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Region to readying to welcome 12,000 athletes for Fairfax World Police & Fire Games

Prince William County is getting in on the action during the Fairfax 2015 World Police and Fire Games.

Dubbed the Olympics of public safety personnel, the games will take place June 26 to July 5. More than 12,000 firefighters and police officers currently serving or retired, from all over the globe, are expected to descend apron the area. They’re expected to bring with them some 30,000 spectators, according to Fairfax 2015.

Of the 53 venues where the games will take place, to include baseball, basketball, cycling, clay shooting, motor cross racing, tennis, and karate just to name a few nine will be held on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University.

In Prince William, here’s a list of competitions being held in the county:

  • Prince William Forest Park – Cycling time trials
  • Prince William Ice Center in Dale City – Ice hockey 35+
  • Quantico – Rifle range bore

Other venues are scatted throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Participants will register for the competition and will gather during the competition week at an athletes village in Reston.

Unlike Olympic athletes who have travel expenses paid for, athletes in these games must pay the cost of their own travel. At an information meeting for the games earlier this month, organizers asked area businesses to offer discounted items and special offers for athletes to entice more to come.

Country Inns and Suites off Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge will serve as the official transportation hub for athletes who stay in the county. Eight buses will take athletes to competition areas each morning and return them at night

Fairfax 2015 officials said they expected 55,000 hotel nights to be booked at area hotels. The Country Inn in Woodbridge is offering a special room rate for athletes, but no rooms have been booked yet.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot picking up yet, but it’s still a little early,” said Rebecca Anderson, who handles group sales for the hotel.

These latest games will take place following the most recent World Police and Fire Games that were held in Belfast, Ireland, and drew 7,000 athletes to the games.

For this year’s games, volunteers will also be needed to assist the athletes and spectators. “We need volunteers for parking, helping familes, we need ambassadors of Fairfax County and this whole region,” said Kim Palmese, director of workforce for Fairfax 2015.

After McDonalds robbery, young mom shown path to a degree

degree, credit, mcdonalds

Amercian National University (ANU) student Jazmin Lopez works toward her medical associates degree.

ANU provides young mother flexibility, path to medical assisting degree     

Jazmin Lopez, 20, of Manassas, knew that she needed to make a change in her life, and ANU offered her an opportunity to work toward her degree in a growing field.
Her neighbor was the first to recommend American National University, which has a campus in Manassas located on Liberia Avenue.

“They were promoting the school [at Gold’s Gym], when [my neighbor] met a recruiter from ANU,” Lopez said, continuing, “She was giving me information, but I wasn’t so sure about going to school.”

Lopez had made an appointment to meet with the recruiters on the campus, but still wasn’t sold about pursuing her degree.

Then, one night while working at a McDonalds, she was robbed.

“I wasn’t  speaking at the moment,” Lopez said of the experience, which traumatized her. “I thought it was time to change, and turn my life around,” Lopez said, prompting her motivation to get out of the fast food industry and earn her degree.

A few days after the incident, Lopez did meet with an ANU ad visor about the school’s opportunities for her. The robbery proved to be a turning point in her life that made her want to seek new opportunity and a higher education.

“The recruiter asked me why it took me so long to finally decide to go back to school. And I enrolled that same day…I thought it was really a great idea, because it’s only five minutes away from my house. And it caught my eye because they have really small classes, which means more attention for us as students,” said Lopez.

For her, the flexibility of the classes and assistance that the school has provided her, have allowed her to continue her education as a working young mother.

While still working at McDonalds, Lopez is currently obtaining her Medical Assistant degree, as a member of the class of 2016.

credit, mcdonalds, degree

This Manassas woman was robbed while working at a McDonalds. It was then she decided she need to change her life. She went to ANU in Manassas for a better opportunity.

Used tires are mysterious. New Cooper Starfire Tires cost about the same

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Cooper Starfire Tires offer superior life and performance for just a few dollars more than the cost of a used tire

Instead of buying a used tire that you might have to replace sooner than later, consider a new Cooper Starfire Tire.

It’s a great option for someone looking for an inexpensive tire that will help keep their vehicle on the road longer and their occupants of the car safe.

Cooper Starfire Tires are available for multiple makes and models of vehicles. They’re manufactured in Asia and designed in the U.S. to compete with premium brands without the higher price tag of comparable tires.

The tire offers high-performance ability, improved grip and road handling, with an improved overall tire life.

Cooper Starfire Tires are great for drivers who may have purchased a vehicle that is more costly to maintain than first thought, but are still looking for a quality tire that delivers great handling and a quiet performance on the road. With the Starfire option available, drivers should think before purchasing a used tire.

Typically, drivers have no idea what type of life the used tire had before they obtain it. Used tires could be six to eight years old, perhaps older, and have spent the majority of their life as a used tire strapped to a vehicle. While used tires may look good, the rubber can be worn down or degraded after years of sitting idle. Some used tires may also be missing tread and show signs of wear.

Purchasing a Starfire Tire costs about $30 more than what a used tire might cost, but a new tire, on average, will provide three times the life of a single used tire. The price of a Starfire Tire is up to 30% less than other newer tires.  There are many Starfire Tires produced for SUVs, trucks, and the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Camry models.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now an authorized Cooper Tire dealer and offers a full line of Starfire Tires.

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Picture your art here to win

Winning artwork to be featured on light poles in Manassas

Have you seen the banners that hang on the light poles in the Historic Downtown area of the City of Manassas and in other cities? If you are an artist or aspiring to be one, the art you create could be hanging on one of those light poles.

Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas have launched an art contest to fill the banners in Historic Downtown with original pieces of art. The contest will be juried so that one artist will be awarded a grand prize of $1,000 and there will also be “people’s choice award” of $500. The contest deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2015.

This contest is part of an effort to promote art and tourism in the City of Manassas. The winning 50 pieces will be featured on the light pole banners and in a walking tour brochure that includes information on the piece and the artist. Information about the contest can be found at visitmanassas.org/banner-art-project.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

City of Manassas Citizen Satisfaction Survey results are in

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Manassas ranks above average in 8 Citizen Satisfaction categories surveyed

In a survey conducted by one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms, results showed that citizen satisfaction in the City of Manassas is significantly above national and regional benchmarks in a number of service areas. Overall, three categories stood out: the overall quality of citizen services provided; the overall quality of water and sewer utilities; and the effectiveness of communication with the public.

Categories where the City of Manassas scored significantly higher than the national and regional benchmarks include:

  • Maintenance of streets
  • Sidewalks and infrastructure
  • How safe residents feel in their neighborhood at night, in commercial/business areas of the City and in City parks
  • Maintenance of neighborhood streets
  • Cleanliness of City streets
  • Access to information about City services
  • Opportunities to participate in local government 
  • Satisfaction with residential garbage collection and residential curbside recycling

The percentage of residents satisfied with customer service is 15 percent higher than the national average. Survey participants responded more than 20 percent above the national average when asked how satisfied they were with customer service in regards to response time and customer service experience.

“Having worked with City staff for the last year, I know how our dedicated staff goes above and beyond to provide services to the community,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. “I am extremely proud that resident opinions show that City of Manassas staff are significantly above the nation in customer service.”

City Council and staff are pleased with the results, not only because they highlight what the City is doing right, but because the survey shows what priorities the community has in coming years. Major services that were recommended as top priorities for investment over the next few years include: overall flow of traffic and ease of getting around; overall quality of public education; and overall quality of economic development.

ETC Institute used a random sample of households within the City of Manassas for this survey. They had a goal of 400 completed surveys being returned to provide this data and received 405 surveys from all areas of the City of Manassas. To read the survey results presented by ETC Institute, visit manassascity.org/CSS.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

News
Expect freezing rain today

Drivers and pedestrians should be on the look out for freezing rain today.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for our area. It will remain in effect until 6 p.m.

Here’s the details:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HASISSUED A FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY…WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PMEST THIS EVENING. 

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…FREEZING RAIN. PRECIPITATION MAY START OFF  AS SLEET AT THE ONSET. 

* ACCUMULATIONS…A TRACE OF ICE ACCUMULATION…ESPECIALLY ON  ELEVATED SURFACES. 

* TIMING…DEVELOPING BETWEEN 9 AM AND 11 AM THIS MORNING AND  CONTINUING THROUGH THE DAY. PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO RAIN BY  EARLY THIS EVENING. 

* TEMPERATURES…LOWER 30S THIS MORNING SLOWLY RISING INTO THE  MIDDLE 30S BY EARLY THIS EVENING. 

* WINDS…NORTHEAST 5 TO 10 MPH. 

* IMPACTS…ELEVATED SURFACES MAY BECOME SLIPPERY…WHICH WILL  RESULT IN HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS. 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF FREEZING RAIN ORFREEZING DRIZZLE WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FORSLIPPERY ROADS. SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

It’s important to note freezing rain is rain that freezes on contact with a cold surface. Sleet is icy pellets that fall from the sky, and sleet is not in today’s forecast.

Traffic
John Jenkins will have a locomotive named after him

All aboard the John Jenkins Express.

Jenkins, the longest currently serving Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is recognized for his participation on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. He and eight other VRE Board members who played key roles in the development of the commuter railroad since its founding in 1992 will have their names affixed to the front of VRE locomotives.

Here’s a full list of names that will soon appear on commuter trains:

  • Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
  • James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
  • Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
  • Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
  • Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
  • Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
  • John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member – previously recognized)

The operations board approved adding the names to the locomotives at their monthly meeting this morning.

“Naming locomotives to honor those who helped establish or ensure the success of VRE is a small token of the appreciation we have for the foresight and public service these Board Members have provided in creating VRE,” said  VRE Operations Board Chairman Paul Milde in a press release.

The names that will be affixed to the locomotives belong to those who “played a key role in establishing VRE service, were early or long-tenured members, or whose extraordinary efforts contributed to its success, will be honored by having their names placed on the front of VRE locomotives.”

Virginia Railway Express trains carried more than 320,000 riders in November. Over the past year, the commuter railroad carried 2 million riders.

Traffic
I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes open Monday

I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes tolling begins in 2 weeks

Update

Drivers will not need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 when they open Monday. The lanes will operate under old HOV lanes rules that require vehicle to have three or more occupants between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The lanes will be open to traffic at all other times.

Staring Dec. 29, all drives will need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the lanes, and the lanes will be tolled at all times. Virginia State Police are required to enforce the new rules.

Original post

The new reversible EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 will open to traffic Monday.

The opening marks the culmination of a 2-year, $990 million effort to convert the existing HOV facility on I-95 from Dumfries to Edsall Road to new lanes that will all be electronically tolled. New tolled lanes were also built from Dumfries south to Garrisonville Road in North Stafford.

All drivers will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes as there are no toll booths on the lanes. Drivers who carpool will need an EZ-Pass Flex that will allow them to flip a switch on the device that tells the all-electronic toll booths not to charge if there are three or more people in the vehicle.

The lanes will continue to carry motorists north in the mornings and south in the evenings.

Click here to get a map of the new lanes and see how to use them

 

Tolling on the lanes will begin Dec. 29. That will give drivers time to learn the layout of the new lanes, and construction crews and additional two weeks to continue working on the finishing touches to the lanes.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement:

“The 95 Express Lanes are an investment in Virginia’s economy,” Governor McAuliffe said.  “Not only did the project create thousands of jobs during construction and put more than 500 businesses to work, the new infrastructure will also support future economic development and job growth in the region.  The improved mobility and new access that will be provided by the project will help ensure that Virginia remains a great place to live and do business. My team and I are working every day to build a new Virginia economy, and this important project will help us advance that important goal.”

Those words came after state and local officials gathered Wednesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony to herald the opening.

Drivers using the lanes will notice variable tolling, and will be charged one price per mile of distance they travel on the lanes. While a driver’s EZ-Pass locks in the toll rate when the vehicle enters the lanes, prices to use the lanes will rise as more cars enter the lanes, and will fall as fewer cars on the lanes.

The lanes were built and will be maintained through a public-private partnership with Virginia and Transurban, an Australia-based company that will operate and profit from the lanes for nearly 100 years. Transurban also constructed and maintains EZ-Pass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road, where four new lanes, and 14 new bridges were added to that portion of the Beltway to accommodate an increase in traffic.

  • The governor also distributed key points about the project identified as benefits for commuters:

  • An expanded system from two to three lanes for 14 miles between Prince William Parkway to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395

  • Improvement of the existing HOV system for six miles from Route 234 to the Prince William Parkway

  • A nine-mile extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to alleviate the bottleneck where the HOV lanes end today

  • Improved system performance through enhanced enforcement and incident response

  • New access points offering more direct connections

The new EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, tolling will be in effect at all times.

Under the rules of the old HOV lanes, drivers were required to have three or more occupants inside their car 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drivers were then able to use the lanes freely at all other times.

 

 

 

Traffic
Should Prince William raise taxes to fill $17.7 million bus budget gap?

Average tax bills could rise by $80 to offset budget shortfall

Commuter bus service in Prince William County is heading toward a fiscal cliff.

A budget deficit of $17.7 million is looming for OmniRide commuter buses and OmniLink local buses. The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission or PRTC — the agency that operates the buses — asked Prince William leaders to help make up a budget shortfall that could lead to 1/3 of all PRTC to be slashed, starting in 2018.

PRTC expects the state to provide 10% fewer dollars than it last year. Additionally, a surplus of monies collected in the 2.3% motor fuels tax — a tax on every gallon of fuel purchased in the county — is expected to run out by 2018.

With the drop in fuel prices, and newer cars getting more miles per gallon, gas tax revenues are expected to be flat over the next several years despite Prince William’s growing population, said PRTC Executive Director Al Harf.

Prince William County is the largest funder of PRTC, as 86% of riders live in the county. The county gave $15.2 million to both PRTC and Virginia Railway Express this year, while Virginia provided $16.2 million, and the Federal Government $2.7 million.

The bus system now wrangles with the costs of maintenance, purchasing new buses to replace old ones, and has seen fewer dollars than expected from last year’s landmark transportation bill that increased sales taxes to generate an estimated $880 million in new revenue for transportation and transit. Harf says the linger affects of the recession, the impact of sequestration, and lower fuel costs are all to blame for the lower funds.

Prince William leaders have the option of footing the entire $17.7 million bill, placing the tax burden on the backs of county taxpayers.

“We would need a significant amount of funding from the general fund to accomplish this,” Prince William County Budget Director Michelle Casciato told officials in September.

Total funding would lead to an $80 increase to the average property tax bill paid by county residents. Because of a revenue sharing agreement between the county government and its public school system, education funding would automatically be increased by the move.

County leaders also have the option of diverting monies already allocated toward traffic improvement projects, such as widening Minnieville, Balls Ford, Neabsco Mills, and Vint Hill roads, and using the dollars to fund the transit service. That option would push back construction completion dates on the road projects by up to 10 years and, due to inflation, would mean the projects could cost more in the long run.

If the county picks up only some of the cost, about $13 million, then PRTC warns local buses and buses that service Metro stations in Springfield and Vienna would run less frequently. Riders could also expect large annual fare increases, rising as much as 42%, beginning in 2016.

“Once you lose a rider, you’ve lost them,” said Harf. “More people would rely on family and friends, and they would be carpooling where they are not carpooling now.” 

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will begin working on the fiscal year 2016 budget in earnest after the 1st of the year.

Manassas and Manassas Park residents also use the bus service, but those independent cities do not contribute funding to PRTC. If the cities did, it would help to close the budget gap by $2 million, said Harf.

Winning Virginia Lottery Ticket Bought in Lorton

Check your tickets! Someone bought a Powerball ticket for Saturday’s drawing that ended up winning $1 million. The winning ticket was bought at Gunston Shell Service, 9801 Richmond Highway in Lorton.

The winning numbers for the November 29 Powerball drawing were 13-24-30-42-48, and the Powerball number was 27. This ticket matched the first five numbers and missed only the Powerball number.

Whoever has the ticket has 180 days from the drawing date to claim the prize. The Virginia Lottery advises that before doing anything else, the winner should immediately sign the back of the ticket to establish ownership. When the person is ready to claim the million-dollar prize, he or she should contact the Virginia Lottery.

Meanwhile, Lottery officials are still waiting for whoever has a $1 million winning Powerball ticket from the June 21 drawing to come forward before it’s too late. The ticket was bought at Getty Mart, 209 East Holly Avenue in Sterling.  If the winner doesn’t redeem the ticket before close of business (5:00 p.m.) on December 18, the ticket will expire and become worthless.

Workhouse Plans Black Friday Celebration

The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia will open its galleries and studios for extended hours on Black Friday, Nov. 28, from 10am-7pm, offering a free, fun and festive alternative to a day at the mall. Instead of standing in lines, come and explore the art work of nearly 100 of the area’s most prominent  artists; participate in interactive demonstrations; and find unique artisan gifts—all while supporting local artists in your community.

This annual event is full of free activities, events, and experiences for you to enjoy with your friends and family, such as:

  • Holiday Sing-A-Long & Tree Lighting
    Gather around our tree and spread holiday cheer with music and song! Ceremony begins at 5:45pm after the sun sets in the Rizer Pavilion.
  • Fire Pits with S’mores & Free Hot Cider
    Warm-up next to our outdoor fire pits, while you make s‘mores and enjoy hot cider!
  • Doughnuts with Santa
    Presented by Mestey Films Productions, join Santa and his helpers for a special holiday experience. Participants will enjoy two doughnuts and a choice of juice or coffee while Santa and his elves read a classic Christmas story and lead a fun-filled family sing-a-long. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras for those special photos! $20 for children & adults.
  • Kid’s Activities: “Stay, Create!”
    Young artists can get creative with fun make-and-take art projects while parents browse the diverse art galleries of the Workhouse. Suggested donation of $5 per child for this activity, which supports Workhouse arts, education, and history programs.
  • Holiday Ballroom Dance
    Bring your dancing shoes and a partner to this free holiday ballroom dance from 4-5pm! No experience is necessary and all ages are welcome to twirl around the dance floor. A short lesson/demonstration will be provided by our resident Ballroom instructor Cookie Bell! 
  • “This Side’s For You” Cooking Demonstrations
    Join Chef Kathleen Linton in our Culinary Classroom for lessons in how to create tasty holiday-themed side dishes.
  • Art of Movement Demonstrations and Workshops
    Get on the move in Building W-11 with free classes and demos in Hula, Lei-Making, Surfset (Indoor Surfing Fitness), Bodyblade, Pilates, Yoga and more! All ages and abilities are welcome.

News
Youth Scouting Membership Declines

The number of Girl Scouts is on the decline nationally, but that isn’t the case in Prince William County.

The number of Girl Scouts “remained steady” in Prince William, while the numbers of girls joining the ranks of the scouts has declined 6% in the last year, down from 2.9 to 2.8 million Girl Scouts nationwide. Overall, the membership numbers have fallen 27% from its peak of 3.8 million in 2003.

There were 3,192 Girl Scouts in Prince William County last year supported by 1,000 adult volunteers. The 102-year-old organization prides itself on maintaining its core values while educating girls in the changing fields of science, technology, and math, commonly known as STEM.

“We remain committed to our mission: building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Girls continue to learn new skills and earn badges, participate in the outdoors and provide service to their community,” Girl Scouts spokeswoman Nancy Wood told Potomac Local.

It’s not quite the same story for the Boy Scouts in Prince William. Their membership numbers fell nearly 2% last year, a bit lower number when compared to the 2.5% decline in membership seen in Boy Scout troops across the U.S.

The Boy Scouts have also embraced STEM education as part of their curriculum, but the Boy Scouts also knows activities for participants must also be fun.

“We have been working on a number of projects to bolster the numbers of young men and women in our program,” said Ben Hazekamp, a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Region. “We are working on new units at schools that currently do not offer a scouting program, so that we can offer the scouting experience to every youth. We are also working on several strategic partnerships through our Explorer’s program, which offers young men and women the opportunity to explore potential careers from the ages of 14 to 21.”

Another program open to Boy Scouts came about from a partnership with Prince William police, where boys get to explore the field of community policing.

There are 4,774 active youth members in the Boy Scouts organization in Prince William. It’s an average of 2.5 children to every one adult, according to Hazekamp.

The Boys Scouts recently held a fundraiser dinner honoring two women in our community, Ernestine Jenkins and Melissa Robson, awarding them the “Good Scout” award. The dinner served to raise awareness of scouting and also raised $10,000 for the local organization.

Traffic
Rules Changing for Drivers on I-95 HOV Lanes

The rules of the road are changing for those who use HOV lanes on Intestate 95.

When the newly built 95 Express toll lanes open in December, a 29-mile stretch of the road from Route 610 in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexnadria, to include a large portion of the existing HOV lanes, will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nearly everyone will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes — even drivers of hybrid cars. Under the old rules, vehicles with three or more occupants, hybrid cars with a clean fuel designation printed on them, and motorcycles could use the lanes at all times. Under the new rules, motorcyclists can ride free but all other vehicles need an EZ Pass or EZ-Pass Flex.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Carpoolers: 

  • Carpools need an E-ZPass Flex
  • Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.   
  • E-ZPass Flex works like a standard E-ZPass but allows carpoolers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. The switchable E-ZPass Flex lets the Express Lanes operator know which vehicles are HOV-3+ so that they aren’t charged a toll.  

Drivers of Hybrid Vehicles with Clean Fuel Plates: 

 

When the 95 Express Lanes open, hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 must pay a toll or have three people in the car to use the Lanes.  The rules affecting hybrids are as follows:

  • Hybrid drivers can ride toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode; or,
  • They can pay the toll with an E-ZPass if traveling with fewer than three people in the vehicle.
  • The 95 Express Lanes will end just north of Edsall Road. From Edsall Road to Washington, D.C., the HOV lanes will exist with the same rules that are in effect today. Hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 will continue to be allowed to use the HOV lanes without three people in the vehicle on the I-395 HOV lanes. For more information about the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395, please visit: 95ExpressLanes.com/transition

Drivers of Trucks, Commercial/18-Wheel Vehicles:  

  • Vehicles with more than two axles – including 18-wheel trucks – will not be permitted to access the 95 Express Lanes.
  • Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they have an E-ZPass Flexset to HOV mode and three or more people in the vehicle.

Law Enforcement Officials: 

  • Local, state or federal law enforcement officials will not be exempt from toll and HOV requirements on the 95 Express Lanes unless in the direct pursuit of their duties, which does not include commuting to and from the workplace.
  • Law enforcement officials can contact the Express Lanes pre or post travel for trips they believe qualify as exempt.  Please contact customercare@expresslanes.com for more information.

Motorcycles: 

  • Motorcycles do not need an E-ZPass.

Unlike the existing HOV lanes, the rules of the road for the new 95 Express Lanes will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends.  Vehicles may not tow trailers on the 95 Express Lanes. HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access to the Express Lanes at all times; drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time.

Get an E-ZPass:

Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex at more than 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Giant Food Stores, or at one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824.  Visit www.ezpassva.com or call the Customer Service Center for more information – (877) 762-7824.

The 95 Express Lanes are being delivered through a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC constructing the Express Lanes.  For more information on how I-95 drivers can use the 95 Express Lanes please visit  www.95ExpressLanes.com.  For up-to-date construction information please visit  www.vamegaprojects.com.

 

George Mason Green Job Networking Fair

The public, alumni and students are welcome to attend George Mason University’s second annual Green Job Networking Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Nov. 10 in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall on George Mason’s Fairfax campus.

Mason’s Office of Sustainability and University Career Services are teaming up to host major employers including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and environmentally friendly businesses and nonprofits.

Organizers recommend registering, dressing for success and bringing a resume — not only to possibly find a career, but to find a purpose.

“Creating solutions for a more sustainable world and Earth contributes to the greater good and enables our students to make a meaningful difference in the world,” says Margaret Lo, Office of Sustainability director.

Christine Cruzvergara, director of University Career Services in the Division of University Life, says attendees should research green industry trends even before they arrive. “Be prepared with thoughtful questions about how these employers are playing a critical role in their contributions toward conserving energy, developing alternative energy, reducing pollution or recycling,” she says. 

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MOM’s Organic Market, Above Green, Walnut Hill Farm, Traderoots LLC, Fairfax County Farmers’ Markets, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, Clean Fairfax and Earth Sangha also will be speaking on panels and answering questions.

 

News
Don’t Miss ‘Missiles In Your Backyard!’ at Workhouse

Here are a list of upcoming events in November at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton: 

Dada Re-Discovered
October 25 – January 19

Building W-16 Vulcan Gallery

Dada Re-Discovered explores how contemporary media and ideas can filter past Dada concepts and artwork.  The exhibit will feature sound, video, performance and other visual mixed media. Dada, an art movement birthed out of World War I Europe, was a rejection of prevailing standards in art. As it came to America, it became associated with the absurd, yet stayed grounded in anti-culture and avant-garde artistic ideas.

FCPS Art Teachers Exhibition
November 1 – December 15

Building W-16 McGuireWoods Gallery

The best art teachers teach in Fairfax County and exhibit at the Workhouse! For many years a primary goal of the Fairfax County Public Schools Fine Arts Office has been to seek out and hire candidates who are not only great teachers, but also great artists. Today, there are more than 350 visual art teachers in FCPS, many of whom continue to practice art-making while sharing their expertise with students. The FCPS Fine Arts Office is proud to partner with the Workhouse Arts Center to organize an exhibition showcasing the talents and artistic achievements of these artist-teachers.

Cabaret Series: Heroes Cabaret!
Saturday, November 1 at 8pm & Sunday, November 2 at 1pm
Tickets: $25, includes planche campagnarde

Featuring the music of heroes and anti-heroes alike we celebrate the valiant, the flawed, the strong, and the vulnerable characters that audiences have admired, adored and applauded over the last century! Whether he’s a stately gentleman or the boy-next-door, the music composed for these memorable characters is some of the best ever composed.

The Cold War in Lorton: Missiles In Your Backyard!
Sunday, November 9 at 2pm
Tickets: Free – $10 suggested donation

W-3 Theatre

Marvin ‘Shep’ Crow, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), will discuss the Nation’s perceived need for air defense weapons during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the development of the U.S. air defense system, focusing on the Lorton site. Presented by the Workhouse Prison and Museum Committee, Workhouse Arts Foundation, Inc.

 

2nd Saturday Art Walk

November 8, 6-9pm

Campus Wide, Free!

The 2nd Saturday Art Walk at the Workhouse showcases the diverse work of more than 100 visual artists in a unique historic venue, creating an atmosphere that encourages visitors to immerse themselves in the richness of this creative community.

Guests can tour seven unique studio buildings, mix and mingle with artists, buy original works of art, experience ever-changing exhibitions and meet featured artists, all while enjoying light refreshments and music. The social atmosphere of the monthly art walk makes it the perfect destination for a date night or girls’ night out, as well as for art collectors and art appreciation groups alike. These monthly events are also perfect for family art outings.

Date Night: Chef’s Table

Saturday, November 15, 7-9pm

Building W-3, Classroom 302

$85 per person (covers all food and a glass of wine)

Anyone can go out for dinner and a movie so why not make your night something special to be remembered? Date Night cooking classes are designed to be fun, relaxing and an escape from the daily grind. They are great way to learn some basic cooking techniques while enjoying your company and making new friends. The menu items will be prepared by participants working together at each of the cooking islands. Participants will be served a tasting portion of all the entrees and a pre-chef-selected drink of choice. No one will leave hungry! Every month you will prepare a new dish ranging from ethnic cuisines like Japanese, Thai and Spanish High Cuisine to Vegetarian and much more!

Ballroom Social Dance

Saturday, November 15, 7:30-10:30pm

W-16 McGuire Woods Gallery

$10-15

Start your evening by learning some new moves with a ballroom mini-lesson! Each month will feature a new style of dance ranging from the ChaCha to the Tango. Mini-lesson begins at 7:30pm and is $5 per person. Then take your new moves to the dance floor when open dancing begins at 8pm. Open dance is $10 per person. Complimentary refreshments and a cash bar will be available in the gallery. There is no need to get fancy unless you feel like it—the dress code is casual. All skill levels are welcome–even if you have two left feet!

Mini-lesson 7:30-8pm. 
Open dance 8-10:30pm
Complimentary refreshments and cash bar available.

Stranger than Fiction: Great Art Heists in History

Friday, November 20, 7:30pm

W-3 Theatre

$10 per person, $5 for Artists at the Workhouse, Friends of the Workhouse, Workhouse Volunteers and Military

Anne Kenny-Urban: Budget Services Manager at VMFA
Discover what Japanese gangsters, bear spray and daring boat getaways have in common with noteworthy art thefts. In this lecture, you will travel the globe learning why museums from Amsterdam to Zimbabwe have been targets for thieves and what tools they used to elude detection. Find out who got caught…and who did not.

Black Friday Holiday Celebration at the Workhouse

Friday, November 28, 10am-7pm
Campus-wide, Free!

Begin your holiday season with family and friends at the Workhouse’s Holiday Celebration! Explore the artwork of nearly 100 artists, join in interactive demonstrations and find that perfect gift for everyone on your list–while supporting local artists in your community. Festivities will also include Doughnuts with Santa, fine-art projects for children, and holiday music and theatrical performances throughout the day. Don’t miss the culminating sing-a-long and tree lighting! Parking and admission is free. Get into the holiday spirit at the Workhouse! 

Traffic
Updated: Woodbridge Man Dies in Bus Crash; Passengers Were Returning to Prince William

Update

A bus carrying 17 people including its driver was returning to Prince William County after a birthday party in Washington, D.C. early this morning when it was involved in a crash where nine occupants were ejected.

The crash occurred while the van was traveling south on Interstate 95 at Lorton was cut off by a 2-door Acura traveling at a high rate of speed, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. The car and bus collided causing the bus driver to lose control of the vehicle, run off the side of the highway, strike a guardrail, and then overturn.

The driver was not wearing a seatbelt and is being treated for non life-threatening injuries. Another passenger is also being treated for serious but non life-threatening injuries.

One passenger – Alberto Sanchez, 24, of Woodbridge, was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Thirteen others that were on board the bus suffered minor injuries.

The driver of the Acura, identified as Manuel Barrientos, 31, was arrested at his home this morning and faces charges in connection to the crash.

Update

A man who lives in a home behind a Walmart near Dumfries has been arrested in connection to a bus crash this morning on Interstate 95.

Of the 17 people who were taken to a local hospital, Alberto Sanchez, 24, of Woodbridge, has died. A second person is still being treated for life-threatening injuries.

Here’s the latest from Virginia State Police:

Thanks to witness information, state police were able to track down the white car to a residence in Dumfries, Va. A white Acura was located at the residence in the 16,000 block of Gentle Wood Lane and its driver, Raphael Manuel Barrientos, 31, of Dumfries, Va., was taken into custody without incident. Barrientos has been charged with one felony count of hit-and-run. He is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. Additional charges are pending consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

A total of 17 individuals – 16 passengers and driver – were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. All passengers are in their early 20s and from Prince William County.

• Two were flown from the scene to Inova Fairfax Hospital – one these two, David Alberto Sanchez, 24, of Woodbridge, Va., succumbed to his injuries later Sunday morning at the hospital; the second one is still being treated for life-threatening injuries.

• The driver and one other passenger are being treated for serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

• The remaining 13 passengers suffered minor injuries.

All southbound lanes of I-95 were open as of 8 a.m.

9:30 a.m. 

LORTON, Va. — One person is dead after a bus crash this morning on Interstate 95 in Lorton.

Here’s the latest from Virginia State Police:

At 3:28 a.m. Sunday, Virginia State Police were called to the scene of a crash involving a small, 16-passenger shuttle bus in the southbound lanes of I-95, just south of Exit 163 for Lorton.

The shuttle bus was traveling south on I-95 when, according to witnesses, a white, four-door passenger vehicle traveling at an extreme high rate of speed swerved into the bus’s travel lane. In order to avoid the car, the driver of the shuttle bus swerved to the right. The shuttle bus then ran off the right side of the road, struck the guardrail, and overturned.

The 16 passengers and driver on board the shuttle bus have been transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. State police was just notified that one of the two individuals flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of serious injuries has succumbed to his injuries.

State police are asking if anyone saw the white sedan prior to or following the crash, to please call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026. State police are currently looking for the vehicle at this time…all we have right now for a description is a white, four-door sedan.

All southbound lanes of I-95 were open as of 8 a.m.

The crash remains under investigation.

News
Sculptures Give Glimpse into PTSD-Ridden Minds

Army Corpsman Sgt. Linsey Siu, talks about her art labeled "Just put on a happy face." [Mary Davidson/ Potomac Local News]

LORTON, Va. — The effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on this nation’s veterans can be devastating.

More than just loss of sleep, PTSD can cause once emboldened military warriors that served in combat overseas to lose their sense of self worth, to feel helpless and regretful — an illness debilitating enough to place them into hospitals to help treat the condition.

Talking about the effects of PTSD is tough, soldiers said, so many have turned to art to express their feelings, and to help share what’s going on inside their heads.

“I wanted to show that PTSD was taking over my life, but I wanted to make it pretty,” said Linsey Liu, an Army Corpsman who served two tours in Iraq.

Liu crafted a sculpture of her head, with the front of it showing regular features like a nose, eyes, and long stringy hair. But take the detachable faceplate off and the inside of the head — a red, tormented brain is revealed.

“With art, you get the freedom to say what you want to say without having to talk about it because, let’s face it, talking about it sucks,” said Liu.

She was one of several artists who are patients at Fort Belvoir’s Art Therapy program, an outpatient center that treats servicemen and women suffering from PTSD.

A growing form of treatment that has also expanded to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the patients on Saturday put their work on display at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. It’s part of a new exhibit entitled “360 Degrees of Post Traumatic Stress” that features sculptures by local artists, all depicting how PTSD makes them feel.

The effort is part of the Combat Paper Project, which allows soldiers the ability to cut up their old uniforms worn in battle, beat them into a pulp forming a sheet of paper, and then use that paper to create art.

“When someone has trauma, it’s an experience that gets stuck in their heads as an image, not words, so this art is a way for them to get that image out,” said Eileen McKee, an Art Therapist at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Other sculptures included heads with pieces of the Army’s battle dress uniform, tiny guns, and words like “hero” written on the outside.

“Here is what everybody is supposed to see when they look at me. This sculpture shows how I really feel,” said Liu.

The exhibit will be on display through August 16 at the Workhouse Arts Center’s W-16 Gallery.

062713-ptsd-05
Picture 1 of 5

"Mask of Combat" by Patrick Smyth[Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

News
Sentara Expands to Lorton, Opens Emergency Center

LORTON, Va. — Sentara Healthcare’s footprint in Northern Virginia is expanding.

This week, the massive healthcare provider that is deeply rooted in Hampton Roads, and then later expanded to Woodbridge, has opened a new center in Lorton.

Sentara Lorton Marketplace Emergency Care Center opened its doors. The concept for the new facility is based off one used at a Sentara outpatient center that opened in Lake Ridge in March 2012.

“The new Emergency Care Center will provide 24-hour emergency care, board certified physician specialists, and advanced imaging services, including low-dose CT, x-ray, and ultrasound. The 10-bed facility is powered by eCare, Sentara’s fully integrated electronic medical record,” a press release stated.

This new facility is Sentara’s first in Fairfax County and third in the region. The healthcare provider continues to expand in an ever crowding market of healthcare providers like Innova, and Novant Health, a North Carolina-based health care agency that recently purchased its first hospital in Virginia — Prince William Hospital, now known as Novant Prince William Medical Center in Manassas.

Sentara’s new Lorton Center is located in Lorton Marketplace, just seven miles north of Sentara’s regional hub, Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, formerly Potomac Hospital.

News
Investigators Believe Lorton Restaurant Fire Set Intentionally

LORTON, Va. — An explosion at a Lorton restaurant yesterday with one injured person has led investigators to believe a fire was intentionally set there.

More in a press release from Fairfax County fire and rescue:

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department units responded to a commercial fire, Wednesday, February 6, 2013, at approximately 10:25 a.m., in the Lorton area of Fairfax County. The restaurant, Sub Shop, is located on 9504 Richmond Highway in a shopping center.

Firefighters encountered heavy black smoke coming from the front and rear of the one-story structure upon arrival. Firefighters conducted an aggressive fire attack from the front and rear of the structure and quickly brought the fire under control. Fire damage was contained to the restaurant; however, adjacent structures received minor smoke damage. One adult was transported by ambulance to the Washington Hospital Burn Center with non-life threatening injuries. There were no other injuries.

Damage is estimated at $100,000.

According to fire investigators, the fire was intentionally set. Fire investigators and the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating and seeking the person or persons responsible. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mailwww.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637, or contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-691-2131, and ask for the duty investigator.

 

News
Performance Dance Troupe Coming to Workhouse Also Offers Class for Youth

LORTON, Va. — The en Route! dance group touring Richmond, Va. and Baltimore, Md. will perform at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Their performance will come with a special dance lesson for youth dancers at any experience level.

More in a press release from the Workhouse:

Artists from Fairfax and Richmond, VA are included as part of the first en Route! performance presented at the Workhouse Arts Center.

At least five artists have worked together to bring the dance group to the stage. One of them will offer a youth dance class, according to the press release:

Furia Flamenca’s Artistic Director, Estela Velez will teach a free flamenco master class from 11:30-12:15 p.m., on January 26th at the Workhouse Arts Center as part of en Route! This workshop is open to youth dance students at any experience level. Contact Workhouse Arts Center for registration.

Want to go?

Saturday, January 26th 2013 at 7:30pm

Workhouse Arts Center

Building W-3, Theatre, 9601 Ox Road

Lorton, Va.

Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 senior/military, $10 youth/student.

Purchase tickets online or call 703-584-2900

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