Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Lorton

News
Around Town

Fire and rescue crews in North Stafford battle a house fire Wednesday that took the lives of several pets, a fire official said. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

County’s first dog park approved
Woodbridge residents may soon see Prince William County’s first dog park after the park authority last night approved an agreement to lease land in Lake Ridge for the proposed park, Insidenova.com reports.

Geico will add more jobs
One of Stafford County’s largest employers, Geico, will add 180 new jobs to its office on Warrenton Road (U.S. 17) by the end of the year, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Northern Virginia connection
Following the death of famed movie star Elizabeth Taylor, Patch.com takes a look at her connection to Northern Virginia, her former husband Sen. John Warner.

News
Thunder Could Roll Tonight

The National Weather Service has placed the Potomac Communities under a severe thunderstorm watch for this evening.

Forecasters say we could see some strong storms with dangerous lightening and some hail, mainly before 8 p.m.

Tomorrow, temperatures will struggle to make it out of the 40 degree temperature range, with mostly sunny skies.

Friday will also be sunny, with a high near 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

News
Around Town

Chef Denise Baxter, instructor of Stafford County’s Mountain View High School’s Culinary Arts Program. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Suicide prompts Fairfax schools to review disciplinary process
Fairfax County public school officials are taking a second look at how the discipline students after a 15-year-old freshman committed suicide after being transferred to another school following a disciplinary action, The Washington Post reports.

Superintendent candidate drops out
A democrat once vying to unseat Prince William County Superintendent Corey A. Stewart has taken his name out of the hat, citing redistricting concerns as a more “solid” candidate from Woodbridge, Insidenova.com reports.

Jewelry store expands
A popular jewelry store in Woodbridge held a ribbon cutting on Tuesday to celebrate the expansion of their store on Prince William Parkway, Patch.com reports.

News
VRE Riders Will Pay Less to Ride Amtrak

A Virginia Railway Express train pulls into the Woodbridge station. (File Photo: Mary Davidson)

Virginia Railway Express riders will soon be able to take Amtrak for less.

Beginning May 2, riders will be able to purchase an Amtrak Step-up ticket for $5, which is half of the current ticket cost. The reduced fares should alleviate crowding on the transit system that last month experienced record ridership, said VRE CEO Dale Zehner.

“This past Friday, the [VRE] Operations Board approved my recommendation to buy down the Step-Up fare. While VRE will still need to pay $10 to Amtrak for every VRE rider on one of its trains…the VRE rider will only pay $5. VRE will pay the rest,” said Zehner.

Covering the cost of the step-up fares is expected to cost VRE $300,000 annually, and is expected to increase Amtrak’s annual ridership by 250 trips per day, up to 60,000 passenger trips per year.

All of the riders are would-be VRE passengers.

In some cases, says Zehner, buying an Amtrak Step-up ticket will actually decrease commute times for some riders.

On March 15, VRE saw record-breaking ridership numbers with 20,573 passenger trips.

News
Chain Reaction Crash Leaves 1 Dead

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– A 48-year-old Ft. Belvoir man in dead after a crash Monday, and charges are anticipated for one of the drivers involved.

Fairfax County police this morning said a 32-year-old man was driving a Fastran shuttle bus on northbound U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir about 4 p.m. Monday when four cars in front of him slowed for a traffic light at Fairfax County Parkway.

The driver told police he did not see the light or the slowing cars and hit a 1995 Toyota Celica, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Shelly Broderick.

Inside of the Celica was the fatal victim in the crash, William S. Pitts, of Fort Belvoir Road, who was pronounced dead on the scene.

After shuttle bus collided with Pitts’ car, the impact caused a chain reaction forcing the Celica into the back of a 2004 Dodge pickup. That truck then hit a 2001 Dodge Caravan, which then hit a 2004 Chrysler sedan.

In all, eight people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later released.

Police have not filed charges or identified the driver of the Fastran bus, but said charges are anticipated.

This is the second fatal crash at the same spot on U.S. 1 in a week.

On March 14, 54-year-old Paul Krause was died when his sedan was struck by a Honda Civic, forcing it into oncoming traffic.

The driver of that Civic, 33-year-old Carlos Lagos Ramos, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and has been identified as an illegal immigrant here in the U.S.

Krause leaves behind a wife and three daughters.

News
Around Town

Train operators apologize for late night whistles
Railroad crews are apologizing for sounding train whistles that for the past few weeks have kept neighbors up at night, Fredericksburg.com reports.

The next NOVA Idol
It’s that time of year again when students at Northern Virginia Community College take to the stage in the hopes to be crowed the next NOVA Idol. NOVA Fortnightly asks who this year’s idol will be.

East Coast Rapists suspect due in court today
The East Coast Rapist suspect is due in a Connecticut court room today, the Washington Post reports. Police in Prince William County charge 39-year-old Aaron Thomas with raped two girls in Dale City on Halloween night 2009.

Traffic
Fatal Crash Snarls U.S. 1 Traffic

Update 7 p.m.

Update 5:40 p.m.
Police say one person has died and eight people transported to the hospital after a crash at U.S. 1 and Fairfax County Parkway that happened about 4 p.m.

Police have not released the identified any of the victims in the crash, nor have they released details on how it happened.

Crash investigators on the scene say at least five vehicles are believed to be involved.

The southbound lanes of U.S. 1 have been reopened to traffic at Fairfax County Parkway.

The northbound lanes of U.S. 1 are closed at Pohick Road.

Original Post 4:50 p.m.
Lorton, Va. ––
One person has been killed in a cash on U.S. 1 at Fairfax County Parkway near Ft. Belvoir.

County police are on the scene of the cash that reportedly involves seven patients.

The four-lane highway has been closed in both directions and officials advise motorists to find an alternate route to get home.

Fairfax County Connector Buses are reporting major delays at this hour.

The crash comes exactly one week after a Fairfax Station man was killed in a crash at the same intersection.

An illegal immigrant has been charged in that crash.

News
Around Town

Denise Harman was one of the brave who auditioned to sing the National Anthem at Pfitzner Stadium on Saturday in Woodbridge for upcoming Potomac National’s baseball games. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford BOCS: Build in Brooke
Stafford County’s Board of Supervisors wants a urban-like, high density development for the Brooke area of the county despite the wishes of the county’s planning commission, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Mason madness is over
Try as they might, George Mason couldn’t scale Mount Buckeye in Ohio, losing to Ohio State with a jaw-dropping score of 99-66, The Washington Post reports.

Lorton space rock nets 10 grand for charity
Remember that tiny little meteorite that crashed through a doctor’s office in Lorton last year, narrowly missing those inside the office? The doctor has sold the space rock to the Smithsonian Institute for $10,000, NBCWashington.com reports.

News
Around Town

Construction on Courthouse Road in Stafford County. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Kaine could run for senate
Virginia’s former governor, Timothy Kaine, may make a run for the U.S. Senate. If it happens, the senate contest could be a duel between political heavyweights as George Allen is also running for the seat, Staffordcountysun.com reports.

Parking desk could be built at Rippon VRE station
Virginia Railway Express commuters who use the Rippon station could soon see a parking garage built there. The parking deck would be part of a larger project to bring more residential and commercial property to that section of Woodbridge, Insidenova.com reports.

Legislative recap dinner planned
Area business leaders have been invited by the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce to get a recap of the latest Virginia General Assembly session at a dinner next Thursday night. The event will feature Senators Toddy Puller and George Barker, as well as State Delegates Dave Albo, David Englin, Mark Sickles, and Scott Surovell. The chamber will charge $35 per person to attend the event.

News
Family Mourns as Police Return to Crash Scene

Paul Krause was killed Monday following a car crash on U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir.

Lorton, Va. –– Paul Krause’s family is trying to come to grips with his sudden death.

He died Monday after a drunken driver struck his sedan forcing it into oncoming traffic on Richmond Highway (U.S. 1) in the Ft. Belvoir area, police say.

It doesn’t make things easier to know the man charged in the fatal crash that took Paul’s life is an illegal immigrant.

“I live in San Diego and we deal with the illegal immigration thing all the time, but for me, for my family, I don’t care if you’re from Mars –– driving after you’ve been drinking, no one should do that,” said Tom Krause, his younger brother.

Police closed the same portion of U.S. 1 Thursday morning where the crash occurred.

They used laser measurement devices, measured the friction of the roadway and collected more details to help them to understand the crash, said Fairfax County police spokesman Eddie Azcarate.

Carlos Sanchez Ramos faces multiple charges in a crash that left one man dead. (Submitted)

On Wednesday, A U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said the man charged in the fatal crash, 33-year-old Carlos Lagos Ramos, was deported from the U.S. as an illegal alien in 2003. Authorities say he reentered the county illegally without ICE knowing.

Ramos has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Police say following the crash Ramos grabbed a 3-year-old who was passenger inside his car at the time of the crash and fled the scene. Ramos and the child, both uninjured, were picked up by police a short time later.

Krause, a retired Army Colonel, leaves behind a wife of 27-years, and three daughters ages 18, 20, and 24.

“He was all in for his family,” said Tom Krause. “I was going through his records the other night and found he saved his daughter’s homework from elementary school, and we found a bunch of medals and awards that he had never displayed or hung on the wall. He was a selfless kind of guy.”

The family is working with the Army on funeral arrangements, which are expected to be announced soon.

News
Renters in for Sticker Shock

It’s no secret that rental properties in the Potomac Communities are in high demand.

Some say it’s because of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure.

BRAC, as its known, is expected to bring more than 20,000 new military and federal workers to the Ft. Belvoir Army Garrison and Quantico Marine Corps Base, and landlords know those who relocate to these jobs will want to live where they work.

“At least two or three times a week I get an email request from someone relocating to the area. They want a reasonable commute to Fort Belvoir…access to public transportation to D.C. Easy enough to do. Then the hard part or perhaps the reality part hits. Most often they want a three or four bedroom detached home with a garage for under $2,000 a month. Unfortunately reality is the rental prices for a detached homes meeting this criteria starts closer to $2,300, and more likely will be $2,500 or more per month,” stated Woodbridge-based real estate agent Cindy Jones in her blog.

Jones says those who move here can opt for a longer commute time and choose to live in Prince William County to find a home at the $2,000 price point.

Northern Virginia is still a buyer’s market out there, real estate agents say.

It seems many people who are looking to rent still want to see if the market will go any lower, still waiting for their best deals, said Stafford real estate agent Rob Rachon.

“Purchasers are becoming wiser because people do not need to make decisions in one day if they want the home or risk losing it. If they lose out on that home, there will mostly likely be another one like it on the market next week,” said Rochon.

In Stafford, the market has yet to see a major influx of people relocating to the area because of BRAC. But they are coming, says Rochon.

“As people move down here for BRAC the pace will pick up, that’s going to bring more people to the area and fill jobs,” said Rochon.

Traffic
HOV lanes to Close This Weekend

Photo: Mary Davidson
Photo: Mary Davidson

Commuters use a busy Interstate 95 near Woodbridge on a weekday morning. (Mary Davidson)

The High Occupancy Vehicle lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road will close this weekend.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation have ordered the closure so inspectors can get a close-up look of the condition of the lanes.

It’s not a safety inspection, but more of a “taking inventory” of the lanes on Interstate 95 and 395, said VDOT spokesman Mike Salmon.

Message signs will mark the closure, and the lanes are scheduled to reopen before the Monday morning rush hour.

The inspection comes after Virginia transportation officials announced last month they will convert the HOV lanes to toll lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road, just north of the Capital Beltway.

When complete, drivers will have the option to pay a toll to use the lanes essentially buying their way out of gridlock. Occupants in vehicles of three or more will still be able to use the lanes for free.

The new lanes will eventually connect to HOT lanes being constructed on the Beltway, between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road.

News
Around Town

Abduction charges against Mason student dropped
Officials at George Mason University say all abduction charges against a student accused of locking a female student inside of a library study room have been dropped, and the school will now look into how its own police department handled the case, reports The Washington Post.

Stafford’s 2012 budget favors schools
After weeks of talks of budget cuts, cutting staff and mandated furloughs, Stafford County Public Schools received $1 million in additional funding as the Board of County Supervisors agreed on a $240 million budget for 2012. The Stafford sheriff’s office also benefited, reports Fredericksburg.com.

School food show held
Did you have a have a school cafeteria food show when you were in school? Students and parents in Woodbridge were invited to Prince William County Public Schools 21st Annual Food Show on Tuesday where they sampled new dishes and rated them on taste, quality and likability, reports Insidenova.com.

Traffic
U.S. 1 to Close for Crash Probe

Lorton, Va. –– Drivers who want to use Richmond Highway in south Fairfax on Thursday morning will have to find another way.

Police will close both the north and southbound lanes of the four-lane highway at the intersection of Fairfax County Parkway between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Investigators will reconstruct a fatal crash that took the life of 54-year-old Paul J. Krause of Fairfax Station.

Officers will divert traffic from Richmond Highway onto Fairfax County Parkway and Telegraph Road, according to police.

Carlos Sanchez Ramos, 33, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Krause’s death, as well as DUI and contributing the delinquency of a minor, as a 3-year-old was inside Ramos car at the time of the crash, police said.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement today said Ramos had already once been deported from the U.S. as an illegal immigrant, and then illegally reentered the county in 2003.

News
Man Charged in Fatal Crash is Illegal Immigrant

Carlos Sanchez Ramos faces multiple charges in crash that left one man dead. (Submitted)

The man charged in Monday’s fatal crash in Lorton is in the country illegally.

Carlos Lagos Ramos is charged in the death of a Fairfax Station man after police say he lost control of his car Monday night.

Ramos has already once been deported from the U.S.

“Carlos Lagos Ramos, a Honduran national entered the United States without inspection in September 2003. He was ordered deported by an immigration judge in November 2003 and removed to Honduras on January 2004. Ramos later re-entered the U.S. illegally without ICE’s knowledge,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Cori Bassett.

Ramos is charged in Fairfax County with DUI, involuntary manslaughter and with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after he fled the scene of the crash with a 3-year-old child in his arms.

The child was a passenger inside the car at the time of the crash.

“ICE has placed a detainer on Ramos, which means once he’s served out his sentence here in Fairfax County that agency will be able to question him,” said Fairfax Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Sonny Cachuela.

Ramos is scheduled to appear in Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on April 19 on the child delinquency charge, and in General District Court on the remainder of the charges the following day.

Police say Ramos was driving a Honda Civic traveling north on Richmond Highway about 5:22 p.m., lost control of the car, overcorrected and then slammed into a Ford SUV.

That SUV crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with a Mercedes Benz.

The driver of the SUV, 54-year-old Paul J. Krause, was flown to an area hospital where he later died.

The occupants of the Mercedes were also taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

The child was not injured in the crash, and another passenger inside the Honda who stayed on the scene to speak with police, was taken to an area hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, said police.

This latest case follows that of Carlos Martinelli Montano in Prince William County, who police say was driving while intoxicated last year and struck a car carrying a nun, killing her instantly.

Police say it was his third time driving under the influence, and now Prince William officials have filed a lawsuit against ICE alleging they withheld information about Montano and other illegal immigrants.

News
South Fairfax Pins New Development Around Town Centers

Lorton Station is a walk able, town center development in Lorton.

Fairfax County, Va. –– The future of south Fairfax may lay in the success of its destinations, like Woodlawn Plantation, Gunston Hall and Mt. Vernon.

These keystone locations are what have attracted new hotels like Hampton Inn and Spring Hill Suites to U.S. 1 corridor, planners say.

And with their proximity to Washington these destinations may entice military members and their families to relocate to south Fairfax as part of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.

“We’ve seen places like the Lorton Arts Center continues to develop and be a cultural center to our area. And they still have plenty of room and plans to expand there,” said Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation spokesman Tony Fontana.

Next month, SFDC will hold their first Retail Trends and Opportunities seminar focusing business in the Richmond Highway corridor.

The panelists for the event include a representative from the company that owns the 4-million square foot retail shopping mall, Beacon Center, on U.S. 1 – Senior Vice president of Retail Development for Saul Centers John Collich. It will also include the Principal of the Potomac Development Group Tom Maskey, and SFDC Board of Directors member Bruce Leonard.

The gathering aims to show the shift in marketing from the “baby boom” generation to the “X and Y” generation, said Fontana.

Redevelopment on the Richmond Highway will be centered around walk able town centers, differing from the old strip mall approach –– a form of construction in which many retailers say they have over marketed themselves in, said Fontana.

“We always encourage new development in the area, much like what Woodbridge has done with the Wegmans and the town center there. But some retailers feel they have over-retailed themselves and may not want to build additional locations,” said Fontana.

As part of BRAC, Ft. Belvoir stands to gain an additional 20,000 new federal employees and military members, as well as their families.

The seminar will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. April 13, at 5821 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, and advance registration is required.

News
Around Town

Iodine pills for those who live near nuclear power plant
It’s no secret the Potomac Communities are not far from the North Anna Nuclear Power Station. Now the Virginia Department of Health says those who live within 10 miles of the power station –– located in Louisa County –– can now obtain potassium iodine pills to counteract the harmful effects of radiation following the disaster in Japan, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Jewelry store raises money for troops
A jewelry store in Woodbridge is attempting to raise fund for troops through the sale of friendship bracelets, Insidenova.com reports.

Mason basketball team talk of town
It’s March Madness time and the George Mason Patriots are the talk of the town, reports the Broadside.

News
Skeletal Remains Found in Lorton

Lorton, Va. –– Partial skeletal remains have been found in Lorton.

A man walking along Furnace Road on Tuesday called police and reported seeing the remains near the bottom of a railroad bridge just off of the road, said Fairfax County police spokeswoman Tawny Wright.

The remains have been sent to the state’s medical examiner for identification, and detectives today are in the area were the bones were found looking for clues.

The bones were found along the portion of Furnace Road that lies east of U.S. 1.

Last year, a set of human remains were found along Furnace Road, west of U.S. 1, but a photographer who stopped to take a photo of wildlife in the area.

Those remains were also sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond where they remain unidentified.

It’s not clear if both sets of found remains are related.

Police have asked anyone with information in this case to call Fairfax County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.

News
Children Hunker Down for Tornado Drill

Third-grade teacher Elizabeth Penning assists her class during Virginia’s state-wide tornado drill. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Lake Ridge, Va. –– A tornado warning was issued this morning at Lake Ridge Elementary School, but it was only a drill.

When the bell rang, the school’s 500 students either hunkered down in their classrooms or were huddled into the hallways where they crouched in the fetal position.

The exercise was part of Tornado Preparedness Day across Virginia where people at businesses, schools and government buildings across the commonwealth were scheduled to take part in the annual tornado drill.

The drill is held so people will know what to do in the event a twister touches down, and tornadoes are most likely to hit the state in spring, officials say.

The drill began at 9:45 a.m., as warnings appeared on TV and were broadcast on weather radios.

Officials say those who could not participate should have a plan for a tornado disaster and to practice it.

“If you can’t participate at that time, then choose another time or date that works better for you – the most important thing is to have a drill so that you can practice tornado safety,” stated Prince William fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander in an email.

If a tornado were to strike, public safety officials urge people to go to the lowest level of a home or building, or into an interior room or hallway that does not have windows. Once there, cover your head with your arms and drop to the floor and face the floor, officials said.

Tornado preparedness day comes less than a week after a tornado with 90 mph winds touched down in Fauquier County, followed by a second, less powerful twister that damaged trees and property at a shopping center in Chantilly, in Fairfax County.

No one was injured, and those twisters came as part of a nasty line of thunderstorms that developed with last week’s heavy rainstorms.

News
Tornado Drill Starts at 9:45 a.m.

Virginia’s state-wide tornado drill will take place this morning at 9:45 a.m.

Students in schools, office workers at businesses and in government and those at home are asked to participate in  the drill so they will know what to do in the event a twister strikes.

The National Weather Service will send out a test tornado warning triggering a tone alert on NOAA Weather Radio. The warning will also prompt a warning message on radio and TV.

Check back later today for more on today’s tornado drill.

News
Police: Intoxicated Driver Tried to Flee with Child

Carlos Sanchez Ramos faces multiple charges in a crash that left one man dead. (Submitted)

Update 1:20 p.m.
The man charged in crash that killed a Fairfax Station man tried to flee the scene with a child in his arms, police say.

Following the crash involving two other cars at Richmond Highway at Fairfax County Parkway, police say , of Springfield, grabbed a 3-year-old child that was a passenger in the car and attempted to flee the scene on foot.

A short time later, police caught up with the man and child and picked them up.

The child was not injured, and another 31-year-old man who was also a passenger inside the Honda stayed on the scene to speak with police.

The second male passenger was taken to a local hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

Police say Ramos was driving a 1994 Honda Civic northbound on Richmond Highway near Fairfax County Parkway about 5:30 p.m. Monday when he lost control of the car, swerved, and then overcorrected and plowed into a Ford SUV.

That sent the SUV into the oncoming southbound lanes of the highway, forcing it to collide with a Mercedes Benz. The driver of the SUV, 54-year-old Paul J. Krause was flown to an area hospital and later died, police said.

The occupants of the Mercedes, a 73-year-old woman and 77-year-old man, were taken to a local hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life threatening.

Ramos now faces charges of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, driving on an alcohol-revoked license, child endangerment and with two counts of felony hit and run, police say.

Original Post 8:30 a.m.
Lorton, Va. ––
The man injured in a serious crash last night on Richmond Highway has died.

Police have not released the victim’s name, but they do say he was driving  Ford Fusion SUV about 5:30 p.m. in the northbound lanes of the highway when he was struck by a 1994 Honda Civic.

The driver of that Honda lost control of the car and ran off to the road into the right shoulder, then over corrected and struck the SUV, said Fairfax County police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.

Afterward, the SUV was forced into the southbound lanes and collided with an oncoming Mercedes Benz.

The driver of the SUV was flown to an area hospital where he later died, said Caldwell.

The occupants of the Mercedes, a man and wife, suffered injuries that did not appear to be life threatening and were taken to an area hospital.

Two male occupants of the Honda suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The yet-to-be identified driver of the Honda faces multiple charges, including DUI, said Caldwell.

Police say alcohol and speed appear to be factors in the crash.

We’ll bring you more on this story as it develops

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