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News
High winds bring power outages: The latest numbers

High winds across the region tonight brought power outages to thousands.

Here’s a look at the numbers as they stood at 10 a.m. Sun., Feb. 15.

Here’s the latest  outage numbers from Dominion Virginia Power:

Arlington 17
Fairfax 3,790
Fairfax City 14
Fauquier 1,332
Fredericksburg 0
King George 554
Loudoun 204
Prince William 196
Spotsylvania 5
Stafford 554

Report an outage to Dominion

Here are the numbers from NOVEC

Fauquier 0
Fairfax 5
Prince William 147
Stafford  29

Report an outage to NOVEC

News
Prince William Flag flies half-staff until Tuesday

Retired Prince William County Deputy Finance Director Bill Hoffman passed away at his home in Catlett on Thursday.
Hoffman spent 33 years serving the residents of Prince William County.

The county’s flag that bears the Prince William County seal flew at half-staff outside the county’s McCoart Government Center on Prince William Parkway on Friday. It will remain at half-staff until Hoffman’s funeral service until Tuesday night.

Here’s more information contained in an email from county spokesman Jason Grant:

The County Executive has ordered that the County Flag be placed at half-staff until conclusion of the Tuesday, graveside service for Mr. Hoffman.

Since the flag has already been placed at half-staff in memory of John Henry, instead of being raised at the conclusion of his memorial service at the end of the day on Saturday, it will now remain until Tuesday evening, February 17, 2015.

John Henry also served county residents as the director of finance for the jail. 

John Henry, former Director of Finances of the Prince William County/Manassas Adult Detention Center, passed away on Feb. 9.  Bill Hoffman, former Assistant Finance Director, passed away on Feb. 12. Both men retired after many years of service to the county.

It is rare to fly the county flag at half-staff by itself. Usually, a U.S. President or Virginia’s Governor orders the U.S. Flag or Virginia Flag, respectively, to be lowered, and the county flag is lowered alongside it.

The county’s flag is usually lowered when a member of the county’s public safety service dies in the line of duty, or when a long-serving public servant or official passes away, as is what happened in this case, said Grant.

Historic Downtown Manassas has 14 new shops, eateries, and new apartments on the way

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More new shops, restaurants opening in Historic Downtown Manassas

The City of Manassas and its downtown development partner, Historic Manassas Inc., have been gradually moving away from referring to Old Town in favor of the moniker Historic Downtown Manassas. This helps to avoid being confused with that other “Old Town” in Northern Virginia.

But in this case, the title seems to resonate because the City is welcoming a host of new businesses to its historic district.

Over the past 12 months more than 16 new businesses have opened or announced their intent to relocate into the Virginia Main Street Community. As 2014 drew to a close, the City had already welcomed new retail outlet Records and Rarities; professional office users Caitlan Jordan, Attorney at Law, and SCS Integrated Support Services; personal services provider the Man Cave; and restaurants the Bone and Zandra’s.

In January a regional favorite, Malone’s, expanded to offer consumers a more casual dining and bar area on the second floor to complement the fine dining experience locals and visitors have grown to love.

Beginning late last year, a series of announced closures by long-time business owners in the Historic Downtown Manassas left development officials scrambling to identify new business prospects. They need not have worried as the City proved both its resiliency and attractiveness to entrepreneurs who are rushing in to fill the spaces being vacated. 

“What really happened was a generational opportunity for a new wave of small business owners to realize their dreams of opening or relocating their businesses in our Downtown. In many instances these spaces are some of the most attractive and high profile storefronts available,” City Manager Pat Pate told the Old Town Business Association.

A number of business owners obviously agree. Historic Downtown Manassas has recently announced that new business openings are pending by retail operators Scatter Seeds, a purveyor Fair Trade goods and local artisan products, Amy’s Bridal (formerly of Woodbridge), Manassas Olive Oil and Totally Vintage Design (formerly of Haymarket); raw bar and restaurant CJ Finz and ice cream parlor Jitterbug will join the crowd as will CutRate Barbershop and the NEW School.

In addition, and proving that Manassas is becoming a living destination of choice in addition to a retail and dining mecca, two new urban style apartment projects have been approved which will bring almost 200 new studio, one and two-bedroom luxury units into the Historic Downtown.

Economic Development Director Patrick Small and Historic Manassas Inc. Executive Director Debbie Haight say there are still a few opportunities left for new businesses that may have missed the initial rush to open. One of these, the site of the former Opera House Gourmet, is possibly the most desirable retail location in the City.

Located diagonally across Center Street from Harris Pavilion, it is the most prominent and highly visible storefront as people enter Downtown. Small and Haight say this and the few remaining retail spaces still on the market won’t be vacant long. In fact, several confidential business announcements are pending.

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas under a marketing agreement with Potomac Local.

Bull Run Rotary Day is Feb. 21 at the Capitol Steps Concert for charity

Rotary Day is typically a fun, informal event to introduce the community to Rotary and their local beneficiaries.

Rotary Day is not just for a club or district. There are National Rotary Days in many countries and even an International Rotary Day at the United Nations. The Rotary Day events convey the Rotary’s relevance and highlight the good work and involvement.

The theme for Rotary International, this year is “Light Up Rotary” so there is increased effort this year to illuminate the great things that Rotarians facilitate. This year is also the 25th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Manassas Bull Run, so there is extra pride in this year’s Bull Run Rotary Day.

This year’s Bull Run Rotary Day will be on Feb. 21 at the elegant Hylton Performing Arts Center and is called “Love and Laughs.” It is on the eve of Rotary International’s 110th Anniversary and just a week after Valentine’s Day for those couples that couldn’t make a date night. The evening entertainment will feature DC’s Capitol Steps.

Purchase your tickets online.

They couldn’t solve the graphics problem in house, so JTC used their expansive network to find a solution

  • JTC, Inc.
  • Address: 9720 Capital Court, Suite 305, Manassas, Va. 20110
  • Phone: 703-794-1225
  • Website: http://www.jtcinc.net/

An architectural firm relies on graphics. When they can’t access them, that can be a problem. 

Alexis Peck is the Vice President of Design at Peck Peck & Associates, an architectural firm located in Woodbridge, Virginia that has been in business for 42 years.

Peck also heads the marketing and IT department and is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Peck Peck and Associates needed Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. (JTC, Inc.) to assist them with the recovery of data, lost from corrupted hard drives.

Peck explained in detail the entire process.

“We had a couple of backup hard drives for some graphics of ours from archive projects and one day when we tried to access the backups, all of the actual hard drives had been corrupted,” said Alexis Peck. “I’ll note that it was not equipment that we bought through JTC, it was something we bought years and years before they came on board and so we contacted them to see if they could help us recover the data….”

JTC, Inc. was unable to solve the problem in-house and reached out to another company for extra assistance.

“…Through JTC we worked with another company and sent the hard drive out and they were able to recover some of it (not all)…” said Peck. “It wasn’t any client information or anything like that, it wasn’t anything critical to our operations, it was just something we wanted to keep for nostalgic reasons.”

Though the other company was located out of state, Peck said overall experience was very easy.

“We did everything through JTC so they came, picked up the hard drives from us. We paid everything through them, they took care of everything.”

Peck also noted that without JTC, Inc.’s network, they would not have known what company to contact. 

Peck Peck and Associates have worked with JTC, Inc. for over four years and originally chose JTC, Inc. for two reasons:

1. JTC, Inc. had been recommended by the previous company Peck Peck and Associates employed for their IT services

2. JTC, Inc. offered the best agreement to their firm

JTC is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Authorized Partner and utilizes Microsoft and Dell technology.

The preceding post was written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Jewell Technical Consulting.

Traffic
Public hearings set for proposed VRE fare increase

Virginia’s only commuter railroad says it needs to raise fares by 4% to pay for increased operations costs. Virginia Railway Express is giving its customers a chance to weigh in on the proposed increase at a series of upcoming meetings.

The transit agency says riders can find more about the fare increase on its website.

Here’s a list of upcoming meeting dates, times, and locations:

Date  Location  Time
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Stafford County Government Center Board Chambers, 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554 7 p.m.
Thursday, February 19, 2015 Holiday Inn [L’Enfant], Congressional 1, 550 C. Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20024 Noon
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 Burke Centre Conservancy, “The Commons” Community Center, 9837 Burke Pond Lane, Burke, VA 22015 7 p.m.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Crystal City Marriott, Lincoln Room, 1999 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202 Noon
Thursday, February 26, 2015 Manassas City Hall, City Council Chamber Room, 9027 Center Street, Manassas, VA 22110 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 P.R.T.C. Board Room, 2nd Floor, 14700 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA 22192 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 5, 2015  Fredericksburg City Hall,715 Princess Anne Street,Fredericksburg, VA 22401
7 p.m.

Capitol Steps show proceeds to benefit ‘Calling All Souls’

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

The Capitol Steps are coming to the Hylton Performing Arts Center, and proceeds from the show will go to help Calling All Souls, a group that provides a helping hand in our community. 

Anyone living knows that life is not easy. It becomes harder when we lose our jobs, have to escape an abusive situation, and have to take care of a loved one. The mission of Calling All Souls (CAS) is to provide relief and restoration for families and individuals who are in the midst of life’s overwhelming situations.

They do this by providing goods and services donated by our community and delivered by our volunteers. These acts-of-love are anchored in the messages of Jesus Christ and by bringing both, we want to bring Hope where there may be none. And also show those whom we support that by Faith and with Love we can all overcome adversity. Our vision is driven by God’s word and founded in the verse “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.” – Hebrews 13:16”.

The goal

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton Center, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors.

These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place to be proud of. They cannot do it alone!

Order tickets online from the Hylton Performing Arts Center or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event, please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by February 10.

New shops, homes, high citizen satisfaction rates: The state of Manassas is Great

business, development, location

Manassas Mayor Parrish highlights the City’s many successes in 2014

Recently, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II delivered the State of the City of Manassas address.  The address was delivered in a video message to city residents. In his address, Mayor Parrish welcomed new businesses to the city, like El Cactus, Don Lencho, The Bone, Fire House Subs, Zandras and the Olde Town Man Cave. He also spoke about expanding businesses including Heritage Brewing, Bad Wolf Brewing, Fauquier Bank and a few others. 

Mayor Parrish spoke about the many family friendly events held in the city, Manassas City Public Schools and the summer camps held by the Fire and Rescue and Police Departments for Osbourn High School Students. He talked about the citizens group who asked that City Hall be named in honor of Mayor Marvin Gillum and how their civic involvement and community spirit led not only to raise funds for the signs, but funds for the upkeep of those signs as well. 

Mayor Parrish talked about the City of Manassas’ first Citizen Satisfaction Survey held in 2014. The survey set a baseline for future surveys and will help determine priorities in coming years. This survey is available at www.manassascity.org/css. One of the findings of the survey was that city staff ranks 20 percentage points higher than the national benchmark in customer service.

Mayor Parrish also spoke about economic development for the City of Manassas including the hiring of a new Economic Development Director and a greater focus on business attraction, retention and expansion. In closing, Mayor Parrish said, “For those who appreciate independence and access, the historic City of Manassas enjoys a strategic location in Northern Virginia where Old Town charm combines with a new city spirit so you experience a sense of place, a sense of community and a sense of opportunity.  To watch the State of the City in its entirety, visit www.manassascity.org.

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

News
Mike May kicks off run for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney

Mike May officially kicked off his run for the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

May, an attorney at Albo & Oblon, L.L.P. and currently Prince William’s Occoquan District Supervisor, looks to unseat the long-serving Paul Ebert, who’s been in office since the late 1960s.

May gave an exclusive interview with Potomac Local late last year on his intentions to become the county’s top prosecutor.

Greeted by friends and supporters on Saturday, May outlined his vision for the office.

“It’s time to modernize the office, and I look forward to laying out our vision for improving accountability, oversight and transparency,” May stated in a press release. “We will face many challenges in this effort, but with the community’s support I know that we can make a positive difference for our citizens.”

A lifelong Northern Virginian, May grew up in Springfield, Virginia and has resided in Lake Ridge since 2001.  He lives with his wife Amelia, and their three children, Leo, Natalia and Marina. 

May has been an attorney at Albo & Oblon, LLP for the past nine years.

News
Lawson Supervisors’ office stays put at Innovation Park @ Prince William

Jeanine Lawson ordered her new business cards that she’ll hand to constituents showing that she is the Brentsville District Supervisor.

The printed office address on those cards is Innovation Park @ Prince William – the development that has become to embody Prince William County’s economic expansion efforts. It’s home to biotech firms, and George Mason University’s Prince William Campus, and now to Lawson and her staff.

After winning a Special Election in December, Lawson was moved into offices inside “Innovation” park. It’s space that’s leased by the county and has been used by its public works division.

Lawson could have left the office space but ultimately decided to stay put. Her decision will save taxpayers an estimated $200,000 or more – money that would have been spent on a new office space for the Supervisor.

“I just didn’t the expense was justified,” explained Lawson. “This is property the county is already leasing.”

The Supervisor has requested some minor improvements to her office space, to include a new kitchenette. The work has yet to be completed, and county officials told Potomac Local they don’t yet have cost estimates for the work.

Keeping the office at “Innovation” will allow more of the constituents who visit with Lawson and her staff to see the development, she added.

Former Brentsville District Supervisor Wally Covington had his office located at the old Prince William Courthouse, next to the current courthouse. The office, now occupied by staffers at the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, sits in the doughnut-shaped circle of property belonging to Prince William County, carved out of Manassas City.

Lawson is finishing the term of former Supervisor Wally Covington, who is now a judge in the Prince William County Courthouse. She will hold the office until November when she’ll seek reelection to a full term.

Hilarious, heartfelt: ‘Laughs and Love’ — A night you will remember!

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

Updated 

On Saturday, May 23, don’t miss Bull Run Rotary’s Laughs and Love benefit, at the beautiful Hylton Center featuring the Capitol Steps.

Why laughs and love? Here’s the love:

One of the greatest benefits of business ownership is being able to be part of give back to our community. Those who have faced hardship are struggling and in need.

Washmydeck.com is a seasonal business. We have a small fleet of vehicles that get lots of use eight months of the year. This leaves four months that where we can use our vehicles to help families in need have reliable transportation in order to help them work and get on their feet. We just look at it as doing a small part, with the resources we have.

Bull Run Rotary is doing it BIG by celebrating five hero organizations whose hard work day in and day out enriches the lives of those around us.

On one night, we set an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 to help abused children find security, battered women feel safe, families who have had hardship achieve the American dream of home ownership, and help feed our neighbors who live in tents in the woods.

Please help Bull Run Rotary in supporting CASA, Calling All Souls, Habitat for Humanity of Prince William County, Transitional Housing BARN, and Therapeutic Riding Rainbow Center, it promises to be a night to remember.

Oh yeah, there will be laughs!

Have you seen the hilarious Capitol Steps? They put the MOCK in Democracy with their song parody of political current events. The night will also have some surprise big VIPs. Regardless of your political leanings this is sure to be a night you will be talking about for some time.

Purchase tickets online at the Hylton Performing Arts Center box office.

See you there,

Steve Chapman, Founder, and President Washmydeck.com

News
Top ranked Stonewall girls loss won’t hinder teams’ vision

Stonewall Jackson High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team’s most recent and first loss of the season to the Battlefield Bobcats was unexpected, to say the least.  

The Cardinal District team is ranked number one in the Washington Post’s “All Mets” section of high school sports and a team who boasted a 20-0 record prior to the game that took place on Tuesday. The loss briefly demonstrated a flaw in the Lady Raiders’ fortress.

“We came out each quarter fast and then slowed,” states Head Coach Diana Martinez.  “Our kids played hard and fought to get back into that game, but, unfortunately, the ball went the other way.”

Any team with a 20-game win record can’t stay down for long.  

“We are family,” said senior and guard, Rachel Burns.  “They [the team] are like my sisters.”  

And with that simple, yet powerful statement, the Raiders march on — their final destination, an opportunity to play and win the Virginia State Championship.

The Lady Raiders have an arsenal of coaching weapons at their ready.  Coach Martinez is a former Woodbridge Senior High School player.  Graduating in 2003, she went on to play Division II basketball at St. Andrew’s University (formerly, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College) located in Laurinburg, N.C.  

Upon her graduation, she coached for a year at her Alma Mater, later moving back to Prince WIlliam County and becoming an assistant coach at Woodbridge Senior High School.  

An open opportunity and the urging of friends landed her at Stonewall High School coaching the girl’s basketball program. (more…)

News
Prince William School Board ire follows lower revenue projections, possible full-day kindergarten cuts

Some members of the Prince William School Board don’t want to see cuts in full-day kindergarten. This year’s budget picture, however, could make those cuts a reality.

The Board last night gave Prince William Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts some direction on how to best go about finding needed cuts in the division’s 2016 budget.  This decision met resistance from board members who said that they would not approve of cutting full day kindergarten.

They want more funding for increased salaries for employees and a decrease in class sizes. Prince William has some of the largest classroom sizes in the Washington area.

School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns clarified that the cuts were not something they wanted but a situation they had been forced into when a promised 4% increase on county property tax bills was dropped to an anticipated 1.3% growth rate.  This translates into an $11 million cut for Prince William schools, which does not account for increased costs related to the growth of the county’s school system.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors sets the tax rate, and will ultimately decide how much the average property tax bill will increase next year by late this spring.

Johns also addressed constituents’ claims that money used to build $10 million dollar swimming pool at the county’s soon-to-open high school on Hoadly Road would be better served elsewhere. He said no checks have been issued regarding to the pool.

“We have underpaid teachers and overcrowded classrooms whether we build the pool or not,” Milton said.

In regards to cutting full day kindergarten, Milton said, “No one has been more committed to full day kindergarten than I have been, but at the same time we are in a very bad situation and there are only so many places in our budget where we can get millions of dollars at a time.  We’re at the point where we can’t continue to offer the same school system if we continue to not stick with 5 year plans for more than one year.”

After Neabsco District Board member Lisa Bell suggested the new proposal, Potomac District Board member Betty Covington spoke out against cutting full day kindergarten.

“I will not, under any circumstances, cut full day kindergarten,” Covington said.  “Having been an elementary school principal, I know how important it is to get these youngsters into full day school as soon as possible.  Today’s kindergarten is what first grade used to be.”

Occoquan District representative Lillie Jessie agreed.

“I can not believe there is no outrage about cutting full day kindergarten,” said Jessie, who broke down what the tax increases would be for each household.

Under the 1.3% property tax increase, yearly costs would be $49 in comparison to a $149 increase under the 4% growth, she said.

“I don’t play politics with kids,” Jessie said.  “I think you go back to the Board of Supervisors and tell them to keep their word.”

Woodbridge District Board member Loree Williams called for her constituents to voice their concerns, both to the board members and to the Board of Supervisors.

“We have to work together, it’s the only way to solve this problem,” said Williams.

On Feb. 23, there will be a schools budget meeting open to the public.

*This story has been corrected.

News
Prince William Eco Park to include solar plant, adding to landfill energy production

eco park 2Wednesday, Prince William County held its first two meetings for stakeholders to discuss the transformation of the county’s landfill into a community resource.

The Eco Park will consist of an interpretive science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) education center that will give the students the chance to get hands-on experience working with environment conservation and other related topics.  The center will also support a research center for  use by colleges and universities, visitor programs that include tours, and a variety of other resources that allow the community to interact with the environment.  Plans to explore additional energy and recovery technologies are also part of the plan for the Eco Park.

The park will co-exist with the landfill, which will continue to be used as a gas energy plant which already generates 6.7 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 5,000 homes, according to officials.

The landfill has been a gas well since the late 1990s and has provided cost-free energy for surrounding structures such as the school bus garage and animal shelter.

“The lights in this building are probably being powered by the landfill,” said Tom Smith, Solid Waste Division Chief for the Department of Public Works.  “And it doesn’t even smell,” he added.

In addition to the education center, there are plans to add six or seven gas wells, expected to last an additional 30 years at the least.

Some stakeholders present at the meeting were in full support, but some expressed concern over how the project would be funded.  Smith said it is expected to cost $3 to $5 million.

“We are looking for partners to make this building a reality.” Smith said.

“If someone’s willing to give us a lot of money, we’ll name the building after them” he quipped.

Smith said one of the challenges of building the center was to do all of it without increasing any fees.  He spoke passionately about his vision for the Eco Park.  

“We’re trying to take a landfill, something that is usually negative, and turn it into a positive,” he said.

One stakeholder asked if the vision would continue if Smith retired.  Jokingly, Smith assured him that he would die before retiring from the project.

A trail with education stations is expected to be started this summer, in addition to completing negotiations for a 5 megawatt solar energy project project to be built, which would power all the buildings on site.  Depending on grants and private partnerships, finalization of the Eco Park building plan should begin in 2016.   

The ground on which the landfill sits is large and will also include 383 acres of forested land that acts as a buffer zone surrounding the entire land, a compost facility, the solar panels from the solar energy project.

6 tips for good health from Mary Washington Healthcare

Dr. Vranian’s Quick Tips for Good Health

1. Minimize meat consumption

2. Avoid “white” foods — Foods that have had the shell of the grain removed

3. Eat plenty of colored vegetables

4. Stay away from saturated fats, like heavy dressings and sweets

5. Exercise 30 minutes/day at least 3 – 5 days per week

6. Find some thing or somebody to love

– by Dr. Robert Vranian, Cardiologist, Mary Washington Healthcare

News
Candland wants new meeting on Haymarket power line

The potential construction of a 230kBV transmission power line and substation in Haymarket has caused controversy and concern for Prince William County residents.

The project, overseen by Dominion Power, will help generate enough power for an incoming data center, although County officials would not confirm if Amazon would operate the data center.

According Dominion Power, this infrastructure project is a necessity for the area’s ongoing growth.

“This new transmission infrastructure will address forecasted increases in energy demand that exceed the capabilities of our current distribution system beginning in 2017,” said Dominion Power on their website.

Depending on the route ultimately approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), the project would add around 6 miles of power lines.

Several routes have been proposed, with most of the community’s concern stemming from potential routes that cut through private property in the Haymarket area.

Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland sent out a letter about his concerns with the routes being proposed by Dominion Power.

“…the Commission is required to determine that the line is needed and that the corridor or route the line is to follow will reasonably minimize adverse impacts on the scenic assets, historic districts and environment of the area concerned. Dominion Power has publicly proposed a number of route options that fail to take those considerations into effect, and there is only one routing plan that reasonably factors in those requirements that we believe the Commission should consider. We endorse the “Hybrid Route” that partially buries the power lines along I-66,” Candland stated in his letter. 

Candland also called for another public hearing in a larger venue where more residents could express their concerns, referencing an earlier meeting at Battlefield High School, hosted by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) and Senator Richard Black (R-Leesburg). 

The meeting was held at the beginning of January, and around 1,000 residents came to speak about the project.

A community group was formed, named the “Coalition to Protect Prince William County”, that has been actively working to stop the project, erecting signs speaking about the project on major roadways.

Dominion Power plans to speak to the public about their thoughts for the best route, and then submit their application for the project to the SCC after the first quarter of 2015, according to their website.

 

 

KO Distilleries opening in the City of Manassas

KO Distilleries

On Jan. 29, KO Distilleries, a new business in the City of Manassas, opened their doors for a “keel laying.” This is a nautical term for the start of a ship’s construction and is appropriate for this business as both owners are graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II as well as other City Council members, business owners and residents were onsite to welcome this new industry to the City of Manassas. KO Distilleries, located at 10381 Central Park Drive, will manufacture, store and sell distilled spirits, including bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, gin, vodka and rum. The distillery will have a visitors center for tours, tastings, merchandise sales and special events.

Owners Bill Karlson and John O’Mara will open their doors in the spring of 2015. This is only the 19th distillery in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is on the forefront of an emerging industry trend. Historic Manassas, Inc. helped the City and KO Distilleries with the event and many members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new owners as members of the Chamber.

manassas-ko-distillersmanassas-ko-distillers2

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

Help CASA save children at Capitol Steps comedy show

All proceeds raised for show help CASA, other area organizations 

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

The Capitol Steps are coming to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Feb. 21. Its’ a show organized by the Bull Run Rotary Club in Manassas, and a sell-out show will raise funds for organizations helping our neighbors in need. 

Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, is one of those organizations helping children in Prince William.

CASA Children’s Intervention Services has been appointed to and worked with over 3,000 abused, neglected and abandoned children in Greater Prince William since 1994.

More than 150 specially trained advocates gave over 20,000 hours to help insure that nearly 500 abused children, before the court, are kept safe, are provided needed services to overcome the impact of their maltreatment and have all they need to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong. CASA investigates, monitors, reports and is a special friend to child victims who have been beaten, starved, burnt, raped, trafficked, born drug exposed, imprisoned in their homes and more. CASA advocates providing hope, help and advocacy for these hurting children. According to a report by the Attorney General, children with a CASA spend less time in foster care, receive more services, are less likely ever to be reabused and are more likely to be adopted if they cannot return home.

CHILDREN STARVED, ABANDONED Cassie lived in fear that she would starve, she was 4. One day Cassie did not get dressed quickly enough. Cassie’s mom told her she could not have any food that day as punishment.

Mom made her sit and watch as she prepared and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner for herself. The longest she remembered not eating was 3 days. It was reported, the court appointed a CASA for Cassie. Mom told the court she did not want Cassie anyway.

The CASA advocated for help for Cassie. She lived in fear of not surviving and not being loved. The CASA visited this child, every week for over 2 years, met regularly with her service providers and foster parents, advocated at all the hearings, and worked to help insure a successful adoption where she was asked by the adoptive parents with whom she had worked so closely to be Cassie’s Godmother.

CHILDREN RAPED A mother had some evidence that her three year old child had been sexually molested by her new husband. The advocate began an investigation for more information which took her by phone to six states and uncovered eight previous girlfriends or wives, whose children had allegedly been sexually assaulted by this same man. Some were never proven in court, for lack of sufficient evidence, and therefore not on record.

Finally, in one state, her investigation found a mother who had discovered this man in bed with her 12 year old daughter and had successfully prosecuted him. She found reports of this man’s regular presence outside a local school and his picking up a young girl to take her home.

This information, not previously known to the court, helped to keep the child in Prince William from further harm as the man fled the state and was later asked for by a neighboring state as they sought to prosecute him for offenses in their state.

CHILDREN BORN SUBSTANCE EXPOSED Two children were removed from their parents. The parents were drug abusers whose last child was born substance exposed and who were reported several times for being under the influence for days at a time leaving their 3 year old to fend for himself. The parents took the children from their placement and disappeared.

Weeks passed and they were not found but there was serious concern for their safety. The advocate journeyed from door to door following lead after lead to help find the children. After three weeks of diligent searching, he found them hiding with the children in a shack in the middle of debris with no electricity, running water or heat for the cold winter weather. The advocate alerted police and the children were safely retrieved.

CHILDREN BEATEN When a Prince William child, severely physically and mentally disabled from severe physical abuse, was moved to a facility in another state, the presiding Judge was very concerned that he could not be certain how the child was doing when he was so far away from the court that sought to protect him. The advocates, a husband and wife team, at their own expense, traveled each month to the institution to visit him.

Well after the court was involved, the couple continued to be the only “family” the young man had still visiting on his birthday, Christmas and several other times each year.

The goal

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of. They cannot do it alone!

Order tickets online or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by Feb. 10.

Traffic
Move over 95 Express, toll lanes wanted on I-66

New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week

There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.

Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.

Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.

“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.

A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.

After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.

New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope

As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.

“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.

In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’

Land sits in the way

VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.

The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.

State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.

Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.

News
How Prince William schools stack up, on average, for teacher pay

Neighboring counties pay entry-level teachers more

As the Prince William County School Board gears up for another budget cycle, it is timelier than ever to look closely at an important topic in local education – the current state of teacher pay in the county.

The average annual teacher salary, according to Jim Livingston, the Prince William Education Association president is $60,408 – a figure he pulled from a 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education  (WABE) report.  

Phil Kavits, spokesman for Prince William County Public Schools, stated that the average annual teacher salary in the county is a bit higher than Livingston’s figure at $61,525.

These averages are worth noting when considering a quick drive to the surrounding area school divisions can greatly alter the average salary that a public school teacher receives.

“The only school division that is lower in average teacher salary in the area is Manassas Park. The other [counties] are at least $2,800 to $3,000 more than us. For example, if you cross over to Fairfax County…that’s a $7,000 pay increase based on the average,” said Livingston of the county’s low pay-average.

Kavits stated teachers in nearby Fairfax County average $66,782 per year, and a Loudoun County teacher receives an average of $63,013 per year.

“The reasons that the salaries remain low, particularly at the entry level – that’s where we have the greatest difficulty – is quite frankly that our neighbor [counties] around us have simply determined that it’s in their best interest to try and attract the very best [teachers] that they can. And frankly, we’ve simply just not kept pace…” Livingston said.

The county’s School Board is facing a $20 million budget deficit. On Feb 4, it will meet to discuss some possible ways to fix the problem by proposing new cuts to the division’s billion-dollar budget. The cuts come as county leaders propose a lower tax increase of 1.3% than the original planned 4% hike in property taxes. 

Things like transportation for specialty programs at middle and high schools, and full day kindergarten in non-title one schools are all things being eyed by the School Board as items to slash from the budget.

Teacher pay raises, however, are not, according to School Board Chairman, At-large Milton C. Johns.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series that examines public school teacher pay in Prince William County.

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

freedom, fitness, aquatic, manassas
freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-1freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-2freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-3freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-4freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-5
Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
 
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
 
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 
 
Frey

Frey

What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

 
“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
 
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 
 How much does the program cost?
 
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
 
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
 
Is it too late to sign up? 
 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
 
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
 
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
 
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
 
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
 
Why do people sign up?
 
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 

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