WE ARE LOCAL News in Prince William, Virginia



Lake Ridge

Memorial Day Closings

It’s the annual, unofficial start to summer! Memorial Day weekend is here, the time where we take an extra day off of work to honor those who have served their country. Because it’s a holiday, it won’t be business as usual for many municipal agencies.

Fairfax County
Government offices – Closed Monday May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30

Prince William County
Government offices – Closed Monday ,May 20, 2011

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30, 2011

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 20, 2011

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, 2011, neighborhood libraries closed Saturday, May 28 through May 20, 2011. All branches to reopen May 31, 2011.

Stafford County
Government offices – Closed Monday, May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 30. Will reopen Tuesday, May 31 for regular business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. Will reopen normal hours Tuesday, May 31.

Traffic and Transit

I-95 / 395 / 66 High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
HOV Resrtrictions lifted Monday May 30, 2011

I-95/395 lanes to run southbound from 1 p.m. Friday, May 27 until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28. Lanes will run northbound from 4 p.m. through the remainder of the weekend.
The lanes will CLOSE to regular traffic Sunday for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle event, between 7:30 and 11 a.m.

Fairfax Connector Bus – Sunday schedule on Monday, May 30, 2011

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission – No service Monday, May 30, 2011

Virginia Railway Express – No Service Monday, May 30, 2011

Metrorail – Washington’s Metrorail will conduct track maintenance over the weekend. Riders are asked to plan ahead for delays.

Antietam Pack 1364 Holds Promotion Ceremony

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Lake Ridge, Va. –
– Monday night Cub Scout Pack 1364 promoted 53 scouts to their next rank.  Pack 1364 operates out of Antietam Elementary School, but is open to any age-eligible child in the community.

During the promotion ceremony, each den, a group comprised of between 6 and 8 boys, was called up individually to receive new handkerchiefs which the boys wear around their necks as part of their uniforms.  Proud parents accompanied their children to be recognized by the assembly.  Cub Scouts has five levels, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos 1 and Webelos 2 which are for boys from first to fifth grade.

“I challenge each of you to be an example for the boys below you” charged Cub Master Jeff Segal after the scouts had been promoted. The ceremony also featured a flag ceremony, several scout cheers, a skit and a song, all performed by the various dens.

Isaac, who was promoted from Bear to Webelos 1 said he enjoys the scouting program and plans to continue for as long as possible.  “I worked hard and got a lot of belt loops this year.  It was cool.” said Isaac.

Pack 1364’s next meeting will be July 16th at Lake Ridge Marina and new scouts are welcome to join.  An RSVP is appreciated and details can be found at pack1364.org.

Have some great community news? Write it and send it to us.

Around Town

Teacher raises on the way
Teachers in Stafford County will get step raises during the next school year, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Unpopular commuter lot
Despite a shuttle bus and two new Slug lines, still too few people are using a commuter lot at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, reports Insidenova.com.

Bus fares raised
It’s going to cost you more to ride FRED buses in Stafford and Fredericksburg, reports Fredericksburg Patch.

Fairfax buses to change routes near Ft. Belvoir
Fairfax Connector bus service is expanding as the BRAC closure/open date draws near, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

No Walmart for Wilderness
Walmart  won’t build a new store on the site of a Civil War battlefield in Wilderness, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Cycling Commuters Treated to Coffee, Pastries

Jim Haugan of Village Skis and Bikes in Lake Ridge helps inspect a bicycle with Bike to Work Day Volunteers Marilyn Schultz and Mike Campbell.

Woodbridge, Va. –– It was Bike to Work Day across the Washington area today, and 29 people signed up to bike to work from the Chinn Fitness and Aquatics Center in Woodbridge.

This was one of 49 pit stops in Virginia, Maryland and Washington that had breakfast, coffee and t-shirts for those who traded in their cars for a pair of pedals.

“This is the first year we’ve done this, and we’ve had an awesome turn out this morning,” said Chinn Center General Manager Sally Wood.

Both pit stops in the Potomac Communities –– Chinn Aquatic Center and the Virginia Railway Express Rippon station –– were open from 6 until 9 a.m.

Jim Haugan owns Village Skis and Bikes in Lake Ridge, and says cycling has caught on among empty nesters (those whose children have moved out of the home) over the past 26 years he’s been in business.

“I wish we had more bike lanes and places to ride bikes in the area, but events like this help keep cycling the public eye,” said Haugan.

Bike to Work Day is a free event open to everyone, and riders are encouraged to sign up at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website.

Everyone who registered received a free Bike to Work Day t-shirt.

Registrants for Bike to Work Day were also invited to make a weekend out of the event, and were offered discounts on participating in a larger group bike ride, Bike D.C. Day, to be held Sunday.

Rape Reported in Lake Ridge

Franklin Dennis Winters, 22, is chagred with rape. (Submitted)

Lake Ridge, Va. –– Police say a 21-year-old woman awoke to find she was being raped.

It happened at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday in the 12300 block of Wadsworth Way off Springwoods Drive in Lake Ridge, police say.

The victim fell asleep inside her bedroom and was awoken by the alleged rapist, who is an acquaintance, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The suspect was found a short time after the rape occurred and was arrested, police say.

Franklin Dennis Winters, 22, of Dumfries, is charged with rape and was held without bond, said Perok.

He is scheduled to appear in court June 2.

Slide show: Protesters Show for Fish Out

Ray Morris and his grandson, 6-year-old James, had plenty of luck fishing for trout at “Fish Out” held at the Tall Oaks Community Center in Lake Ridge. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Lake Ridge, Va. –– The “Fish Out” began Friday at noon, and grandparents and parents alike trickled into the Tall Oaks Community Center to find a brown, murky pool stocked with trout.

The annual week-long event always draws a crowd, but this year it drew the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Three members of the activist group stood outside the community center, one dressed as a fish, holding signs that stated “fishing hurts.”

Earlier this week, PETA urged its supporters to protest the event, putting it on its watch list, stating that scientific research showed fish feel pain when caught, and that children should not be taught to catch and kill fish for fun.

After about an hour the protesters left and the fishing continued.

“This is just like going to the trout pond when you were a kid,” said Jennifer Thompson. “It’s not cruel to do this. I’ve never thought fishing was cruel.”

Ray Morris brought his 6-year-old grandson, James, to catch some fish. He says trout make for a great dinner.

“We’ve been out here since 12:30 and we caught our first one about 2 o’clock. We’ve tried all kinds of things, like using bacon as bait, but we’ve had little success today,” said Morris.

The Fish Out is held by the Lake Ridge Property Owners Association and will continue throughout the week, or until the fish in the pool have all been caught.

Organizers say the fish come from a hatchery in Virginia, and that the event is a family affair that coincides with spring break.

The property owners association charges $7 per person to fish, rents fishing poles, sells bait, and charges $4 per fish for anyone who catches more than two.

Though the fish were in a confined swimming pool, no one said they would be easy to catch. Signs posted around the pool stated “trout are a wily fish, we cannot guarantee you will catch anything, the fishing fee is non refundable.”

Once all of the fish have been caught, the pool will be drained of its murky water left over from last summer, cleaned, and the pool reopened for business for the start of summer.

Despite PETA Cries, Fish Out Will Go On

Lake Ridge, Va. –– An annual fishing event will go on despite cries from an animal rights group.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, says Lake Ridge’s annual “fish out” is in humane.

The neighborhood’s property owners association plans to bring 750 rainbow trout from a hatchery in Goshen in the western Virginia on Friday, drop them in a swimming pool at the Tall Oaks Community Center and let residents fish them out.

The property owners association started the event four years ago and says it’s a great way to bring families together prior to the start of the summer pool season.

“This is a fun event we started after I got an email from a friend in Texas that said they did something similar there, and that we had to check it out. We already do a doggie paddle in the pool, so anyone who knows me knows in not adverse to putting animals in the pool for fun events,” said Shirley Couteau, with the Lake Ridge Property Owners Association.

LRPRA sells bait and rents fishing poles for the family-oriented event, which begins at noon Friday and lasts throughout the weekend.

But PETA has placed the event on its popular action alert website, asking residents to contact the LRPRA and ask them to stop the event.

“What about impaling animals on a metal hook and dragging them into the open air to suffocate says ‘family fun’?” asks PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a press release. “With so many other pool activities to choose from, there’s simply no excuse for tormenting fish for entertainment.”

The organization says fish have the ability to communicate and to feel pain, and if dogs and cats were treated in the same manner residents participating in the event would most likely be charged with animal cruelty.

Couteau says the event is a friendly way to introduce people to fishing.

“We respect their opinion, and we’re sorry they decided to pick on us and put us on their radar. But the warm fuzzies we get from the event, seeing families together, outweigh the negatives,” said Couteau.

Slug Changes Focus of Next Town Hall Meeting

Brenda Higgins, a commuter affected by the parking changes at Potomac Mills mall, waits to add her comment at a town hall meeting held in Woodbridge in February 2011. (File)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Commuters will have another chance to be heard this month at a town hall meeting.

Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi and Occoquan Supervisor Mike May will hold commuter town hall at 7 p.m. March 23 at the Ferlazzo Building on U.S. 1 Woodbridge.

Last month, the two leaders held a similar meeting to discuss the loss of 750 commuter parking spaces at Potomac Mills mall. Since then the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge near Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road agreed to lease 350 commuter parking spaces to the county for resident’s use.

“At our last town hall, we heard loud and clear that our commuters wanted parking spaces close to Potomac Mills with enough capacity to slug so their lives were not completely disrupted.   I believe we accomplished this goal,” said Principi.

At the end of the last town hall, many commuters said they would be interested in attending another meeting. This time, officials want to learn more about how commuters are coping with the changes.

“The purpose of the follow up meeting is to update the community as to the logistics of the new First Baptist leased lot, including what bus routes will come through and what slug lines may form.  We will also receive community feedback as to how commuter patterns have changed following the Potomac Mills reduction in spaces,” said May.

Following the loss of the mall parking spaces, Slugs (those who ride in vehicles of three or more occupants to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on Interstate 95 and 395) bound for Arlington were told to begin parking at a commuter lot off Gemini Way in Dale City. Those bound for Washington could still continue to park at the mall’s remaining 250 spaces designated for commuter parking.

Late last month, state transportation officials said construction would soon begin on a $7.8 million, 600-space commuter lot near the existing Horner Road lot in Woodbridge.

The lot will be built on the site of an old commuter bus garage.

24-HR Medical Center Planned for Lake Ridge

An artist’s rendition of a new health facility that will sit at the intersection of Minnieville and Summit School roads in Lake Ridge. (Submitted)

Lake Ridge, Va. — Lake Ridge is the neighborhood next in line for a 24-hour emergency medical center.

Sentara Health Care announced the new center should open early next year at  the intersection of Minnieville and Summit School roads, and will offer physician, advanced imaging and laboratory services.

When finished, the new 43,500 square foot facility will ease the patient load at Potomac Hospital, which was designed to accommodate 40,000 patients per year but is now seeing about 60,000 per year, according to Sentara spokeswoman Charlene Wilkins.

While the medical center will be staffed with board-certified physicians, Wilkins says patients who will be seen at the Lake Ridge center may still be taken at doctor’s orders to Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge in serious cases.

Sentara chose to build the new center in Lake Ridge because the U.S. Census Bureau estimates population is expected to grow there by 9.6 percent over the next five years to 206,772, said Wilkins.

Commuters vent at town hall meeting

Brenda Higgins, a commuter affected by the parking changes at Potomac Mills mall, waits to add her comment at a town hall meeting held in Woodbridge on Wednesday. (Eric Spiegel)

By Eric Spiegel
For PotomacLocal.com

Woodbridge, Va. –– Brenda Higgins told a panel of officials she wouldn’t be shopping at Potomac Mills mall any time soon.

The panel was gathered for the commuter parking town hall meeting held in Woodbridge on Wednesday night.  Higgins was among many who were angered by the decision by outlet mall to reduce commuter parking from 1,000 spaces to 275. (more…)

Parking reduction could force commuting, work changes

There are several commuter lots in the Woodbridge area.

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

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

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

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

Church could ease parking woes

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

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

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

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

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

Fewer parking spaces got you bummed? You have options

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

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

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

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

Police nab man in Lake Ridge burglaries

Jason Thomas Blake, 29, of Woodbridge, faces charges in a string of burglaries that have occurred in that neighborhood since Dec. 16. (Submitted)

Lake Ridge, Va. –– An arrest has been made in case of a series of burglaries in Lake Ridge.

Jason Thomas Blake, 29, of Woodbridge, faces charges in a string of burglaries that have occurred in that neighborhood since Dec. 16.

During the spree, police believe at least 12 homes have been burglarized, and more than $60,000 in valuables taken from the homes combined.

Blake is one of two suspects police believe is behind the burglaries. He is charged with two counts of burglary, three counts of grand larceny, three counts of destruction of property, one count of obtaining money under false pretenses, drug possession charges and one contempt of court charge which stems from a previous arrest warrant for him reports NBCWashington.com.

Police are still looking for the second suspect in the case.

Most of the burglaries have taken place during daytime hours with the intruders entering the house through a rear door.

In some cases, the burglars have used bricks and rocks to smash windows and gain entry to homes.

D.C. forces slugs from 14th Street

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

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

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

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

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

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