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BerkleyNet finds the secret to attracting and keeping talent — make them feel valued

Editors note: This sponsored post is the first in a monthly series written by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Potomac Local.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — An insurance company headquartered in Prince William County encourages young professionals to write on the walls.

This is not your typical coverage provider.

Started in a warehouse in Manassas in 2006, tech firm BerkleyNet is a leader in forward-thinking business growth in Prince William County. BerkleyNet is a member company of W. R. Berkley Corporation, a Fortune 500 company.

Headquartered in Innovation Technology Park in Prince William County, their business is entirely online, a unique concept for a firm that provides workers compensation insurance.

In just 11 years they have grown from six to over 200 employees. The majority are headquartered in Prince William County, with satellite offices in places like Minneapolis, Nashville, Tenn. and Las Vegas.

John Goldwater, BerkleyNet’s former President, and CEO, has gone on to become an Executive Vice President of W. R. Berkley Corporation. Five founding employees remain on BerkleyNet’s senior leadership team.

The most unique aspect of their business growth? They hire curious problem-solvers, encourage ownership and invest in their employees. (more…)

News
Free admission today at the Prince William County Fair

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You can get in free this afternoon to the 68th Annual Prince William County Fair.

Everyone who comes between to 2 and 5 p.m. will get free admission to the fairgrounds as part of Free Gate Admission Day. Tickets are required once again after 5 p.m. and are sold for $10 for each adult or $6 for children or seniors.

The Power Wheels Derby will take place tonight in the grandstand. Children, ages 3 to 5 will participate in the first round at 5 p.m., and then children ages 6 to 10 will go at 5:30 p.m.

For the main event at 7 p.m. in the grandstand, yard warriors will bring their green machines for the annual garden tractor pull.

Other events in the far include No Joes Circus, the Butterfly Experience, chainsaw art, Jurassic Kingdom, the rides on the midway, and more.

Tomorrow night is ladies night at the fair. The gates open at 5 p.m. and all ladies are free. The demolition derby returns to the grandstand at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The fair is open today from 2 until 10 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., and on the final day of the fair Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m.

*Photos: Keith Walker, Prince William County Government 



Governor McAuliffe breaks ground on I-395 Express Lanes extension

Reliable and faster travel choices coming on I-395 Corridor 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and its private partner and operator of the I-95 Express Lanes, Transurban, to break ground on the start of construction of an eight-mile extension of the I-395 Express Lanes from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. border. The project provides more options for faster and more reliable travel in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country and expands the region’s network of express lanes. The project includes a long-term investment in transit for the corridor, through a yearly payment of $15 million (to be escalated annually) that will be paid by Transurban to the Commonwealth. This annual transit payment will support transit and multimodal initiatives benefitting the corridor.

“Anyone who travels on I-395 and I-95 today can attest that this is one of the most congested corridors in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Today’s groundbreaking is the first project of the Commonwealth’s larger Atlantic Gateway Initiative which aims to unlock the I-95 Corridor. The Atlantic Gateway Initiative and the I-395 project demonstrate how we can work with our public and private partners to improve the quality of life for Virginians and our visitors – and keep our new Virginia economy growing.”

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne added, “Under Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, today’s milestone is one more step toward expanding the express lanes network in Northern Virginia, and providing travelers with much-needed travel choices to reach their destinations faster. The key benefit continues to be options, and we are ready to focus on delivering this new choice on 395.”

The I-395 Express Lanes project provides specific benefits for the thousands of commuters who work at or near the Pentagon, as well as the many carpoolers or commuter bus users transferring at the Pentagon to continue to their destination. By reconstructing the Pentagon’s South Parking area and adding new bus lanes and HOV commuter and “slug” lanes to improve traffic flow and safety for buses and carpools, the project’s benefits extend well beyond the express lanes.

Other key project features include adding a fourth regular lane on I-395 South between the Duke Street and Edsall Road Interchanges, to help relieve the congestion which occurs when I-395 shrinks from four to three lanes in this area. Additionally, the project includes rehabilitating several I-395 bridges, and building new sound walls to protect neighboring communities.

The project is anticipated to cost approximately $500 million, with a combination of private and public funds. The project is one element of the Commonwealth’s Atlantic Gateway Program, a series of major improvements to the I-95/I-395 corridor.

“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to deliver a critical missing link that will connect Express Lanes customers to new destinations along I-395 and Washington D.C.,” said Jennifer Aument, Group General Manager, North America, Transurban. “Crews will begin work right away on improvements that are going to help drivers on I-395 get home faster, while also generating funds to support new transit options. As construction begins, we encourage all travelers to stay alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and keep an eye out for workers on the road.”

Plans to extend the Express Lanes began in November 2015 with a Framework Agreement under the 95 Express Lanes Comprehensive Agreement between VDOT and Transurban. In February 2017, after meeting specific project-delivery and financial criteria, the Commonwealth approved Transurban’s proposal to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the 395 Express Lanes extension.

AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction are under contract to Transurban to design and build the extended 395 Express Lanes. The express lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019 and the other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020.

Construction of the expanded express lanes will occur largely within VDOT’s right-of-way; however, some work such as sound wall construction may require crews to access right-of-way and areas adjacent to the project corridor. Preliminary work such as geotechnical investigations and surveying began last March.

More information about the project is available at: 395expresslanes.com and virginiadot.org/395express

 

News
Adopt Me Wednesday: Reggie is neutered and gets along great with other dogs

The Stafford County Animal Shelter as a furry friend waiting for his forever home. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

His name is Reggie. He’s about 2-3 years old! Very energetic and playful!

Gets along great with other dogs, but we aren’t sure about kitties. He is neutered and up to date on his vaccines. He was found as a stray so we aren’t sure if he is housebroken or not.

Reggie also does better with older children as he can get a little rough with little ones when he plays

You can visit the animal shelter’s website for more information, as well as see operating hours so you can visit Reggie and other animals in Stafford County.

News
Saved Hands Foundation is preparing for School Back Pack Giveaway

· Good morning Prince William – Saved Hands Foundation is in the final week preparing for their Annual August Back to School Back Pack Giveaway! It’s as easy as picking up a few extra items this week and dropping them off starting at 12 noon on Saturday, August 12th at Potomac Library, 2201 Opitz Blvd. in Woodbridge. Please help a kid start the new school year with the basics to make them be successful. Contact Pamela at 703-895-6681 for more info.

· Merrimac Farm is looking for volunteers to help in the gardens on both Saturday, August 12th and August 26th, 9 a.m.- 12 noon. Come get your hands dirty and enjoy. Please call (703) 499-4954 for more info.

· Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has the best deal in town for all you crab lovers- come join their event at VFW Post 1503 on Minnieville Road for all you can eat crabs, flounder, wing dings, corn on the cob, potatoes, beans and much more for just $65 a ticket- wow! This event supports their scholarship and public service fund. Please check out their website at pwcacdst.org to purchase tickets.

· Habitat for Humanity in Manassas needs volunteers to help at the Restore. It’s a super fun, busy place. Please sign up on their volunteer calendar for the shift that works best for you: habitatpwc.org. (more…)

Time is running out for summer reading, but it’s not too late

Time is running out, but it’s not too late!

Explore Summer Reading 2017

With school just around the corner, it is time to dust off those thinking caps and get ready to learn. But don’t do it alone, stop by your closest Prince William Public Library branch and score some fun prizes while getting back in the groove.

In less than six visits (YES, six visits), you will have the opportunity to win some amazing food coupons, free books and be entered to win a brand-new flip laptop (for kids) or a Beats Pill by Dre® (for young adults).  Either visit pwcgov.org/summerreading or head on over to any Prince William Public Library branch to sign up. Once you have your passport (for kids) or punch card (for young adults), just tell us what you’re reading each time you visit the library and watch the stamps and punches roll in.

Don’t worry, adults, because you can participate in Explore Summer Reading, too! You don’t even have to register. Whenever you come into the library, fill out an entry form with the name of a book you’ve read. We will hold a drawing for a Target gift card at each of our eleven branches each week for all nine weeks of summer reading. (more…)



New Listing: 8510 General Way

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New listing!! 8510 General Way, Manassas Park, Va. 20111. Move-in ready three-level townhouse in excellent commuter location! Large eat-in kitchen with convenient pantry. Open and bright living room & dining room combination with sliding glass doors leading to oversized deck. Master suite with full bath and double closets. Full finished walk-out basement with den, laundry, full bath & family room overlooking brick paver patio, fenced backyard, backing to common area and playground. New roof, carpet & recent HVAC & H2O heater. Minutes to VRE,

Large eat-in kitchen with convenient pantry. Open and bright living room & dining room combination with sliding glass doors leading to oversized deck. Master suite with full bath and double closets. Full finished walk-out basement with den, laundry, full bath & family room overlooking brick paver patio, fenced backyard, backing to common area and playground. New roof, carpet & recent HVAC & H2O heater. Minutes to VRE, shopping, and restaurants.

Contact C.C. Bartholomew at 703-282-4800 or email cc@ccbartholomew.com email 



Bat Houses: Dos and Don’ts

Have you ever thought about installing a bat house? 

Bats are vital to our environment. People who install bat houses help sustain local bat populations.

They benefit bats, you, your family, local gardeners, farmers and the ecosystem. Bat populations have decreased significantly, and bat houses provide a secure habitat for bats to live.

Rest assured, it’s safe and helpful to have bats in your backyard.

Bats play an important role in keeping populations of night-flying insects in check. One bat alone can catch hundreds of insects in an hour. Bats also control species of moths and beetles that cost American farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually.

The best place to install a bat house is high up and oriented south/southeast. Make sure the bat house is a minimum of 10 to 12 feet high. Placing it even higher up, up to 20 feet, will increase chances of attracting more bats.

Ideally, the bats will receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. Bats prefer a location that gets early sunlight and continues to get direct sunlight throughout the day.

Water should be within a quarter of a mile of the bat house. Viable water sources include, but are not limited to, creeks, small ponds, home garden ponds and possible even pools. Bat houses located near a large water source tend to be more successful.

Avoid placing the bat house on trees, as they attract predators and their foliage may block sunlight. Tree branches should be at least 20 to 25 feet away, as they are potential perches for aerial predators. A pole in the right location is a great place to put a bat house. However, do check to be sure the pole is NOT an active service pole.

Beware of attaching a bat house to your home – consider the excrement that bat colonies generate. Avoid placing bat houses above doors or windows because of this reason. Wood, brick or stone buildings work best.

Written by Beejal Ved, of the Prince William Conservation Alliance

Photo: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

News
Church members donate 7,000 pounds of food for families in need

From Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington:

“It’s the summertime, and a lot of people are on vacation, so to get this amount of food is impressive and greatly needed.”
-Vince A. Cannava
Program Director, St. Lucy Food Project

A weekend food collection for hungry children at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville has workers and volunteers thrilled at the St. Lucy Food Project, a program with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. A summer food drive at the church yielded an unprecedented 7,000 pounds in food donations for this time of year.

The food was collected after Masses on Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30, by the Knights of Columbus council at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and then transported to the St. Lucy Food Project hub in Manassas. From there, the food will be distributed to local pantries and various pantries throughout the 21 counties and 7 independent cities of the Diocese of Arlington as needed.

The food was collected after Masses on Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30, by the Knights of Columbus council at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and then transported to the St. Lucy Food Project hub in Manassas. From there, the food will be distributed to local pantries and various pantries throughout the 21 counties and 7 independent cities of the Diocese of Arlington as needed. (more…)

News
New members fill Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors

MANASSAS — There are some new members on the Habitat for Humanity Prince William County Board of Directors. 

From an email: 

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County recently held elections to its Board of Directors for Fiscal Year 2018.

New board members include Rob Major (L), President of Major Home Inspections, a family-owned business in Prince William County, who was elected to serve a three-year term ending in 2020. Mr. Major previously served on Habitat’s board from 2006-2012. He was also elected to serve as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for a one-year term. Chuck Rector (R), Vice President of Weber Rector Commercial Real Estate Services based in Manassas, was also elected to a three-year term and will serve as Treasurer of the Board for one year. Chuck has more than twenty-five years of experience as a commercial general contractor and developer and is well known in the business community for his service on non-profit and industry-related boards and committees.

Chuck Rector (R), Vice President of Weber Rector Commercial Real Estate Services based in Manassas, was also elected to a three-year term and will serve as Treasurer of the Board for one year. Chuck has more than twenty-five years of experience as a commercial general contractor and developer and is well known in the business community for his service on non-profit and industry-related boards and committees. (more…)

News
Update: Alexandria man sought on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer

From Prince William County police:

The citizen asked the suspect for identification and the name of his supervisor. The suspect then immediately went back to his vehicle and left the area. – On July 31 at 6:41 a.m., officers responded to investigate a suspicious vehicle which was reported in the area of Williamson Boulevard and Duneiden Lane in Manassas. The investigation revealed a citizen was stopped at the traffic light on Sudley Road at Williamson Boulevard, attempting to make a left turn.

A driver of a blue, 2007 Ford Crown Victoria was also stopped at the same signal in an adjacent lane next to the citizen. When the vehicles made the left turn onto Williamson Blvd, the suspect vehicle got behind the citizen’s car and activated red and blue flashing lights which were mounted in the grill and visor area. (more…)

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Artist brings color, light to old Lorton prison guard towers

LORTON — Riding or walking along the Gerry Connolly Cross Country Trail by the Occoquan River one might be struck by the colors radiating off the old guard tower windows of what was Lorton Prison.

Martin Cervantez is counting on that.

Cervantez is a self-taught artist, has been painting since he was a child, and is currently a Studio Artist at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center.

Cervantez spent the past two and a half years at the Workhouse staring at the blank towers.

“I imagined color in the windows of the old guard towers, and I thought they were perfect candidates for placing some art there,” he said.

His latest project, “The Beacons of Peace, Love, and Strength” is doing just that. It is his largest project to date and his first outdoor design.

It’s also the first time he is not using paint for a project — an unusual venture for a painter. Cervantez is using transparent PVC tape to decorate the windows to stand up to the elements of exposure.

He started a GoFundMe in February to help offset the material costs and began the window project this past spring. To date, he’s raised $3,460 toward his $10,000 goal, and he is still seeking donations.

The Beacons of Peace, Love, and Strength name was born because he thought it was the perfect name for the prison reform art project.

“It is everything that is opposite of despair,” he explained. (more…)

News
Man suspected of domestic related abduction arrested

Michael Kelly Puckett, previously sought for abduction and domestic assault and battery has been located and arrested by police, thanks to an anonymous tip. 

From Prince William County police:

Abduction | Domestic Related *ARREST – On July 25, officers located the accused, Michael Kelly PUCKETT, who was wanted in connection to a domestic altercation which occurred at a residence located in the 10400 block of Lonesome Road in Nokesville on July 23. Police received an anonymous tip, which ultimately led officers to his location where he was arrested without incident.

Arrested on July 25:
Michael Kelly PUCKETT, 48, of the 10400 block of Lonesome Rd in Nokesville
Charged with abduction, domestic assault & battery, and destruction of property
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

Abduction | Domestic Related [Previously Released] – On July 23 at 3:30 a.m., officers responded to investigate a domestic call which occurred earlier that morning at a residence located in the 10400 block of Lonesome Rd in Nokesville. The investigation revealed that the victim, a 48-year-old woman of Nokesville, was involved in a verbal altercation with the accused, a family member, which escalated.  (more…)

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Police charge man identifying himself as Cowboy’s player Lucky Whitehead

Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys was recently charged with petit larceny and wanted for failure to appear in court, or so Prince William County Police thought. According to police, an individual arrested for those crimes, not possessing identification verbally identified himself as Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr. to include the date of birth and social security number. 

From Prince William County police:

Upon reviewing the June 22, 2017 arrest of an individual named “Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr.”, the police department is confident that the man charged with petit larceny, and who is subsequently being sought on an active warrant for failure to appear in court, is not Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys.

The man charged on the morning of June 22 was not in possession of identification at the time of the encounter; however, did verbally provide identifying information to officers, which included a name, date of birth, and social security number matching that of Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr. Officers then checked this information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database. The DMV photo on file was then used to compare to the man who was in custody. (more…)

News
Surovell: Voluntary background check system is a failure

In 2016, the General Assembly enacted a legislation requiring the Virginia State Police to staff gun shows and be available to conduct voluntary background checks upon request by private, non-federally licensed gun sellers as part of a broader compromise on concealed weapon permits. The law has been a total failure.

The legislation required the state to spend $300,000 to hire three new Virginia State Police employees to be present at all gun shows. What have we got for our $300,000?

In January, The Daily Press reported that as of January 1, 2017, one person was denied a purchase at 41 gun shows after thirty-nine checks. (more…)

News
Call if you can, but Text to 911 is now available in Prince William

From Prince William County:

Calling is still the best way to contact 911 in an emergency, but in certain situations, a text might be better. The Prince William County Office of Public Safety Communications can now accept text-to-911 emergency messages from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless customers who find themselves needing assistance in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The service should only be used when someone has a physical disability or special need where calling is not possible or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.

Certain communities will find text-to-911 particularly helpful, said Prince William Public Safety Communications Director Captain Alfred Miller. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, those with speech disabilities or who are unable to speak, and community service or suicide hotlines will find the service useful.

The texts can be up to 140 characters and should include the location and type of emergency. They should be short, with simple words, and without abbreviations or slang. People should be prepared to answer questions and follow directions provided by the 911 call taker. They should not text and drive. (more…)

News
Mark your calendar for the Walk to End Alzheimer on October 21

Good morning Prince William – Leesylvania State Park is looking for volunteers every Monday until Labor Day 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for lots of fun clean-up projects. Gather your work clothes, boots, water bottle, and friends to join in the fun. Please call (703) 583-6904 to learn more.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for a volunteer of Pakistani heritage to walk 1-2 times a month with a gentleman who lives in Springfield. What a great way to share your experiences with another. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext. 232 to learn more

· Think cool fall weather! Mark your calendar for the Walk to End Alzheimer on Saturday, October 21 at the Harris Pavilion. Volunteers are needed with event set-up, clean-up, refreshments, route monitoring and much more. Please email Ben at: bedonnelly@alz.org to learn more.

· The National Counseling Group is collecting school supplies for at-risk kids. Items needed include backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils to name just a few. Donation boxes at set up at each one of their locations including 9301 Forest Point Circle in Manassas. (more…)

News
Price for senior pass to National Parks to increase

Since 1994 the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass has been $10, but as a result of legislation passed in December of 2016, that price will increase to $80. The price hike is expected to take effect August 28 2017, so seniors are encouraged to act soon if they wish to purchase a senior pass. 

 

From Prince William Forest Park:

Seniors over age 62 may want to purchase a lifetime pass soon. The price goes up on August 28th, 2017. To qualify, you must be an American citizen or permanent resident of the United States and pay the $10 fee. This pass is a lifetime pass to National Parks and other federal recreation lands. When the supply at the Visitor Center is out, it’s out. (more…)

News
Prince William County to sponsor Serious Play Conference

Prince William County is hosting for the first time the Serious Play Conference, a program that encourages the application of game mechanics for education and training.

The conference also looks to educate students of potential career options in the field, and bring together pioneers in the field to share what they’ve learned. 

From a press release:

Prince William County Department of Economic Development is proud to sponsor this year’s industry-leading Serious Play Conference taking place on July 18-20, 2017, at the George Mason University Science & Technology Campus, Prince William County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

More than 100 thought leaders driving the adoption of game-based and simulation learning will gather to share experiences in implementing serious games. They represent leading public and private institutions including the U.S. DOD, private industry sectors and higher education, according to a press release.

DOD training leads, contractors, state and local government CIOs will share what they’ve learned training the country’s armed forces with developers and instructional designers from the serious games industry.

This year’s speakers include training personnel from the Office of National Intelligence; the Center for Deployment Psychology; Defense University; UCF; OPM; contractors from the Veterans Affairs Administration, the Army and the Navy; police departments; prisons; as well as companies implementing gamification programs, healthcare providers, researchers, developers, instructional designers and K-12 faculty using games in education, according to Serious Play. (more…)

News
Woodbridge VFW Post Commander achieves All-American status

From Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce, Charles P. “Chuck” Wilson has achieved “All-American” status as a Post Commander (2014-2017). Wilson, outgoing commander of Post 7916 in Occoquan, VA, is one of only 279 of 6,500 (Top .04%) VFW Post commanders worldwide to earn the title of All-American Commander. 

To achieve this honor, Post commanders must meet strict requirements in their role to include exceptional leadership, authentic accomplishment in membership growth and strong support of VFW core programs. Chuck Wilson is now Commander of District 10, Virginia’s largest District with over 8,000 Veteran and Auxiliary members. (more…)

News
Fire department reform would give chief ultimate say

WOODBRIDGE — Major reforms are coming to the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department.

After 16 months and meetings and deliberation, career and volunteer firefighters and medics appear to have a found a new model for the system that is charged with providing emergency services for the county’s nearly half a million residents.

Fire and rescue leaders told the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday it wants to adopt a new organizational model known commonly as the “strong chief” operation, which places one person solely in charge of career and volunteer firefighters. The move would also bring with it the formation of a new fire and rescue advisory committee which would help the chief in setting policy and guidelines for the entire department to follow and would provide counsel to McGee– whose been the county’s fire chief for the past 10 years.

The move would dissolve the county’s existing Fire and Rescue Association; a body made up of both career and volunteer officers who have voting and veto powers when it comes to developing and adopting rules for the operation of the combined department.

“This will be a significant change to our fire and rescue system,” McGee told the Board of Supervisors. (more…)

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