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News
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.

News
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.

News
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.

Find arts & crafts vendors, hayrides, food trucks at Manassas Park Fall Arts and Crafts Festival

The Manassas Park Community Center is excited to announce their first annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival to be held on Saturday, October 17 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. This festival will feature arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, games, hayrides, and a moon bounce.

The festival is the culmination of the tireless work of many individuals. For the past four years the community center has hosted the Fall Arts and Crafts Cornucopia which focused on vendors, but the community challenged the Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation staff to create a full feature festival.

Met with the opportunity to better serve the community, the Parks and Recreation staff envisioned a festival that combined the hometown charm of art and crafts with family friendly entertainment. There has been a lot of excitement in anticipation of the event as seen in the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival Facebook event where you can also see previews of the merchandise vendors will be selling.

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Parking next to the festival, located at the Stone House off of Old Centreville Rd, will open at 9:30 a.m. Additional handicap parking will be assigned at that parking lot. Parking in front of the community center is encouraged as the hayrides will also shuttle participants to and from the festival. The community center parking lot will be open at 7 a.m. All are welcome to attend this free event.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street, Manassas Park, VA 20181. The community center features an indoor swimming pool, two fitness rooms for aerobic and strength training, and two full basketball courts. The community center also provides recreational opportunities such as programs and classes for all ages. For more information visit www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com.

Spine-chilling tales will be told at historic Brentsville Courthouse, Rippon Lodge

With nearly 300 years of settled history, Prince William County has generated more than its fair share of paranormal activity. For those who would like to know more about our local ghost stories, special programs at two historic sites will explore some of the more famous stories and even possibly scare you.

Brentsville Courthouse 

It is said that Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center is haunted by the men and women who passed away in this area. On October 23 and 24, Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre in Bristow, Virginia will host special candlelight tours of the site. Each tour will explore some of the haunted history of the site, such as the murder of James Clark inside the renovated jail, or a 19th century County Sherriff, and much more!

Tours will begin at 7 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 9 p.m., though tours are not recommended for children under 12. Reservations strongly recommended.

For more information please call 703-365-7895.

Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge 

It was once said that Rippon Lodge is said to be haunted in such a ghostly and sinister fashion that no one will occupy it.” On October 30, Rippon Lodge Historic Site in Woodbridge, Virginia will present a special evening program about famous ghost stories from Colonial Virginia. Our amphitheater will come to life for a delightfully spine chilling evening! Story times will be at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.. The cost is $5 per person, and reservations are strongly recommended.

For more information please call 703-499-9812.

Are you feeling creative? The call for the 2nd banner art contest for 2016 is open

A creative spirit and an artistic flare contribute to the City of Manassas’ “modern beat.” Once the historic downtown was designated an Arts and Tourism district, it became PL 2a growing destination for public art, galleries, and events. From works of art by local artists on display in restaurants and in City Hall to the curated shows and performances at the Center for Arts, the community embraces and celebrates creativity. This month, however, the City of Manassas’ art scene is interactive. Artists and art lovers have three opportunities to contribute to the community’s creative vibe.

First, it’s time to vote for your favorite banner on the lampposts in downtown. Historic Manassas Inc. sponsored a contest calling for banner designs and received more than 130 works of art from area artists. Faced with a tough decision, a Selection Committee chose 60 pieces of art to decorate the downtown and named the contest’s winner – “Train Station” by Kelly Willis, which featured the City’s historic depot.

But there is a second prize still up for grabs – the $500 People’s Choice Award. After months of admiring the works of art blowing in the breeze, you can now vote for your favorite. You have many choices ranging from fiery sunsets to cherry blossoms to teetering tea cups. Pick up a walking tour guide at the Manassas Visitor’s Center in the train depot and stroll downtown to view each banner one more time. Enjoy a day downtown, pick up a cup of coffee, do a little shopping, and deliberate over lunch before dropping off a ballot at the Manassas Visitor’s Center by Oct. 30.

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Are you feeling creative? The call for the second banner art contest for 2016 is now open. Artists over 16 may submit their designs and vie for a chance to be a part of Manassas’ art scene. The application and guidelines are available on Historic Manassas’ Inc.’s website. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 15, 2016. Don’t wait for the last minute. In addition to having your work on display in the community, there is a $1,000 grand prize.

Lastly, since it is never too early to get into the holiday spirit, the City has issued a call for ornaments for the holiday tree at Virginia’s Executive Mansion. All submitted ornaments will be on display at City Hall, but one lucky ornament will be sent to Richmond. The Governor is seeking one-of-a-kind, handmade ornaments that fit in with the theme, “Celebrating Virginia’s Localities.” If you have an idea for a unique way to represent the City of Manassas, drop your 6-inch ornament off at City Hall by Oct. 20. Learn more online.

Heritage Hunt to hold community open house

The public is invited to the home owners Community Open House at Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club—a community designed for the active adult (55+).

The event is scheduled for Sunday, October 18, 2015, 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. Visitors will be registered at the front gate and directed to the community clubhouse (6901 Arthur Hills Drive, Gainesville, Va. 20155)

The visitors will be given a packet of information about the award-winning Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club community, including a list of almost 100 clubs and activities to enjoy. Visitors may tour the golf pro-shop, clubhouse, fitness and aquatic center, the secondary clubhouse at the Marsh Mansion.

The visitors who are interested in golf may request a short tour of the golf course.

To visit the community website, go to heritagehunt.net. If you would like more information, please call 703-743-5490 or yfeldman@heritagehunt.net.

News
Prince William School Board at odds over new high school design, cost

The Prince William County School Board once again finds itself arguing about transparency, and how to be the best stewards of taxpayer funds.

The discussion comes nearly two years after it approved one of the costliest high schools ever to be built in Virginia.

School officials Wednesday night were tasked once again with voting on a design to be used for the county’s 13th high school to be built in western Prince William County, slated to open in 2020.

The Board voted on April 23, 2014 to build new high schools using cheaper, a 20-year-old floor plan first used in 1991 to build C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, and last used in 2004 to build Battlefield High School outside Haymarket.

school prototype

School staff on Wednesday urged the governing body to rescind their vote and built a the new school based on designs used at Patriot High School, and the new Colgan High School that will open next fall.

The Battlefield model will cost $13.7 million less to construct. The Patriot model is more modern and includes more windows for natural light — something school staff said helps children learn better, according to a 1999 study cited by school division staff.

Both the Battlefield and Patriot design will accommodate 2,053 students. Classrooms in the Patriot model are 50-square feet larger than the 700-square-feet classrooms in at Battlefield High School.

“The greater square footage drives the greater cost,” said Prince William County Public Schools Associate Superintendent David Cline.

Larger open spaces to include courtyards, cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, hallways, and better energy efficiency are all selling points for the newer Patriot model. Cline also pointed to a series of meetings held in September where “the vast majority of about 75 citizens who spoke, the overwhelming majority indicated they liked the Patriot prototype,” said Cline.

“To get this on the on the agenda tonight, someone had to ask for it,” said Neabsco District School Board member Lisa Bell. “We did take a vote, and now were being asked to revisit it. We held two community meetings to stir up the community again.”

The school division held two public meetings last month to discuss where the 13th high school will be located. The locations include a site proffered by a housing developer that would build a the Stone Haven neighborhood in Bristow, still awaiting approval from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, or on a site off Rollins Ford road bequeathed to the county for use as a public park.

The meetings also dredged up the topic of how the school building should be built. Schools Superintendent Steven Walts said the meetings were held in the name of transparency with the public. 

Bell, along with Coles District member Michael Otaigbe said the school design topic should not have been discussed since the Board already voted last year to use the Battlefield design.

“We voted to use the one that was less costly and the community applauded…with that and we learned our lessons, and here we are being told we should go for a higher model,” said Otaigbe.

Bell and Otaigbe opted not return to the School Board next year. Otagibe said this was the first time in his 12 years on the Board he has been asked to revisit a prior vote.

Occoquan School Board member Lillie Jessie said she cannot fathom the cost of the more expensive model when so many students in her district in eastern Prince William County attend classes outside their school buildings in trailer classrooms.

“Do wider hallways serve any instructional purposes?” asked Jessie.

The Occoquan District representative also asked school staff for a study more recent than the 1999 study cited, noting children perform better in schools with more natural light.

“Osbourn Park and Battlefield [high schools] are nationally ranked, and they don’t have glass,” she added.

The School Board is trying to avoid a repeat of the Colgan High School debate, which ignited local bloggers that denounced the division for spending too much on the school, and for including the division’s first school pool. Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart argued then that school pools are not uncommon, and that the pool was necessary to attract more affluent residents to the county

Colgan High School, located on Route 234 near Hoadly Road near eastern Prince William County, will open next fall with a price tag of $111 million — one of the most costliest ever built in the state.

Crowded schools are also a problem in the county, as many new schools are filled to the brim with students as soon as they open.

“We do need to be building larger schools with larger capacity because land is not readily available. I’m more concerned about capacity than lighting at this time,” said Potomac District School Board member Betty Covington.

School Board Chairman Milton Johns opted not to return to the School Board in 2016 after 12 years on the Board. He said overcrowding in county schools is nothing new, and that schools on the eastern side of the county dealt with severe overcrowding issues in the 1980s and 90s.

Johns supports building the Patriot model for the 13th high school.

“We pay a lot of people a lot of money to be expert professionals and advise us, and the message I’m getting is that they think [building the Battlefield model] is a big mistake,” said Johns.

The clock is ticking on the school board to decide not only what the new school will look like, but where it will be located if it will open on time in 2020. A decision on the school design must be made this month, said Cline.

Johns tabled the discussion, and a possible vote to rescind the 2014 decision to build the Battlefield model to the next School Board meeting at 7 p.m. October 21.

News
Reprinting Prince William election ballots could cost thousands

It could cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix misprinted election ballots in Prince William County.

Five candidates on the ballot for the November 3 General Election will not see their listed as they requested them. Many of the candidates use and requested shorter versions of their name to be listed on the ballot. They’re getting their full names instead.

Here’s what was requested and what voters might see instead:

Mike May

May

Mike May (Commonwealth Attorney candidate) will be listed as Michael May

rick smith

Smith

Richard “Rick” Smith (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman candidate) will be listed as Richard Smith

Steven “Steve” Chapman (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Woodbridge District candidate) will be listed as Steven Chapman

Earnie W. Porta, Jr. (Prince William County Board of Supervisors Occoquan District candidate) will be listed as Earnest Porta, Jr.

Chapman

Chapman

Gerald “Jerry” Foreman (36th District Virginia Senate candidate) will be listed as Gerald Foreman

Prince William County Electoral Board Secretary Keith Scarborough said each of the affected candidates submitted the proper form to indicate how they wanted their names listed on the ballot, but the mistake happened anyway.

Porta

Porta

“It wasn’t a space issue, it was our office when filling out the paperwork, messed up those forms,” said Scarborough. “…we made a mistake, obviously.”

The form included 28 spaces for candidates to fill in their names. It’s not uncommon for candidates to want their full names listed on the ballots, along with more common nicknames placed in quotation marks.

Foreman

Foreman

The upcoming General Election will be the first in Prince William County where paper ballots will once again be used at all voting precincts. New laws forced the county to get rid of electronic touchscreen machines and convert back to using machine scanners that tally votes when a paper ballot is inserted into them.

Prince William County struck a deal with Hart Invercivic, an Austin, Texas-based company that makes the voting machines. It also agreed to print all the ballots needed for the first five elections, starting with the upcoming November 3 vote, as part of the purchase agreement.

Scarborough said the ballots must be printed by that company and cannot be printed locally. The cost to reprint the ballots could range between $80 and $100,000, he added.

The Prince William County Electoral Board will meet Wednesday night to discuss their options, which include reprinting ballots, or placing signs at polling stations noting the names of the five affected candidates and displaying them as intended.

Candidates we talked to say the situation is unfortunate, but they don’t plan on asking for a reprint.

“The truth of the matter is, I don’t want to cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars to reprint ballots. I wish it would have been done right but I understand these types of things happen,” said Earnie Porta.

“There’s overcrowding in classrooms, and traffic issues, so there are other things the taxpayers money would be better spent on.” said Steve Chapman.

Manassas set the bar with high-quality, truly local craft spirits and beer

The craft beer, wine, and spirits industry has been growing in leaps and bounds.

In the last few years, two breweries and a distillery have opened in the City of Manassas. While each place offers their own unique vibe and products, two characteristics unite and set them apart from the competition – a commitment to quality and local ingredients.

“Similar to the farm-to-table movement, people are excited by the grain-to-glass concept and high-quality products made from local grains,” says Bill Karlson, the co-founder and CEO of KO Distilling. “We make a point of telling people during tours that our wheat comes from Renwood Farms in Charles City and our rye came from Bay’s Best Feed Farm in Virginia’s Northern Neck.”

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KO Distilling opened in September and welcomed 450 people to its grand opening. During its first week, more than 100 people stopped by to sample its whiskey and gins. The distillery is a true agribusiness – the spirits are not just made in Virginia, but the majority of the grains used are sourced from local farms.

A Nielsen study found that “local, authentic” are qualities desired of beer and spirits growing in importance among consumers, most largely among the 21-34 demographic.  Perhaps that is because today about 75% of adults over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a brewery. The Atlantic reported that there were 70 small distilleries in the U.S. in 2003. Karlson says that KO is the 19th craft distiller in an industry of about 1000 microdistillers.

Customers seek quality and want to know how ingredients are sourced, says Sarah Meyers, co-founder of Manassas’ first craft brewery BadWolf Brewing Company.

“We try to source local whenever possible and at Little BadWolf they get to see beer being made right in front of them. Given how many craft breweries are popping up, we might hit a saturation point, so you need to make sure your quality is way up there and that is our biggest focus.”

The beer made at Heritage Brewing has a 100-percent organic base and 92 percent of all ingredients are either organic or locally sourced.  Sean Arroyo, CEO of Heritage Brewing, explains, “Our approach is committing ourselves to the consistency and quality of our product and bringing the best ingredients that we can through organics and local aspects.”

This fall, Heritage is collaborating with The Bone, a barbecue spot in historic Manassas, on a bacon stout. And BadWolf is working with downtown Manassas restaurateurs on an “Old Town” Beer that will only be available in downtown establishments.

Experimenting with new creations keeps the excitement alive. Heritage, which is a 20-barrel brew house, also operates a small pilot system for making small batches of creative releases for the taproom. “It gives us a way to interact with our consumers and let them decide what our next big beers will be,” says Arroyo.

After BadWolf’s successful first year, Meyers and her business partner and husband Jeremy opened a 6,000-square foot production facility. Little BadWolf Brewing Company, the smaller, original location, is where people can try out the experimental batches and even suggest recipes, while the new Big BadWolf has space for special events and growler and kegs of their flagship brews.

“We are using our space for more than beer,” says Meyers. “We focus on giving back to charities and bringing people together for social events.” One look at BadWolf’s event calendar shows there is always something going on, including yoga, painting, and Craft Beer Bingo – all accompanied with a pint. Similarly, Heritage hosts trivia and live music nights in addition to special events like a new beer dinner series.

While all three businesses are committed to building a sense of community, they also take being a regional destination seriously. As Meyers says, “people won’t go to just a bar, but places like a brewery are something special they will seek out.”

Karlson says that he and his business partner, John O’Mara, always envisioned KO Distilling being a tourism destination by matching a great product with a great experience. “The minute visitors walk through our doors,” he says, “they know they aren’t in a warehouse anymore.”

KO Distilling’s tasting room has leather couches, a fireplace, and copper and oak design elements that mimic the copper pot still they use for distilling and barrels they use for aging. The atmosphere rewards locals as well as travelers for making the drive. Karlson, Meyers, and Arroyo all agree that Manassas, with its close proximity to I-95 and 66 and its abundance of historical sites and attractions, is an ideal location for attracting tourists from the metro area and beyond.

“What we want to do is bring in the community, produce a quality product, and have a great time doing it,” says Meyers.

News
Stewart, Smith disagree on BPOL tax but friendly on nearly everything else

What was an issue that once defined Prince William County as a contentious place for immigrants to be is no more.

An audience member at a debate Thursday night with Democrat challenger Rick Smith, and Republican Prince William County Chairman At-large Corey Stewart asked the incumbent if immigration was going to be an issue.

Stewart won national media attention in 2007 when he lead an effort to have police check the ID of every suspected illegal immigrant in the county.

“We’ve got to move on,” said Stewart. “We’ve implemented a policy that targets those who commit crimes, and we’ve turned many criminals over to [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement], crime is down, but we still have a way to go.”

Instead of checking every suspected undocumented migrant, it is the policy to check the immigration status of anyone arrested and charged with a crime in Prince William.

Stewart sold himself Thursday as an older, wiser politician who has learned to be a better leader since elected to the Board in 2006.

“When I first came into office I was out there throwing bombs and a lot of things, but I’ve learned that in a community as diverse in Prince William County you learn to work together to get things done,” he added.

The debate between Smith and Stewart was amicable, as the two men seemed agreeable on issues on education, taxes, and in investing in transportation infrastructure to bring more business to the region to spur economic development. Both say they want more high-paying jobs in Prince William and fewer people leaving the county to find work.

stewartsmith1

 

“We’re being passed up by Fairfax and Loudoun, and Stafford Counites for higher jobs with higher average paying salaries,” said Smith.

The Democrat said he had heard many complaints from small business owners an expensive and prolonged the permitting process with the county’s zoning office. Smith promised a local government that would be more business friendly.

He also advocated getting rid of the county’s Business and Professional Licensing tax, or BPOL tax, which is a tax collected on gross receipts after a business reaches the $300,000 gross receipts threshold. Smith said the county needed to work with Richmond lawmakers to find alternate sources of revenue to replace monies generated by the tax.

The tax generates $23 million annual for the county and abolishing it overnight would mean the average tax bill for Prince William residents could rise as much as 5%, according to Stewart.

“We’ve worked over time to increase the threshold, so BPOL doesn’t hit small businesses so hard… over the couple years will work to increase the threshold to half a million dollars,” said Stewart.

The two men also talked about education, and repeatedly recognized Northern Virginia Community College (the debate was held at the college’s Manassas campus) and George Mason Universtiy for educating young people, and for helping to attract the types of science and technology companies that want to hire young talent.

Smith was the only candidate of the night who received applause when he said more funding is needed for K-12 education.

“The education I got in the late 70s and 80s in Prince William County schools, and the education my older kids got in the late 90s, and early 2000s is much different than it is today,” said Smith. “We’re teaching kids to remember facts, but we’re not teaching them to tell us why they matter.”

Stewart touted investments in infrastructure, especially paying for the widening of Route 1 in Woodbridge and Interstate 66 between Gainesville and Haymarket.

“On transportation by far, nobody is close to being second, we have invested more than Fairfax County, and we’re the only county in the commonwealth with our own road building program,” said Stewart.

Stewart also touted some $20 million in new spending to build parks, libraries, and other government projects that he said would attract more high-quality jobs to the region.

This debate was sponsored by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and Northern Virginia Community Collage Manassas Campus. It was moderated by Krysta Nicole Jones, founder and CEO, Virginia Leadership Institute.

This was the second meeting of the two men, following a debate in September held by the Prince William County Chapter of the NAACP. A thrid and final debate will be held at Congregation Ner Shalom, accross from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 10.

Voters head to the polls November 3.

Ashes in trashcan to blame for Bristow blaze

On Tuesday, September 29th, at approximately 4:30 p.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to a structure fire in a two-story single family home located in the 8700 block of Lords View Loop in Bristow.

Upon arrival, fire and rescue crews observed smoke with fire blazing from the side and rear of the home that had extended through the roof. Firefighters proceeded to attack and extinguish the fire.

The fire was discovered by a neighbor who spotted flames soaring from the roof and alerted the family enabling them to safely evacuate the home.

No injuries reported.

Red Cross was called to assist, 1 adult and 2 children and their cat.

A Building Official has posted the home unsafe.

According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, preliminary reports indicate the fire originated on the rear of the home ignited by ashes placed in a trash can next to the house earlier in the day.

The fire is under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Prince William County Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin McGee would like to remind residents when disposing of fire pit/fireplace ashes keep these safety tips in mind:
• Douse and saturate the ashes with water.
• Allow ashes to cool (at least 4 days) before disposing.
• Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container.
• Place the ash container a safe distance from your home (at least 10 feet).
° DO NOT store in or around your home, garage or other nearby buildings.

-Submitted by Prince William fire and rescue 

News
Gainesville Neighborhood Library marks last day

The Gainesville Neighborhood Library closed for good on Wednesday.

The old library located in James S. Long Park will make way for a new Haymarket Gainesville Community Library at 14870 Lightner Road in Haymarket.

Wednesday was the last time patrons could check out books at the old neighborhood library, which was dedicated back in 1987.

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Photographer Micheal Porterfield sent photos of activities during the library’s last day. His mother worked at the neighborhood libarary for 23 years, he stated in an email.

You can see more photos on Porterfield’s Flickr account.

A ribbon cutting for the new library will be held Thrusday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m.

A ribbon cutting for the new Monctclair Community Library will also be held this month, on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. It is located at 5049 Waterway Drive in Montclair.

Here’s some other neat stats about the Gainesville Neighborhood Library, from library spokesman Andrew Spence: 

The fifth neighborhood library in the system situated in the Gainesville magisterial district. The facility is 2,073 square-feet and has a collection of 22,000 items including books, audio books, DVDs, magazines and other materials.

Statistics from Fiscal Year 2012 thru Fiscal Year 2015

Items circulated (number of items that were checked out): 867,751

Information requests (number questions that came in): 44,712

Library visits: 309,469

Computer users: 10,502

Number of events held: 232

Number of attendees to events: 3,947

Total Volunteer hours worked: 14,318

News
Joaquin worst case: ‘Landfall around Norfolk and tracks up the Chesapeake up the Potomac River’

Hurricane Joaquin should move up the east coast this week. It could impact our area.

And whether or not we see a hurricane, we’re going to see a lot of rain.

“regardless of what happens with this storm, we are going to see five to 10 inches of rain, and that is enough that people should be paying attention,” said Prince William County Director of Emergency Preparedness Patrick Collins.

Collins had just gotten off a statewide conference call when we spoke with him Wednesday afternoon. He tells us folks at the county government are watching the storm closely.

He sent out this email to area agencies to serve as a warning, and to get people prepared for the coming storm:

Good afternoon:

We have concluded a VDEM/NWS Conference call concerning the Hurricane and they still have not nailed down the track. The worst case scenario is it makes landfall around Norfolk and tracks up the Chesapeake up the Potomac River. One thing the weather service said was they are confident that regardless of the track we can expect 5-10 inches of rain over the entire event. It will start raining tomorrow night with heavy rain Friday and Friday night and then the second period of heavy rain with the track of Joaquin. As we get further into the event the track will become clearer and we can make more specific plans.

We plan on conducting a short briefing this Friday October 2nd at 11:00am in the EOC, by then the NWS should have a better idea of what our impacts will be here in the county. In the meantime agencies should be making their normal preparations for a storm such as this. Some of the activities are listed below, but I am sure that each agency has more comprehensive checklists.

Agency Preparation:

• Fuel all vehicles
• Establish work schedules EOC/Field
• Review Plans and Policies
• Check all generators
• Stock food /water
• Remove windblown equipment such as exterior trash cans
• Advise employees to check their family plans and supplies at home
• Monitor weather and e-mails
• Check all communications equipment for readiness
• Perform any “Just-in-Time” training that is needed
• Check flashlights

The Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the storm and will send out regular updates.

News
Hurricane Joaquin: Cancellations and postponements in our area

Hurricane Joaquin churning in the Atlantic Ocean could have it sights set on our area.

With all the rain and wind the storm could bring (we’ll link you to the Capital Weather Gang which has more information about the storm), we’re also seeing events postponed in our area ahead of the storm.

Manassas Fall Jubilee
The Manassas Fall Jubilee that had been scheduled for Satruday will now be held Oct. 24. This is the 33rd year for the event.

First Friday Manassas
The monthly First Friday event in Downtown Manassas is still scheduled. However, streets will not be closed for the event due to inclement weather.

Youth for Tomorrow’s annual Country Fair
This event held each year in Bristow, on the grounds of Youth For Tomorrow on Hazel Circle Drive off Linton Hall Road, is canceled. The auction portion of the event will be rescheduled. Check the website for additional information.

Americans in Wartime Musuem open house

This annual event in Nokesville, scheduled to tale place Saturday October 3 and Sunday October 4, is canceled. 

Stafford United Way yard sale 

A United Way yard sale scheduled Saturday at the Stafford County Government Center is canceled. 

Brentsville Court Days

This program scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3 has been postponed until spring.

Stafford schools events canceled / postponed

The Margaret Brent Elementary Road Race, originally scheduled for Saturday,is postponed until November 8
Office of Public Information

The Moncure Elementary Clothing Sale, originally scheduled for this weekend, is postponed until October 16 and 17.

The middle school field hockey games scheduled for Friday, October 2, and Monday, October 5, are canceled and will be rescheduled at the end of the
season.

Got a postponement or cancelation you want to tell us about? Tell us and we’ll list it in this post, just like we do with snow closings.

There will be music, games, and Best BBQ competition at Dumfries Fall Festival

On October 17, 2015, the Town of Dumfries will present their 14th Annual Fall Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Garrison Park, located behind the Dumfries Town Hall.

This year there will be an emphasis on a variety of free activities for youth, to include field games, face painting, a bounce house, and two large plastic spheres that can be propelled by an occupant inside. There will also be a DJ providing a wide variety of music throughout the event, including playing songs by request.

There will be opportunities for line dancing and of course individual rock-and-rolling and dancing for those that just want to let their hair down.

In addition, there will be vendors that will provide a wide variety of items for sale during the event and others that want to provide information to the public. Food vendors will be available as well and will offer an assortment of food and drink for purchase throughout the event.

This year’s event will once again feature a BBQ Competition where several self-promoted pit masters will put their food and reputations on the line in pursuit of the award for Best BBQ at the festival.

Festival goers will be able to purchase a ticket for one dollar that will allow them to taste some BBQ from each competitor. Those that participate will then be able to cast a vote for their favorite and the overall vote will determine the winner.

Dan Taber, Town Manager, has expressed his excitement over this year’s Fall Festival and has issued a challenge for as many people as possible to attend what he expects to be the best Fall Festival ever held.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to come together and have a great time while enjoying good music, good food, good fun, and most importantly, the good company of their neighbors,” said Taber.

Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to the Fall Festival.

The Town is accepting applications for vendors and complete information is available on the Town website at www.dumfriesva.gov.

For questions please call Tiwana Barnes at (703) 221-3400, ext. 112 or through email at tbarnes@dumfriesva.gov.

Prince William Chamber PAC releases endorsements in 2015 race

Updated Oct. 9, 2015

Prince William County Board of Supervisors, At-large — Corey Stewart 

“In his most recent term, Chairman Stewart has demonstrated tremendous leadership and made great strides in establishing Prince William as an emerging business location,” said Brian Gordon, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington, and the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber PAC.  “In the face of a challenging economic environment, Chairman Stewart and the Board of County Supervisors have helped to position the County to be on the forefront of economic development in strategic growth sectors.  The Chamber PAC is pleased to endorse his candidacy for reelection so that he may continue to build on these successes, maintain a positive, business-focused public discourse and work to further improve the local business climate.” 

Virginia Senate 29th District — Hal Parrish 

“Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park have been privileged to be represented for so many years by Senator Colgan,” said Brian Gordon, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington, and the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber PAC.  “Mayor Parrish is best suited to carry on in his tradition and further his lasting legacy of fighting for Prince William and promoting a strong economy while maintaining the highest level of statesmanship.  While the PAC was impressed with both candidates, only one possessed a proven track record of working with and on behalf of the business community to grow our local economy and strengthen our community.” 

Candidate endorsements were determined through a questionnaire and interview process and an evaluation and comparative analysis of the policy platforms and records of each candidate as they related to that of the region’s business community. 

 

Original post

The Prince William Chamber Political Action Committee, the political arm of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, announced its endorsements of candidates for the Virginia General Assembly and Board of County Supervisors.

Candidate endorsements were determined through a questionnaire and interview process and an evaluation and comparative analysis of the policy platforms and records of each individual as they related to that of the region’s business community.

Potomac District – Maureen Caddigan

28th Senate District – Richard Stuart

Coles District – Martin Nohe 39th Senate District – George Barker

Neabsco District – John Jenkins

2nd House District – Mark Dudenhefer

Occoquan District – Earnie Porta

31st House District – Scott Lingamfelter

Woodbridge District – Frank Principi

40th House District – Tim Hugo

50th House District – Jackson Miller

51st House District – Rich Anderson

52nd House District – Luke Torian

87th House District – John Bell

“Prince William County is blessed to have so many strong candidates, willing to dedicate their time and service to elected office,” said Brian Gordon, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington, and the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber PAC. “The candidates endorsed by the Chamber PAC demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the region’s economic challenges and put forward substantive plans and proposals for improving our local business climate.”

The Prince William Chamber PAC was established in 2014 by members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. The PAC promotes and facilitates the accumulation of voluntary contributions from members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and others. Contributions are used primarily in support of issues and candidates for local and state offices who have taken positions consistent with the Chamber’s public policy positions regarding the private enterprise system.

News
Stewart, Smith faceoff Thursday at NOVA Manassas

Stewart

Stewart

The candidates for Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will face each other in a debate Thursday night.

Republican incumbent Corey Stewart and Democrat challenger Rick Smith are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). This is the first one-on-one meeting of the two candidates since the

rick smith

Smith

two debated at an NAACP forum held at Gar-Field Senior High School earlier this month.

The debate is sponsored by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and the Manassas Campus of NOVA.

Prince William Chamber Director of Government Relations Brendon Shaw outlined the debate topics in an email to Potomac Local:

We plan to cover:

Economic Development

–Expanding the commercial tax base
–Transportation
–Balancing the needs of the business community and residents
–Land use
–Education

[NOVA] will have two students participate to ask questions. Keith Scarborough from the [Prince William County] Electoral Board will discuss changes to the county’s voting system following the debate.

The debate will begin at 7 p.m. in Howsman Hall and is open to the public.

A third a final debate between the two candidates will take place at 7 p.m. on October 7 10 at Congregation Ner Shalom across from C.D. Hylton High School.

News
Strong economic forecast hampered by bad Prince William traffic

Prince William leaders said the future of the region is ripe for economic growth, and that is also one that will continue to be hampered by traffic congestion.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart, Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish III, and Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones took the stage at the annual “State of Prince William” luncheon in Manassas. The event is organized by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

Prince William Today publisher Bruce Potter asked questions of the three men covering the topics of economic development, education, and improving transportation infrastructure.

Parrish said Manassas cut back on economic development efforts during the 2008 recession. In recent years, the city hired Economic Development Director Patrick Small, who developed a new logo and branding for the city: “Historic Heart, Modern Beat.”

“We, like other localities did during the recession, cut some services that had to be cut.” said Parrish, who added 21,000 people commute to the city each day, while the number of those who leave the city for work has fallen to about 14,000.

It remains a tough go for commuters on Route 28 between Manassas Park and Interstate 66. Jones said thousands of commuters sit in jammed traffic on the road that bridges Prince William and Fairfax counties.

A state plan to widen I-66 won’t help unless bridges that cross the Bull Run River are widened, said Jones.

“66 can be widened large enough to put a 747, I don’t care, as long we sit behind the Bull Run bridges, we’re not going to be able to get any better in improving quality of life and giving hours of life back to people,” said Jones.

Stewart painted a picture of economic prosperity for Prince William County, which has seen its population rise to nearly 450,000 residents. Funding for the county school division — the 38th largest in the U.S. — has grown by $81 million over the past four years, said Stewart.

Many of the students who graduate from Prince William County Public Schools return home to find work and start businesses, said Stewart.

“The product of our school system has beocome the number one driver of ecomic development…We’re on the edge of a gilded age in Prince William County, and I’m not kidding, this is one hell of a community. If you didn’t hear abotu Prince William County 20 years ago, you’re going to hear about us in the next 20 years,” said Stewart.

Stewart points to new biotech and technology businesses opening at Innovation Park.

Stewart, a Republican, has served as on the Board of Supervisors since 2006 and is seeking reelection, running against Democrat Rick Smith.

Parrish, a Republican, has served as Manassas Mayor since 2008 and is seeking to replace Virginia State Senator Charles Colgan, who is retiring this year. Democrats are hoping to hold the seat and support Jeremy McPike for the position.

Voters will head to the polls November 3.

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