and homeowners said the overhead line would lower property values and create an eyesore for the neighborhood.

Politicians, the activist group Coalition to Protect Prince William County, and residents over the summer argued for a hybrid route that would have placed a portion of the 230-kilovolt transmission line underground, and a portion overhead.

Dominion says overhead power lines are more efficient, have a longer, life, are easier to build and maintain. By building the power line along I-66, the utility plans to take advantage of shared right-of-way with I-66 and to “maximize existing infrastructure.”

Dominion reviewed several alternatives published on its project site but said the overhead plan provides the shortest and most direct route to a newly proposed Haymarket substation.

Dominion says the power line is needed to meet growing electricity demand in Northern Virginia. Senator Richard “Dick” Black and published news reports state the new power line will serve a new Amazon data center to be built in Prince William County.

Dominion held a series of public hearings about the proposed power line earlier this year. The utility will file their proposal with the State Corporation Commission tomorrow. It could take up to 18 months before a final decision is made on where and how to build the power line. 

Here’s more from the Dominion press release:

After receiving extensive feedback from the community, VDOT and VRE, we have made some slight tweaks to the I-66 overhead route from what was shown at the July Open House to address potential pinch points between Dominion, VDOT and VRE. The route now parallels the north side of I-66 for the first three miles instead of running along the south side where the alignment was previously.

Regarding Alternatives in our SCC application:
· As previously presented in our July Open House, the I-66 Overhead/Underground “Hybrid” Route, Railroad Route, Carver Route and Madison Route are presented in the application as alternatives.
· We clearly note that the New Road Route, Northern Alternative and Wheeler Route are rejected options.
· Further details can be found in the application and the routing study once the application is filed and made public.
· We will post the filing to the project page on

Regarding SCC process:
· Once we file, the next steps are:
1. SCC creates a public electronic docket on the case that will be available on its website for Case No. PUE-2015-00107 (we will link to the docket as well from
2. SCC will assign a Hearing Examiner to precede over the case
3. It typically takes about three weeks or so from the time of filing for the Commission to issue an order setting out the procedural schedule, which includes when the public comment period opens and closes, any public hearing dates and locations, when interested parties can formally join the case, when SCC Staff and Dominion testimony is due, and when the Evidentiary Hearing will be held.
4. The entire process could take up to, on average, 18 months for a decision to be rendered by the Commission.

· We cannot thank the many people – residents, public officials, community leaders – enough for their valued input.

Learn what makes a good news story for your business, organization: Join us for ‘1 Million Cups Meets the Media’

1 Million Cups Meets the Media, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

8:30 to 10 a.m. FREE! RSVP Today!

What makes a good news story?

How do I know if a news or features writer would be interested in my story, organization, business, or event?

What is the difference between “earned” media and advertising? Which one is better for me?

Many people who are tasked with getting out the word about events, happenings, and information about their businesses ask these kinds of questions all the time.

When looking for answers it pays to hear about what makes a good story from the editors and publishers of three media organizations in Prince William County.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18  from 8:30 to 10 a.m., please join us for a special edition of 1 Million Cups Prince William — “1 Million Cups Meets the Media.”

This hour and a half session will be a free, informative meeting designed to help you better understand how the local media industry works, and how to get a reporter’s attention.

Space is limited so be sure to RSVP online today.

Joining us will be:







Rebecca Barnes — Founder and Publisher of Prince William Living Magazine







Jason Grant — Communications Director for Prince William County Government,


Uriah Kiser — Founder and Publisher of News

1 Million Cups Meets the Media will be held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center located at 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Free coffee will be provided to attendees.

1 Million Cups Prince William regularly meets at 9 a.m. every Wednesday at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. The meetings are designed to foster entrepreneurs and support the growth of small business in Prince William County and Greater Manassas.

Voters keep Stewart, Anderson to replace May on Prince William Board of Supervisors

stewart, prince william, supervisor


Incumbents keep jobs at county courthouse 

Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart At-large will return for his 9th year on the Board in 2016.

The Republican beat out Democrat challenger Rick Smith for the county’s top job by 14 points, with nearly 57% of the vote. Stewart gained the national spotlight in his early days on the Board of Supervisors for his stance on deporting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

At a debate between Stewart and Smith on Oct. 1, Stewart said he’s softened his approached, and learned its a better way to get things done in the county. Under the Republican, the county has invested more than $1 billion into improving transportation, placed more funding for police officers, and opened two new libraries in the county.

Stewart took to social media and posted a photo of he and his family, and thanked his supporters.

Stewart was first elected to the Board in 2006 to serve as the Occoquan District Supervisor and was elected Board Chairman the following year. Stewart won re-election as Chairman in 2011.


Republican Ruth Anderson was elected the new Occoquan District Supervisor, beating out former Town of Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, a Democrat by eight points. Anderson is the wife of Delegate Rich Anderson, who ran unopposed for his re-election bid for the House of Delegates.

Ruth Anderson replaces Mike May, who decided not to seek reelection to mount a bid for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney. May was defeated by Paul Ebert, who has held the position since 1968.

May posted this to his Facebook page:

The results are all in, and sadly, we came up short by just a few percentage points. The journey we have been on for the past year has been extraordinarily rewarding. I could not have imagined the huge outpouring of support, friendship, and love that we have received from people all over Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Amelia and I will forever be grateful to the hundreds of people who have helped us both in large ways and small during this campaign. You have all been a blessing to us.

I congratulate Mr. Ebert on a victory well won, and wish him the best in his new term in office. As I finish out these next few weeks as a member of the Board of County Supervisors and beyond, I look forward to finding new ways to serve our great community, and to seeing each of you again.

With Anderson’s election to the Board, the re-election of Republican Maureen Caddigan, of the Potomac District, and Democrats John Jenkins, of the Neabsco District and Frank Principi, of the Woodbridge District, the political make-up of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will remain the same: Five Republicans and two Democrats.

Supervisors Marty Nohe, Coles District, Peter Candland, Gainesville, and Jeanine Lawson, Brentsville — all Republicans — ran unopposed and will keep their seats.

Caddigan’s Democratic challenger Andrea Bailey lost her bid to unseat the long-serving Republican by 535 votes. Democrats say it’s a sign of a shifting political makeup of the Potomac District, which includes Montclair, Southbridge, and Dumfries and Quantico towns.

Principi remains cemented in his heavily Democrat-leaning Woodbridge District, defeating Republican challenger Steve Chapman by 32 points.

While Pual Ebert remains Prince William’s Commonwealth Attorney, Michele McQuigg will keep her job as Clerk of the Court. The Republican beat out attorney Jacqueline Smith, a Dumfries attorney, by a narrow margin of four points.

Sheriff Glen Hill also ran unopposed and will keep his job guarding the Prince William County Courthouse.

Great fall recipes from Manassas Olive Oil

Fall is here! Check out some of these recipes from Manassas Olive Oil Company!

Tuscan Herb Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing beats a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold day. But ditch your can – this soup recipe is going to make you look forward to those cold and rainy days. Recipe courtesy of KBCulinary.


2 large carrots, peeled – quartered then sliced

2 stalks celery, stalks halved, then sliced

2.5 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 pearl onions, peeled and quartered

1/2 C spring onions, chopped (the green stems)

3-4lb chicken thighs

3 pinches Manassas Olive Oil Co. Rosemary Sea Salt

~3/4 Cup Tuscan Herb Olive Oil

Herb de Province (amount to personal preference)

Parsley (amount to personal preference)

80 oz chicken broth

Egg noodles (amount to personal preference)

Generously coat chicken thighs in Tuscan herb olive oil, herbs, and sea salt mixture and bake at 350 until internal temperature of 165, allow to cool and pull meat from bone.

In stock pot cook carrots and celery in butter for 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to get a good coat of butter on vegetables. Add garlic, pearl onions, spring onions, one pinch Sea Salt, and ½ cup Olive oil, Herb de Province and parsley; cook for five minutes stirring every 60 seconds. Add broth and cover until just to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Add meat and one pinch sea salt to soup base after 30 minute simmer time, and increase heat to bring to SLOW boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add egg noodles and cook for eight more minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.

For an additional compliment, add some crostini. Slice sourdough baguette, drizzle with flavor infused olive oil and dried herbs. Bake on shallow baking pan at 350 until crisp.

Autumn Kale and Quinoa Salad



It’s tough to get in a healthy meal. This salad will make you actually enjoy kale for a change! Packed with nutrients, easy to make, and has a nice seasonal flair.


2 cups raw, peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2″ cubes.

2 cups prepared quinoa, cooled

1/2 cup Manassas Olive Oil Co. Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup shaved Pecorino

6 cups washed, dried mixed greens or baby kale

Pinch of sea salt


1/2 cup +2 tablespoons Gremolata Olive Oil

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons Grapefruit White Balsamic

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons mustard

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl whisk the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of balsamic. Add the cubed butternut squash and toss to dress with olive oil and balsamic. Place the butternut squash in a single layer in a pan or on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until the squash becomes golden brown. Allow to cool.

In a blender or food processor, add all of the dressing ingredients. Process to combine well, and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Combine 1/2 of the butternut squash, quinoa, and kale and arrange on a large platter or in a large shallow salad bowl. Add some dressing and toss to combine. Add the rest of the butternut squash over the top, sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds, and add shaved Pecorino.

Serves 6-8

Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes



Truly a treat, and a compliment for any dish you make this season!


4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

1/3 cup Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic

2 tablespoons Butter Olive Oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt


Heat oven to 400F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a half sheet jelly-roll pan.

Thoroughly shake or whisk together the Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic and Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In a large bowl toss to liberally coat the sweet potato wedges with the emulsified balsamic-olive oil mixture.

Arrange the potato wedges on the parchment paper lined pan in a single layer, without over-crowding. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 45 minutes until tender and the balsamic glaze has caramelized.

Chips 4 Charity: Fabulous food, dancing, prizes, top-notch games at Harbour View in Woodbridge

On November 13, 2015, the Woodbridge Rotary and the Greater Prince William Health Center will host its 4th annual ‘Chips 4 Charity’ event.

Chips 4 Charity, a casino night, being held as a vehicle for raising funds for its two host organizations, is the largest community fundraiser for each. For the health center, proceeds will go to fund special programs within the center, providing care for uninsured families in our community. For Woodbridge Rotary the proceeds will fund such organizations as Good Shepherd Housing Foundation, The ARC, Project Mend-A House and The Boys & Girls Club among others. In the last 3 years, Chips 4 Charity has funneled over $75,000 in funds into the community through the organizations it supports. 

Harbour View in Woodbridge is decked out in its finest by our professional casino operation. The food is fabulous. There’s dancing, prizes and of course top notch gaming handled by dealers that make the evening a high energy, engaging event even for non-gamers. Our dealers will teach you everything you need to know to enjoy several types of gaming including poker, Texas hold’em, roulette and blackjack for all skill levels.

Since its inception, Chips 4 Charity has been a huge success thanks to support from key players Harbour View Event Center and Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ and our many sponsors and community attendees. We would not have been able to grow this event to its current stature without all of those entities coming together. Don’t worry though- We still have plenty of room on the sponsor banner for your logo and we’d love to have you involved!

Some people love to go all out in their formals and tuxes and we know some don’t, so attire for the event ranges from cocktail dresses to khakis.

Harbour View is our beautiful venue located at 13200 Marina Way in Woodbridge, right on the the Occoquan River. When you walk into the casino room and all the curtains are open overlooking the marina the tone is already set for a magical night. 

Remember: your sponsorships are still welcome! And even if you don’t sponsor, Come on out and spend a great evening supporting your community!

How you can volunteer to help Manassas Park Trunk-or-Treat

As an avid volunteer in the community myself, I can’t emphasize enough how important volunteering is. As a citizen you discover what a difference you can make in the community.

You’ll meet new people, create a positive impact in your community, and make important connections to help you in your personal and professional life. Businesses can also benefit from volunteering. Aside from meeting potential customers businesses grow their brand and reputation.

When thinking of what a community is, it’s easy to imagine distinct and isolated categories, but in truth a community is comprised of citizens, the local government, small businesses, and local non-profits. We’re all in this together so when we work towards a positive change in our community it has a resounding impact for everyone no matter how small the effort may appear.

Fortunately in the Prince William County area there are a plethora of non-profits and organizations looking for volunteers. CASA, Project Mend-A-House, Rainbow Riding Center, the Red Cross, PFLAG, the Independence Empowerment Center, Comfort Cases, Final Salute, the Arc of Prince William, SERVE, the Haymarket Food Pantry, and the Matthew’s Center are just a few that immediately come to mind. To simplify efforts, you can contact Volunteer Prince William to see which organizations have a pressing need for volunteers.

The City of Manassas Park’s Department of Parks and Recreation is always looking for volunteers as well. From helping us maintain the parks, to participating in our various committees, to having extra hands to run special events, there exists a multitude of volunteer opportunities.


The next special event we’re hosting is Trunk or Treat. This event provides a safe place for families to trick or treat while also offering crafts, activities, hayrides, and a moon bounce. To make this event a huge hit we need help from the community. Volunteers can bring their decorated vehicles and pass out candy and other treats while also dressing in costumes. Businesses and non-profits are welcome to promote themselves while participating. The more businesses and citizens that volunteer as vendors the more exciting the event becomes for the children.

Whether you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity or you’re a family looking for a safe place to celebrate Halloween, we hope you’ll join us for Trunk or Treat on Saturday, October 31st from 5:30pm-7:30pm. It’s free for volunteers to participate as vendors. If interested, prospective volunteers should email Tony Thomas at

This post was written by Jason Shriner. 

Prince William Board opposes VDOT taking Heflin Farm for commuter lot


Prince William County urges parking decks over commuter parking lots 

Jeanie Heflin will sleep a bit better tonight knowing local officials don’t want to see the demise of her farm.

Now she and her husband wait to see what the Commonwealth Transportation Board does — the group in Richmond that could decide to turn her 80-year-old farm in Haymarket into a commuter lot to serve Interstate 66.

“It would destroy our farm,” said Heflin. “The parking lot would cut across the middle of our land, and would couldn’t graze cow in the parking lot.”

The Prince Wiliam County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting this morning to draft a resolution to oppose the commuter lot being located on the Heflin Farm, located on Antioch Road. The resolution will be sent to the Virginia Department of Transportation — they agency that notified the Helfin’s they wanted to take a portion of their property by eminent domain.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board meets tomorrow, October 27, where they will review the resolution.

If built, the commuter parking lot would be one of several new improvements to I-66 outside the Capital Beltway, from Route 15 in Haymarket to I-495 near Tysons Corner. Two new toll lanes are planned, along with new commuter bus service, and new and expanded park and ride lots.

Prince William County transportation officials say they have urged VDOT to built parking strucutres instead of commuter lots. As the land in the county has gone up in value, the county stands to lose more in tax revenue if that land is used for a single commuter lot, they said.

A parking structure costs nearly double what it would cost to build a commuter lot – between $15 and $20 per space. But a parking deck would lead to better, more urban development in a given area, they add.

A portion of Heathcote Boulevard in Haymarket would be extended to Antioch Road as part of the VDOT commuter lot plan. The extension of the four-lane road would better serve users of the commuter lot, as well as provide direct access to Novant Haymarket Medical Center, county transportation officials said.

The Heathcote extension was removed from the county’s long-range plans by the Board of Supervisors. Only recently did VDOT put the road project back on the books to the surprise of residents.

“How did this end up on a map that no one had seen,” asked Elena Schlossberg, a Prince William County resident.

Heflin met with VDOT officials at her property Oct. 23. She said the meeting went well, and that officials told her the agency tried to locate the proposed commuter lot on two other properties in the area, but the landowners opposed.

Heflin said VDOT identified her property for the emindent domain in June but said she didn’t find out until Sept. 2.

“To want to take our property and not tell us up front… it’s illegal…it’s offensive,” said Heflin.

VDOT continues to look at all of their options in the corridor, and no final decision as to where the commuter lot will be located has been made, spokeswoman Michelle Holland told Potomac Local on Oct. 22.

I-66 inside Beltway toll plan unpopular at town hall

Republican state legislators said Northern Virginia residents are being treated like the state’s “ATM” for a plan to toll all lanes of Interstate 66 inside the Beltway.

Republican leaders from Richmond and locally elected GOP leaders in Prince William County gathered on stage Oct. 22 for a town hall meeting at Battlefield High School in Haymarket to protest the Virginia Department of Transportation Plan plan backed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“These tolls will affect the value of your home and the number of businesses that will locate here,” said Delegate Robert G. Marshall.

All four lanes of I-66 inside the Beltway would be converted to toll lanes from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m., and 3 to 7 p.m. daily as part of the plan. Drivers would use an EZ-Pass, as drivers on the I-495 and I-95 Express lanes do, to electronically pay tolls of up to $17 per day starting in 2017.

Initially, cars with two or more occupants would ride free on the toll lanes with an EZ-Pass, but a change in the rules expected by 2017 would require vehicles with an EZ-Pass to have three or more occupants inside the car to ride free. I-66 is currently the only Interstate highway in the U.S. that allows vehicles with just two our more occupants to use HOV lanes.

Buses would ride the lanes for free at all times. VDOT says the plan would move 40,000 more people in the corridor, and raise cash for much-needed transit improvements along the corridor to include new commuter bus service, more park and ride lots, and new “last mile” improvements such as bicycle paths from Metro stations to allow more people to walk or ride a bike from the train to the office.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane penned a letter to Potomac Local stating that doing nothing to improve traffic congestion along the I-66 corridor is not an option.

The plan comes after the General Assembly in Richmond passed landmark transportation reform in 2013 that raised the state sales tax in Northern Virginia, and would generate some $880 million in new transportation revenues statewide. It was the first transportation reform bill passed in 27 years, and was heralded by the state’s then Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican.

“We passed [House Bill 2313] in 2013, and it was presented to us as a piece of legislation that would fund all of these needed transportation improvements,” said Delegate Richard Anderson, a Republican who voted gainst the bill. “And here we are back here with the state asking for more money.”

Unlike like toll projects on I-495 and 95 that are privately managed and maintained by Australia-based Transurban, the I-66 project was not shopped out to private firms as a public-private partnership. VDOT plans to construct electronic toll gantries inside the beltway to collect tolls. The agency also plans to add two new lanes to I-66 outside the Beltway, from I-495 to Route 15 in Haymarket, which will also operate as toll lanes 24 hours a day, in a configuration that mirrors toll lanes on I-495 from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road.

Democrats oppose the plan, too.

“This is not a partisan issue, ” said Don Shaw, who is running against Robert G. Marshall for the 13th District House of Delegates seat. “We need [Virignia Railway Express] to Haymarket, bus rapid transit lanes on I-66, and we need to explore an extension of Metro.”

Lane’s editorial stated I-66 inside the Beltway would be widened after the new toll lanes are implemented, but only if “necessary.” Those who choose not to pay the tolls would be forced to use arterial roads Routes 29 and 50.

Residents who spoke at the meeting complained that taking a transit bus from Manassas to Tysons Corner, to federal job hub of Mark Center in Alexandria can take more than two hours one way. Others said it is nearly impossible to find a group of people to carpool with due to the lack of a major, popular online ride matching website for area commuters to use to pair riders with drivers.

“You’re going to toll me for the pleasure of going to work where I make income, and then you are going to tax me on that income anyway,” said Morris Davis, who bought his home in Haymarket 10 years ago with the promise that Virginia Railway Express would be extended to the town. He’s still waiting.

Others said VDOT’s plan to add “last mile” improvements like bikepaths would only benefit Fairfax County residents.

“We don’t need bike paths. We don’t use them to get to D.C., or to Tysons because it would take too long,” said Prince William resident Kim Simons. “And we’ve got the [Manassas] Battlefield in the way, so the Department of the Interior would need to decide if we need a ‘battlefield bypass’ for bikes.”

VDOT officials held a series of public hearings on the plan to toll I-66 inside the Beltway. Construction on the project is expected to begin in Spring 2016, and toll collection could start in 2017.

Great Halloween trick-or-treating options offered at 5 Prince William Shopping Centers

Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.

Bristow Center in Bristow, Bull Run Plaza and Davis Ford Crossing in Manassas and Dillingham Square and Potomac Festival 1 and 2 in Woodbridge will offer kids the chance to trick-or-treat store to store for candy and other goodies.

Each event will feature balloon artists and face painters. Merchants will also host sidewalk sales, contests and giveaways. 

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Bristow Center, located at the intersection of Nokesville and Linton Hall roads, features Harris Teeter and CVS/pharmacy. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bristow Center on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. The shopping center is owned by BLJV, LLC. 

Bull Run Plaza is located at the intersection of Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive in Manassas, and includes Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Office Depot and Chili’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bull Run Plaza on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Davis Ford Crossing is at the intersection of Liberia Road and Prince William Parkway in Manassas. The center features L.A. Fitness, Petco and Staples. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Davis Ford Crossing on Saturday, Oct. 24 from noon to 2 p.m.

Dillingham Square is at the intersection of Old Bridge Road and Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge.   The center includes Food Lion, Gold’s Gym and Brittany’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Dillingham Square on Saturday, Oct. 31 from noon to 2 p.m. The shopping center is owned by Old Bridge Retail Investments, LLC. 

Potomac Festival includes businesses on both sides of Potomac Mills Road and features hhgregg, Buffalo Wild Wings, Staples and Savers. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Potomac Festival on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Rappaport provides property management, leasing and marketing services for the centers.

Special session of Prince William Board of Supervisors to address I-66 commuter parking lot

stewart, prince william, supervisor


The special meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. 

Original post

Chairman Corey Stewart will call a special meeting of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to discuss plans to build a commuter parking lot on a county farm.

The meeting is expected to be held Monday, ahead of a vote by Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board on Tuesday that could direct VDOT to claim eminent domain over a portion of a The Cedars Farm owned by Jeannie and Carl Heflin. The farm is located on Antioch Road in Haymarket and sits in the Prince William County “Rural Crescent” urban development boundary that limits development to one home per 10 acres.

Stewart intended to draft a letter from the Board of Supervisors to Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubry Lane, noting that Board was against the state taking the property for a commuter lot. Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Princpi notified Board members by email asking the letter by sent by Stewart only and not from the Board of Supervisors because the governing board had not yet met to discuss the matter.

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland said VDOT should choose another property in his district, other than the farm, to house commuter parking. The Supervisor said the construction of a more expensive commuter parking deck on a property zoned for commercial development vs. a traditional parking lot is a smarter idea, and it could also serve future development in the area.

“It’s an antiquated idea to build another commuter parking lot as we have them today,” said Candland. “You might as well have a horse and buggy out there waiting to pick up commuters when they get back.”

Prince William County is home to the state’s largest commuter lot — the Horner Road lot in Woodbridge which has 2,363 parking spaces, according to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission website.

VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Holland said the agency is reviewing all possible options for a new commuter lot in the area, and that the agency has not made its final decision where it will build the lot. Transportation officials plan to meet with the Heflins today to discuss the matter, she added.

“We want a site that makes fewer impacts on properties, and one that sill serve to get people on and off I-66 quickly,” said Holland.

Jeanie Heflin said VDOT notified her family 44 days ago they intended to take a portion of her farm that’s been in the family since 1936. The farm continually raises cows, hogs, and crops, and will be left to the Heflin’s children upon their passing. 

“Today is our first face-to-face meeting with VDOT since we received the letter notifying us they wanted our property,” said Heflin. “We’ve been kept in the dark, and we just want to know what is going on.”

The commuter parking lot is part of a larger project to add new commuter parking facilities to the I-66 and expand old ones. The project, called “Transform I-66 Outside the Beltway” also calls for adding two new lanes to the highway between the Captial Beltway and Route 15 in Haymarket, and tolling those lanes.

The configuration of I-66 outside the Beltway would look similar to I-495 from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road. Four lanes in the center of the highway would be electronically tolled using EZ-Pass, and cars with an EZ-Pass transponder and three or more occupants inside, and transit buses would ride free.

I-66 is the only interstate in the U.S. where cars with two occupants are permitted to use the HOV lane, said VDOT’s Amanda Baxter. The HOV requirement would change to HOV-3 by 2020 as part of the new “outside the Beltway plan.”

VDOT’s “Inside the Beltway” plan calls for electronically tolling all four lanes of I-66 between the hours of 5:30 and 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Cars with an EZ-Pass and three or more occupants would be able to use the lanes free, under the proposal.

Haymarket – Gainesville Community Library opens to cheers

Gainesville and Haymarket have a new community library.

Hundreds gathered Thursday for a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the new Haymarket-Gainesville Community Library on Lightner Road, just off Route 15.

The newly constructed 21,734 square foot building is the first new large community library to open since Bull Run Regional Library opened in September 1994.

“This is a dream come true for me, and this a dream come true for the community,” said Mary Jo Rigby, who serves on the Prince William County Board of Library Trustees, and is credited for being a tireless advocate for the construction of the new facility. “I want to thank those who worked at the old library in tight conditions, and some unusual circumstances.”

The new $11 million structure replaces the old Gainesville Neighborhood Library, located at James S. Long Park, that opened in 1987. That library closed its doors for the final time on October 1.

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The Haymarket-Gainesville Community Library is one of two new community libraries opening in Prince William County this year. A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new Montclair Community Library located at 5049 Waterway Drive in Montclair, near Dumfries, will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29.

Each of the new libraries will be outfitted with $1.5 million in new materials, to include books and DVDs. The Haymarket-Gainesville Community Library has 33 new computers, three community rooms, a large meeting room, a quiet study, and WiFi access throughout the building.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman, At-large Corey Stewart said the county’s growing population demands more county services like libraries. The county is building these two new facilities to meet demand while other localities in the U.S. opt not to build new libraries, he added.

“Some ask, ‘why build new libraries when Google can give you 10,000 answers?’ Only a librarian can give you the right one,” said Stewart.

Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland said the new library will be a “hot spot” for students working on homework, seniors, and for those looking for information on community resources.

Construction on the Haymarket – Gainesville Community Library began in July 2014.

Chinese travel to Manassas to learn about local government

When delegates of the Shaoxing Yuecheng District in China were looking for an American local government to learn from, they selected the City of Manassas.  

On Oct. 20, 2015, the City of Manassas hosted five members of the Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation from China.  Vice Mayor Way and City Manager W. Patrick Pate put together a team of senior staff to speak to the group.  The group heard from the Chief of Police, Voter Registrar, Treasurer, City Attorney and the Purchasing Manager about local government processes and transparency in government.

Members of the delegation were impressed to learn that the Manassas City Police Department is in the top one percent of police departments internationally as evidenced by their current CALEA rating.  Delegates asked questions as to which agency, out of the Federal government, state or local governments were responsible for the different aspects of government, such as elections and public safety.

At the end of the event, members posed for a group photo.  Members from the City of Manassas include City Manager W. Patrick Pate, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way, Purchasing Manager Jimmy Falls, Treasurer Robin Perkins, Voting Registrar Ann Marie Bausch and Director of Economic Development Patrick Small.  The Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation included Mr. Jin Quanhai, Vice Secretary, CPC Yuecheng District Committee of Shaoxing City, Mr. Chen Jirui, Town Chief, Yuecheng Lingzhi Town People’s Government of Shaoxing City, Mr. Wang Yin, Director, Yucheng Fushan Sub-district Office of Shaoxing City, Mr. Zhao Xiongwei, Deputy Director Shaoxing City Yuecheng District Economy and Information Technology Bureau, and MaChao, Secretary, CPC Yuecheng Chengnan Sub-district Committee of Shaoxing City.

Will this solve the design dilemma for Prince William County’s 13th high school?

There is a compromise in the works for a the design and layout of Prince William County’s 13th high school.

School Board Chairman At-large Milton Johns delayed what was going to be a vote Wednesday night on the new school building that will be located in western Prince William, either in a new development called Stone Haven or on a site on Rollins Ford donated to the county that was to become a park.

“The more I reflected on the issue, the more I was concerned that we needed more time for the public and [School] Board members to weigh in on the matter,” Johns told Potomac Local.

The decision was a stark departure from Monday when Johns told Potomac Local a deciding vote on the matter would be made at Wednesday’s regulaly scheduled 7 p.m. School Board meeting.

The School Board has been wrangling, once agian, over what design to use when building a new high school, despite resvolving in 2014 to use a 20-year-old, modified Battlefiled High School design in all future high schools, over the newer model used for Patriot High School and the soon to open Charles Colgan High School.

The School Board took a lot of grief from residents when Colgan High School, with new aquatics and performing arts facilities included, became one of the costliest high schools every to be built in Virginia.

A new plan put on the table by school division staff is a revised hybrid model — a scaled-back version of Patriot High School.

The plan includes increasing the 2,053 student capacity at the new school by about 380 students. The capacity will be the same if either the Battlefield or original Patriot models are used.

The architecture of the hybrid building would be simpler than the original Patriot design, the roof flat, and the auditorium would hold 400 fewer people for a capacity crowd of 800.

The hybrid model savings amount to a $6.2 million savings, according to school board documents. The building would be $7.2 million more to construct than the Battlefield model.

“I think this great compromise between keepiong most beneficial features with Patriot design, also by increasing the school’s capacity,” said Johns.

Occoquan School Board member Lilly Jessie said she was still reviewing the plan and did not want to comment prior to the meeting.

The School Board meeting will go on as planned Wednesday, Oct. 21, but a vote on the high school design is not expected until the next meeting on Nov. 2. School staff urged the School Board to make a decision on a design in October to avoid delaying the 13th high school slated to open in 2020.

Woodbridge Supervisor candidate vows to provide better customer service if elected

Editor’s note: This promoted post is paid for by Chapman for Woodbridge Supervisor

A small business owner says his customer service skills would  come in handy in local government if elected Woodbridge District Supervisor.

Steve Chapman, candidate for Woodbridge District Supervisor, shows energy and enthusiasm when speaking about his plans to bring Woodbridge together as a address everyday “streetlight” issues in area neighborhoods.

While knocking on doors and speaking with Woodbridge, Chapman heard from residents who said they wanted “better customer service” from a locally elected official.

“I understand the important roles small businesses play in partnering and connecting. I started my small business, Wash My Deck, during my junior year at Woodbridge High School,” Chapman said.

He is still running the company 21 years later. Growing a small has taught him the significance of quality customer service, he said.

If elected, Chapman will use his previous small business experience to become a successful Woodbridge Supervisor. Small business ownership and Woodbridge Supervisor skills correlate, as he would be responding to, championing, and being an advocate for all constituents in both situations.

Throughout his campaign, Chapman has talked to thousands of Woodbridge residents at their doors, including Jaqueline Meyer asked Chapman for a recommendation on a roofing company to repair her roof. She wanted to prevent water damage to her home during the torrential rainfall at the end of September.

“The reason I contacted Steve was because he is very well connected in the area and has lived here a long time. I’ve lived here for eleven years. I’m busy commuting from work, so I don’t have anybody [to recommend businesses],” Meyer said.

When asked about the qualities she’d like to see in the next Woodbridge District Supervisor, she said she’d like them to be honest, hardworking and sincere.

“I’m glad she reached out. This is what a supervisor should be. Someone who is trusted and brings people together to work on building the community,” Chapman said.

Meyer reaching out to Chapman is an example of how he wants to be thought of if elected. He wants to be trusted by the community to represent the district fairly, passionately, and thoughtfully.

“People need services such as plumbing, painting, roofing and car repairs.

If we solicit services from local Woodbridge companies, we help our families and our neighbors,” Chapman.

Chapman has specific plans to put his words into action. The candidate plans to vet businesses to make sure they have the proper licenses and insurances.

Additionally, he would like to create referrals of local businesses for Woodbridge residents, should they need a service. This will provide citizens with options they can trust

“A devotion to seeing local business flourish by connecting people with companies and each other will ensure a safer, stronger Woodbridge,” said Chapman.

Chapman has also orchestrated community events to connect residents and neighbors. Earlier this spring, Chapman organized a community Easter egg hunt that attracted over 250 children at Veterans Memorial Park in Woodbridge.

“Communities should make residents feel included, protected, and provide a chance for residents to be heard,” said Chapman.

This post is written by Sarah Katzenstein, a second year undergraduate student at George Mason University. She is majoring in Communication with a focus in Public Relations.

Video of Prince William County School Board Chairman Debate

Potomac Local sponsored a debate Monday, Oct. 12, 2015 featuring three candidates for Prince William County Public School Board Chairman. 

The candidates are Tracy Conroy, Ryan Sawyers, and Tim Singstock.

The debate was hosted by the Dar Al Noor Islamic Community Center on Hoadly Road near Dale City, Virginia. 

The video was shot and edited by Bill Golden with the Coles District Civic Association.

These upcoming events help you celebrate ‘Spooktacular Manassas’

Now that the leaves are starting to take on red and auburn hues and the morning air feels crisp – it means it is time to celebrate fall in Manassas! From the annual Fall Jubilee to creepy cemetery tours, there is something going on every weekend in the City. There is no better place to celebrate autumn and Halloween!

The 2015-16 season of the Manassas Ballet Theater starts on Oct. 23 with the show “Jazz in Motion,” which combines ballet with contemporary and classic jazz standards. Show your tickets to several downtown restaurants and receive a dinner & a show discount! See the complete list online. Hylton Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $15.

Take a guided tour of the Spirits of Manassas on Oct. 24 and trace the stories of the weird and sublime. Hear about historical figures who once passed through town, including authors Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe, The Gray Ghost (John S. Mosby) who spent time at the old Opera House, and learn about strange incidents along the railroad tracks – including a ghost cow! Tours start at the Manassas Museum on the half hour from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $15/adults; $7.50/kids 12 and under.

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Join the last bicycle tour of the season on Oct. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m. Explore historic areas around Manassas with fellow cyclists. See historic homes, the only remaining earthwork constructed in 1861 by Confederate soldiers, and more. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $5.

Swing by Haunted Happenings on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon for family fun. Activities will be held in the Center for the Arts parking lot. Kids can decorate their own pumpkin and participate in a costume contest before heading into downtown businesses for trick-or-treating. 9431 West Street. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Hurricane Joaquin threatened to rain out the Annual Fall Jubilee, so it was rescheduled for Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Browse cool crafts, play games, pick out a pumpkin, and enjoy live music and dance performances. Enter pumpkin pie baking and eating contests or the cornhole tournament. Manassas. Free.

Follow the Headless Horseman to the Pied Piper Theatre company’s production of Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. and  at 3 p.m. Metz Middle School. 9950 Wellington Rd. Tickets start at $11.

Don’t miss taking a tour of the Manassas City Cemetery, which dates back to the 1860s, on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Manassas is not a quiet little town where nothing ever happens! Listen to tales about the City’s most notorious figures, gory murders, criminals behaving badly, and crossed debutantes. Manassas City Cemetery at 9317 Center Street. Buy tickets at the Manassas Museum, online, or by calling 703-368-1873 – $5. (These stories are not meant for children’s ears!)

Follow the trail of balloons downtown to businesses displaying artwork by local featured artists during the Fall Gallery Walk on Friday, Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Get a jump start on your holiday shopping and support patient care at the Holiday Bazaar at the Novant Health Prince William Medical Center on Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse handmade and one-of-a-kind items – see the website for a list of vendors. Medical Office Building, 8700 Sudley Rd., 14th floor. Free.

Join your fellow community members at the Greater Manassas Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stop by a downtown coffee shop and settle in along the parade route along Center Street to celebrate area Veterans. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Don’t forget the farmer’s market continues to be open on Thursdays in the Harris Pavilion and Saturdays in Parking Lot B from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up your favorite fall staples before grabbing lunch nearby.

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