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The Town of Dumfries is Hiring

Town Seal_Color-w. borderJoin a Great Team – The Town of Dumfries is presently accepting applications for the following positions:

— Building Official

— Chief of Police

— Code Compliance Officer

— Community Development Director

— Director of Public Works

— Information Technology Manager

— Police Officer

— Sergeant

The staff at the Town of Dumfries do what they love and love what they do. While each person has a particular role, the staff also works together to support each other and the Town as a whole. You can find further information and details on how to apply on the Town’s website at www.dumfriesva.gov.

News
‘The school division can and has purchased land for schools with nor need for BOCS involvement’

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Lillie Jessie, the Occoquan District School Board representative, penned a post for Potomac Local last week that we titled ‘Instead of giving us money,…provide land needed to build new schools.’

We lifted the words for the headline straight from Jessie’s text. And then we started wondering: Is it always up to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS) to purchase land, or designate a site on which the Independent School Board should build a new school?

From Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits: (more…)

Traffic
Virginia won’t consider widening I-95, blames Express Lanes

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First on Potomac Local 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — When the Occoquan District Supervisor asked state officials to consider a small fix to ease a part of the region’s Interstate 95 traffic burden, she didn’t like the answer she received.

Ruth Anderson asked Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board to consider extending a fourth travel lane on Interstate 95 from the Occoquan River south to Prince William Parkway. After extending the 4th lane from Newington in Fairfax County south to the river in 2011, the Virginia Department of Transportation created a heavy bottleneck at the lane’s terminus at the busy Route 123/I-95 interchange.

Anderson stated that “at a minimum” a fourth lane extended south to the Parkway is a sensible solution as the six-lane road, and its highway interchange is better equipped than the Route 123 junction to handle more traffic. Officials in Prince William said they’ve long asked the state to widen the road to four travel lanes on the north and southbound sides through nearly the entire stretch of I-95 in Prince William County, from Occoquan to Dumfries.

Instead, the I-95 E-ZPass Express Lanes were built. Toll lanes in the center of the highway that regularly charge as much as $16 one way, and allows vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free. (more…)

News
‘Any shift with the storm edge will greatly affect snow totals’

From the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington office, updated 5:10 p.m. Friday: 

Not much on radar at this time, though increasing coverage over the Great Smokies is making the 12Z GFS look more reliable. The surface low is not apparent yet, but should be developing over the western Gulf of Mexico. We are on the wester fringe of this storm with the surface low remaining off the Carolina coast and pushing NE from off Hatteras. Dry and cold air being drawn into the storm will limit snow for a majority of the LWX CWA. However, after midnight, swaths of snow will overspread southern and eastern portions of the area. The winter weather advisory was expanded to include central MD as well as the central Shenandoah Valley. 12Z guidance went a little farther west and the western edge will be tight, so these areas were the greatest targets at this time.

Snow will taper off from the west Saturday morning through the early afternoon. Snow ratios look to be 12-15 through the event across the area. So any shift with the storm edge will greatly affect snow totals.

North to northwest winds will remain up through the night with gusts 25 mph. Min temps teens west and low 20s east.


Honor vets and active duty military at the Clubs at Quantico

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security John C. Harvey, Jr.
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On Tuesday, January 24 the Prince William Chamber of Commerce will host their annual Salute to the Armed Forces Luncheon at the Clubs at Quantico & Crossroads Event Center, located on Marine Corps Base Quantico.  

Presented by the Chamber’s Veterans Council, the luncheon features status reports from Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, Colonel Angie Holbrook and Colonel Joseph Murray, Base Commander at Quantico. Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, John Harvey will be the Keynote Speaker. PenFed Credit Union is the Presenting Sponsor. All interested Prince William County and Manassas area residents and business leaders are encouraged to attend.

No one who lives or works in Northern Virginia can be unaware that the region is packed with veterans and military personnel, making it somewhat easy for residents to take for granted the safety and security we enjoy. Chamber staff agree, and said they believe that is why the Salute to the Armed Forces has become a favorite among the membership.

“The event is so very moving and that effect has not worn off, even after six years,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Andrea Short.

This will be the first year that the event will take place on the Marine Corps Base. Each year the Chamber utilizes this program to honor active-duty service members and Veterans from across the region.

The 2017 event will be no exception. From the moment guests walk through the doors they will recognize that this event is different from any other business luncheon or awards program. Veterans are given a badge so that fellow attendees know they have served.

Conversations around the lunch tables to the remarks from the podium; the room hums with moving accounts of personal connections to the U.S. military. Even the Marine Corps and Army Commanders carry the theme by honoring outstanding soldiers and Marines from their command.

In 2016, a young Marine who had almost single-handedly run the Toys for Tots program was honored by her Commander.   

This year the Chamber’s Salute to the Armed Forces Keynote Speaker, John Harvey, will share what is being done by Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration in terms of veterans-related issues and the ways in which the Commonwealth is working to ensure the maintenance of a productive relationship with military services and the federal Department of Defense.

The program will also feature remarks by World War II Navy Veteran Chilton Raiford who lived through two Kamikaze attacks and rescued fellow servicemen from a burning staircase.

The program concludes when retired Marine and Chamber member Harry Horning plays TAPS on his trumpet, honoring those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice.

In addition to PenFed Credit Union, Salute to the Armed Forces 2017 is sponsored by First Command Financial Planning, NOVEC, Prince William Living, Zeiders Enterprises, The Prince William Times and Dominion Virginia Power, among others. Tickets to the luncheon are $45 for members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, or $60 for non-members. Registration is available online at PWchamber.org. Questions? Contact the Prince William Chamber of Commerce at 703-368-6600 or email ashort@pwchamber.org.

News
School closings and delays for Thursday evening Jan. 5, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017

Check our Schools and Local Governments Twitter lists below for the most up-to-date closings posted by the respective school division or government agency.

For the open status of the Federal Government, click “OPM website” below.


Government closings and delays


Federal Government Operating Status

(OPM website)


Want More Prince William County?

Prince William County has established itself as an important part of the economic landscape of the Greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area and Northern Virginia.  The County’s contributions to the Northern Virginia economy has resulted in the region singularly accounting for roughly 45 percent of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s total economic activity and 37 percent of all employment, as recently reported in the 2016 State of the Commonwealth Report.  

As Virginia’s second-largest and fourth-fastest growing County, Prince William County has grown consistently and continues to expand and diversify.  Last year, Site Selection, cited one of Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development projects as “…the top project in capital investment [in Virginia] for 2016, to date, is a $350 million Iron Mountain data center going into Manassas.”  SmartAssets also named Prince William County among the state’s top 5 investment locations.

In the last five calendar years [2011-2015], projects closed by the Prince William County Department of Economic Development alone intend to invest a record $2.7 billion and to create 2,900 jobs.  2015 was the fifth year in the Department’s history that it logged over half of a billion dollars in capital investment, with $660 million and more than 600 new jobs. 

“Twenty years ago Prince William County recognized the importance of Economic Development and dedicated a new Department to work on defining a roadmap to its future,” said Corey A. Stewart, Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “Today, we are realizing the benefit of laying the foundation for a prosperous economy and continue in our dedication to raise the bar higher for our business community and citizens by delivering on increased capital investment and high-paying, highly-skilled jobs.”

“By concentrating in life sciences and information technology we are creating growth opportunities that are opening up new markets and new types of business opportunities, influencing other technology sectors and the region, as a whole,” said Jeff Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Department of Economic Development, Prince William County.  “The County’s growth is owed in part to its strategic location and excellent competitive edge, such as a ready supply of highly-educated young professionals, affordable and available land and competitive labor costs, all of which result in a strong value proposition.”

Throughout its growth, Prince William County has distinguished itself as a premier business destination, that has made significant strides in its new role as a thriving science and technology hub.  There has also been a notable increase in employment opportunities within Prince William County.  As of 2015, the County provided job opportunities for over 122,000 persons.  In fact, over the period 2010-2015, job growth in Prince William County convincingly outpaced that of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area at 18% compared to 6%; as well as that of the state of Virginia which also saw a 6% increase.  Similarly, the number of businesses in Prince William County increased by 20% over the same period compared to 11% growth in the Washington D.C. metro area and 12% growth for all of Virginia. 

By all indications, Prince William County’s ability to generate job opportunities within its boundaries is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, based on the latest round of estimates released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.  According to those projections, job growth in Prince William County is expected to outpace that of any of the other observed localities in the metro area.  Over the 30-year period, 2015-2045, the County is expected to add an additional 114,000 jobs – an almost 80% increase. 

Want more Prince William County?  Check out our latest video, sign-up for newsletters or visit us at: www.PWCEconDev.org or @PWCDED.

News
Sheetz at Caton Hill and Telegraph roads for sale

[Photo: Sheetz, Inc.]

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A recently opened Sheetz gas station in Woodbridge is for sale by a private investor, we’re told. 

Submitted: 

Greysteel, a national commercial real estate investment services firm, has been named exclusive advisor and agent by a private client for the sale of a newly constructed Sheetz convenience store and gas station located in a suburb of Washington D.C., which is one of the fastest growing counties in the country.  

Greysteel Senior Investment Associate, Henry Schuldinger of the Company’s Washington, D.C. office, is leading the marketing of the property.

This Sheetz location at 2540 Caton Hill Road is subject to a long-term ground lease. Sheetz opened the 24-hour location for business in July 2016.

The property is located at the corner of Caton Hill and Telegraph roads, adjacent to the largest park and ride commuter lot in Northern Virginia.  It is also less than one mile from the Potomac Mills Mall, one of the largest outlet malls in the country.  Surrounding major retailers in this dense retail corridor include IKEA, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kohl’s Wegmans, and CarMax.

“Sheetz has been expanding aggressively into the Virginia market along the I-95 corridor. This Sheetz property presents the company’s newest 24-hour prototype construction with expanded restaurant services. The property is located at an entrance to a commuter parking lot with nearly 3,000 spaces immediately off of heavily traveled Interstate 95,” said Mr. Schuldinger. “Given its location, we believe this site offers a unique underlying real estate value that will generate significant investor interest and we look forward to marketing the property to investors across the country,” he added.

News
Occoquan sign knocked down

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From Occoquan Mayor Liz Quist:

Intersection of Washington and Commerce Streets. I found it at 3:15 yesterday afternoon while on a walk with my husband.

One resident reported that it was still standing at 3 pm, but an employee of a local business thinks it was downed Saturday night.

We were able to move it out of the roadway with the help of two passing motorcyclists.

News
Recycle your Christmas Tree in Prince William County

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Submitted: 

After all the holiday festivities are over and the finery has lost its luster give your Christmas tree, wreath and other cut greenery another life as compost, mulch or habitat. Simply remove all ornaments, decorations, tinsel, nails and the tree stand and take the greenery to one of locations listed below to be recycled or repurposed.  

The Prince William County Landfill at 14811 Dumfries Road in Manassas.  Monday – Saturday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The facility is closed New Year’s Day. 703-792-4670

The Balls Ford Road Compost Facility located at 13000 Balls Ford Road in Manassas. Monday – Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The facility is closed New Year’s Day. 703-792-4670

Leesylvania State Park located at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive in Woodbridge (off Neabsco Road). Trees may be dropped off at Shelter 2 and will be used for habitat.

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) located at 5399 Wellington Branch Road in Gainesville.  Dec. 26 – Jan. 9.  The drop off area is located in the front parking lot in the area outlined with the orange safety cones.  NOVEC will deliver the wood-chip mulch to interested customer-owners at no charge, visit www.novec.com/mulch

News
The most-read posts on Potomac Local in 2016

For all of you who wanted to know when 2016 will come to an end, here’s some news: 2017 begins on Sunday. 

We can’t let the old year pass without our annual look back at our most-read stories on Potomac Local for 2016. 

With 1.8 million page views from nearly 1 million readers, here are the most-read stories this year: 

10. Seven arrested in Prince William internet sting

On June 6, members of the Prince William County Police Departments’ Special Victim’s Bureau and Intel Unit began a week a long operation targeting offenders of crimes involving children.

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9. Fresh, hot, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts coming to Manassas

The fascination with Krispy Kreme doughnuts continued in 2016 as a post we wrote in 2015 ranked as this year’s 9th most-read story on Potomac Local.

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8. Two Woodbridge men charged in connection to ISIS

Federal authorities said two men from Woodbridge intended to go to Syria to join ISIS.

One man was arrested at Richmond International Airport. The second man was arrested in Woodbridge after he returned from driving the first suspect to the airport. 

7. Grief counselors at Battlefield High School after student death

Grief counselors were sent to Battlefield High School in October after a student took his own life. 

6. Manassas student tells school board she was beaten in hallway

A 7th-grade student at Metz Middle School told school officials she was beaten and bloodied in a school hallway.

5. Body found in Powells Creek under Route 1 in Woodbridge

Police found a body underneath a bridge that carries traffic on Route 1 over Powells Creek in Woodbridge.

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4. Najee Mason killed in Woodbridge

On June 5, detectives from the Homicide Unit identified the suspect involved in the murder of Najee Mason which occurred in the 14900 block of Potomac Heights Place in Woodbridge.

3. Rookie Officer Ashley Guindon killed in domestic shooting

“It is with profound sadness that we announce that Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon, one of the officers involved in this evening shooting on Lashmere Ct, has died as a result of her injuries sustained during the incident.”

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2. Fatal shooting outside Dale City Food Lion

One man was shot outside a Food Lion at the intersection of Dale Boulevard and Hoadly Road in late November. foodlionshooting

1. Suspected MS13 gang members rounded up, charged in murder of Edwin Chicas

“On November 9, detectives from the Prince William County Police Homicide Unit and Special Investigations Bureau, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Manassas City Police Department and the City of Manassas Park Police Department, attempted to arrest several suspects involved in the murder of Edwin Ivan Chicas which occurred in the 7500 block of Quail Run Ln in Manassas on October 29.”

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More:

Top stories of 2015

Top stories of 2014

Top stories of 2013

Top stories of 2012

Top stories of 2011

Top stories of 2010

 

News
Sweeto Burrito adding two new locations in Prince William

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LAKE RIDGE, Va. — Sweeto Burrito will expand in Prince William County.

Two new locations — one at Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge and the second at Potomac Festival in Woodbridge, across from Potomac Mills mall — should be open by February, said Sweeto Burrito Virginia Director of Operations Micheal Wetherill.

The new restaurants will be the second and third locations in Virginia. The fast-food chain opened its first store at Staples Mill shopping center at the intersection of Minnieville and Spriggs roads in 2015.

The company plans to open as many as 26 locations across the state within the next 10 years but doesn’t expect to open more in Prince William after February, according to Wetherill.

The Lake Ridge location will open where a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza was located. The Woodbridge location will open in a space once occupied by Golden Tech Computers, which relocated next to Outback Steakhouse. 

The North Dakota-based company began as a food truck in 2011 before franchise rights to the business were sold. Burritos on the menu feature meats like beef, chicken, steak, and bacon, and other ingredients like eggs, tater tots, onion rings, and siracha sauce.

The most popular item on the menu in Dale City is the Carnivore, a burrito with steak, chicken, bacon, pepper jack cheese, white rice, cilantro ranch, and siracha sauce, said Wetherill.

Update

Wetherill called us Thursday and told us the company could open more locations in Prince William County following the opening of its new stores in Lake Ridge and Woodbridge. 

News
Grant allows NOVA to develop Cybersecurity Career Pathways Project

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Forest Park, Potomac high schools tapped to participate 

Updated

Two centers for higher learning in our area have announced new cyber security initiatives. 

Submitted by Prince William Department of Economic Development: 

Two Prince William County-based Higher Education Institutes – Northern Virginia Community College and ECPI University – have announced new programs to enhance expanded learning in the field of cybersecurity.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with two campuses located in Prince William County, received a $100,000 grant from Capital One Foundation to help develop the Cybersecurity Career Pathways Project that will inform and support middle and high school students in the Northern Virginia region who wish to explore and hopefully pursue a career in cybersecurity.  

ECPI University’s Northern Virginia campus has expanded its program offerings to include a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and a Bachelor of Science in Software Development.  The project aims to entice a future generation of cybersecurity workers and eventually fill a regional and national skills gap.

NOVA will be working as part of a cohort of 14 community colleges in D.C., Maryland, New York and Texas to develop some thematic areas of focus in relation to labor-market data and career pathways to create a pilot program with two Prince William County public high schools—Forest Park and Potomac—both chosen due to their high level of diversity and for the large number of students from underserved populations.

ECPI University’s decision to expand its offerings comes on the heels of Governor’s Terry McAuliffe’s recent call for a greater effort to draw more people towards careers in cyber and network security.  Both professions are in great demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with employment of software developers projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024 – much faster than the average for all occupations.  Demand for information security analysts is also on the rise. Consequently, the need for computer and information systems managers is growing as well, with employment of computer and information systems managers projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024.


Earn a Degree or Certificate in Less time with NOVA Weekend College @ the Woodbridge Campus

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Beginning in the spring 2017 semester, Northern Virginia Community College students can finish a semester’s worth of classes in only 14 weeks through the NOVA Weekend College @ the Woodbridge Campus.

NOVA Weekend College @ The Woodbridge Campus enables students to take an entire semester of classes in only two days. Adult learners who are busy balancing full-time jobs and family responsibilities can enroll in a 12-credit schedule of Friday and Saturday morning classes, with an option of selecting from a wide variety of classes needed to earn a degree or certification.

This new, innovative approach to accommodate those with busy schedules offers flexible, hybrid (half classroom & half online) courses that meet at 9 a.m. and/or 11 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with classes ending at 12:30 p.m. The rest of the work and class interaction is done at home using the internet.

“NOVA Weekend College @ the Woodbridge Campus offers a flexible schedule for busy working adults to take a full course load in only two mornings per week,” said Provost of the Woodbridge Campus, Dr. Sam Hill. “This new initiative provides an amazing opportunity for busy people in our region to earn a degree or certificate at a much faster pace, to advance and to become an expert in their chosen profession.”

Visit NVCC.EDU/WOODBRIDGEWEEKEND for more information. Online registration is open 24 hours a day at www.nvcc.edu/startstrong.

News
These new faces will help raise money for the Prince William Public Library

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From the Prince William Library Foundation: 

The Board of Directors of the Prince William Public Library System Foundation is happy to welcome new board members Bethanne Kim, Marlo Watson, D’Andrea Wooten, Caroline Shaaber, Bennie Herron and Greg Wright. Bethanne, Marlo, D’Andrea, Caroline, Bennie, and Greg will support the board’s efforts in raising funds for the library’s special programs and events.

Bethanne Kim is a self-published author of seven books under the pen name Liz Long. She is a blogger and brings to the position fundraising experience, community experience as a Cub master for her two sons Cub Scout pack. Her passion for libraries is a result of living 30-45 minutes from a library growing up. She feels strongly about having libraries with physical and program resources that invite kids and teens into the library so that it becomes a natural part of their lives and routines. She is a strong advocate for the new Haymarket Gainesville Community Library.

Marlo Watson is presently the President and Chief Engagement Officer of the Marlo Company, Inc., a talent and community development firm. She received her Master’s in Public Administration from Central Michigan University and has a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. Marlo brings to the Board more than 20 years of people and community development experience. She is very passionate about community and it is reflected in her service: Committee of 100 Secretary 2014-2015, graduate of Leadership Prince William 2015 and was awarded (one of five) Prince William County’s most influential women for 2016 and runner-up for 2015.

D’Andrea Wooten is currently on the Hylton Performing Arts Center Executive Board and the Tackett’s Mill/Clearbrook Foundation. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Santa Clara University. She has prior fiduciary responsibility for the operations of the Pohick Episcopal Church. She volunteers as the co-chair for the Education Commission at the Pohick Episcopal Church. She also volunteers with the Woodbridge Rotary Club and as Superintendent of Sunday Schools at Pohick Episcopal Church.

Caroline–Louise Shaaber is presently the Arts Recreation Specialist for Prince William County. She is the liaison between the County and the Prince William Arts Council. She has both an Interior Design and Architectural Drafting degree and various certifications in the Education field. She is the owner of Vision Finders, her design consulting company, and previously owned an Educational Franchise teaching young children language classes and camps; computer skills and STEM related camps. Raised in Europe, Caroline speaks five languages fluently. She has experience as a volunteer for numerous organizations in local and military communities. She is a member of Lake Ridge Rotary and a mother of two children.

Bennie Herron is presently an author and poet, and brings to the position a Master’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University and a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in creative writing with an emphasis in contemporary poetry from National University. He participates in the poetry scene locally and regionally. His love for quality education allows him to be a part of the solution by raising funds for the Foundation’s special projects in the community.

Greg Wright is presently the Surgical Technology Program Director and a Health and Medical Science teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA. He has served on the Virginia Department of Education Curriculum Writing Committee for Career and Technical Education. Greg graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Education. His prior work experience has been in the medical field and education. He lives in Dumfries, VA.

The six new members join a 21-member board that participates in the Foundation’s fundraising efforts.

News
Sheldon Levi retires as Occoquan Police Chief

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OCCOQUAN, Va. — Sheldon Levi, a familiar face in Occoquan, retired Tuesday night.

Levi had worked as the town’s Police Chief, Town Sargeant, and Acting Town Manager. He entered retirement during a ceremony at Occoquan Town Hall.

“I am one of the rare people who got to grow up and do the job he dreamt about as little boy,” Sheldon said at his send off.

Levi is the only police officer in the town. He is credited with expanding the department’s auxiliary force to save taxpayer money in the town of about 1,000 residents.

From Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Jovanovich:

“Levi began his law enforcement career in the City of Falls Church, VA as a Deputy Sheriff with the Falls Church Sheriff’s Office. Since that time, he has held law enforcement positions with the Towns of Haymarket and Quantico, before coming to Occoquan. In addition, Levi served as an Auxiliary Police Sergeant with the City of New York Police Department, served as a certified EMT, and provided and taught fire service photography.”

A replacement for Levi has not been named.

Traffic
Old Bridge Road crash snarls traffic in Lake Ridge, on Route 123

 

At least one crash on Old Bridge Road near the intersection of Tanyard Hill Road, prior to Clipper Drive, snarled traffic in eastern Prince William County.

Police and fire and rescue crews were working the crash scene about 6:30 p.m. 

Traffic on westbound Old Bridge Road was backed up for about two miles, from the crash scene to Route 123. Traffic headed south on Route 123 toward Interstate 95 was backed up 10 miles, from Old Bridge Road, across the Route 123 bridge into Fairfax County. 

We’re working to get info from Prince William police about the crash. 

News
The Force is strong with Boy Scout Troop 501: ‘Star Wars Days’ returning to Gar-Field High School

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Submitted by Justin Youtz, of Boy Scout Troop 501 in Woodbridge: 

Friends of Boy Scout Troop 501 is hosting Star Wars Days on December 3 and 4, 2016, at Gar-Field High School, 14000 Smoketown Road in Woodbridge.

Star Wars Days is a family friendly, fan convention for all things Star Wars, science fiction, comics, anime, cosplay, scouting, art and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Boy Scout Troop 501 was named after the 501st Legion in the Star Wars universe. Scouts in Troop 501 are huge Star Wars and science fiction fans, as well as, being students interested in STEM subjects.

A fan convention is a perfect way to celebrate all of these areas, in addition to being the annual fundraiser for Troop 501. Boy Scouts from Troop 501, along with their families, are responsible for locating vendors, promoting the event and working as staff at the convention.

Any profit from the event is shared with scouts to fund their scouting trips and training materials, community service projects, equipment, and uniforms.

It is the second year for the Star Wars Days event. Fans of every age are expected to attend, including members of the 501st Legion (a local Star Wars cosplay group).

Vendors are from Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and other states, and they will offer unique and fan items. New this year at the event are food trucks, including “Stay Cheesy,” a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich maker.

Winners of the Star Wars costume contest (adult and child) will receive cash prizes. There is a children’s area with theme craft items, artists will lead drawing activities, STEM area including 3D printers, demonstrations – from light saber fighting to rocket launches – and panel discussions. Boys Scouts may also sign up for specific merit badge classes and Cub Scouts can complete some advancement activities.

Advance tickets are available online at starwarsdays.com; click on the button at the top left of the page to pay by credit card. Advance tickets are $7 for Saturday or Sunday, or $12 for both days (plus service fee). Children age four and under are free. Tickets are $10 at the door. One-of-a-kind Star Wars Days t-shirts show posters and patches are also available for purchase.

Traffic
Traffic fixes for Old Bridge Road examined

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LAKE RIDGE, Va. — Drivers at Old Bridge and Minnieville roads will soon get some relief ahead of the opening of a new grocery store.

The left turn lanes at the intersection that carry drivers from Old Bridge Road to Minnieville Road will be extended 100 feet toward Clipper Drive. The improvements, to be paid for by the developer of a new Lidl grocery store to be built nearby, will allow between eight and 10 more cars to queue in the lanes. That’s in addition to the queue that already exists during the peak weekday evening rush hour times.

Right now, left-turning traffic backs up and out into Old Bridge Road. The lane extension comes after county transportation crews doubled the number of left turn lanes here from one to two.

Drivers at Old Bridge Road and Prince William Parkway will also see the addition of a new sign urging drivers to take a shorter route to Interstate 95. Drivers headed east on the Parkway at Old Bridge Road will soon see a sign that states “To I-95” directing them to veer to the right to remain on the wider, faster Prince William Parkway and not to stay straight on Old Bridge Road.

These two fixes were some of 50 ideas on how to improve transportation along major commuter thoroughfare Old Bridge Road, discussed at Occoquan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson’s Old Bridge Road Think Tank that met over the course of four meetings, with nearly 50 residents in attendance.

“We have to step out and start somewhere to make a difference to fix transportation issues in the district,” said Anderson, as she thanked Think Tank participants for participating in the ongoing effort.

Other traffic improvement ideas are borne out of the meetings include:

Add “Don’t Block the Box” sign at Route 123 and Old Bridge Road 

Traffic at this intersection (better known as a mixing bowl) is marred with drivers exiting Interstate 95 and entering Route 123, mixing with drivers existing drivers on Route 123 headed toward Fairfax County, or those turning left onto Old Bridge Road.

The area is a nightmare for drivers in afternoons, and it can be hairy for commuters during morning hours, too. Drivers exiting I-95 quickly jet across five lanes of traffic, to include two signal lights, to turn left on Old Bridge Road

A “don’t block the box” sign could potentially improve traffic flow at the intersection, said Prince William County Transportation Director Rick Canizales.

But signs can’t fix everything.

“It really comes down to how much [police] enforcement you have at the intersection,” he added.

 Old Bridge Road and Oakwood Drive

The extension of a left turn lane from Old Bridge Road to Oakwood Drive is being studied. While transportation planners aren’t completely sold on the idea of extending the lane because they don’t know how much more queuing spaces would be gained, they say an extension could resolve a backup on Old Bridge Road during the evening hours.

Expanding or widening left turn lanes at Old Bridge Road and Westridge Drive

Just like the proposed project at Oakwood Drive, officials are not clear on how much more queueing space would be gained if the lanes were expanded. The project could resolve a backup that affects drivers at all times of the day.

Occoquan and Old Bridge roads

The majority of traffic complaint calls to Supervisor Anderson’s office are about the backup at a signal light at Occoquan and Old Bridge roads, said Alex Stanley, and aide to Anderson.

Drivers say they don’t appreciate the extended length of time they must wait at a signal light to turn onto Old Bridge Road. Becuase of the way the signal light is timed, drivers on the wider Old Bridge Road enjoy a longer green light at this intersection. The aim is to move more cars on Old Bridge Road, said Virginia Department of Transportation Land Use Director Richard Burke.

Transportation planners are examining what it would cost to add a “right turn on red” lane at this intersection, as well as straighten Occoquan Road, which is curved throughout its intersection with Old Bridge Road.

Utility poles located along Occoquan Road east of Old Bridge Road, as well as steep terrain, would increase the cost of the project, Canizales said.

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