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Police: Laser blinds flight crew

Michael E. Promisel, 18, is charged with endangering the lives on a flight crew.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.  – A Fairfax man was charged Thursday with endangering the lives of aircraft operators.

A county police chopper was flying over Mantua Elementary School, near George Mason University, when the pilot spotted a group of people at the elementary school at 11:26 p.m.

“The helicopter was returning from another mission at another location in the county when the pilot spotted the group at the elementary school,” said Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright.

The pilot called officers on the ground investigate, and as officers arrived one of the members of the group shined a laser light at the helicopter, blinding the crew members, said Wright.

There were no reports of injuries.

Michael E. Promisel, of 8938 Glenbrook Road in Fairfax, is charged with interfering with the operation and an aircraft, said Wright.

If convicted, Promisel could face up to 12 months in jail or a $2,500 fine, said Wright.

News
BRAC Employees Could Reject Area

Joe Martin, Board Chair of Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance, discusses the benefits of having BRAC workers relocate to the area. (Photo: Mary Davidson)

MOUNT VERNON, Va. – Traffic congestion may force some of the 20,000 federal employees that are expected in the region next year because of BRAC to stay away. One local business group aims to convince them otherwise.

BRAC, the military’s acronym for base realignment and closure, authorized in 2005 by congress, will force the relocation of the tens of thousands of federal and military employees to Ft. Belvoir Army Base and Quantico Marine Corps Base.

(more…)

News
Across Town: Hospital gets new president

In this week’s Across Town, a look at business happenings around the area: A local hospital gets a new leader and it’s your free chance to find out more about the BRAC relocation.

Megan Perry will serve as Sentra Potomac Hospital's president.

Hospital’s new president

Sentra Potomac Hospital announced it has a new leader.

Megan Perry, who has worked as a health care executive for the past 10 years with Sentra, was promoted to President of Northern Virginia operations as well as operations at Woodbridge’s Sentra Potomac Hospital.

She will be responsible for marketing efforts for the hospital. (more…)

News
Woman charged after car gets stuck on 95

A driver exchanges information with a state trooper after her car became stuck on I-95.

Trying to skirt a traffic back-up on Interstate 95 didn’t pay for a Fairfax woman.

When the 28-year-old female driver of a tan sedan tried to bail out of heavy traffic on the southbound lanes in Woodbridge she hit a ditch and got stuck after sometime after 2 p.m. Friday.

The woman used a gravel median just south of Prince William Parkway, trying to make a break for the less-congested express lanes, said Virginia State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Now stuck, the woman could be seen through a Virginia Department of Transportation traffic camera sitting in her seat looking around for help, but no one stopped. (more…)

News
Quake ranks with area’s biggest

The U.S. Geological Survey map depicting the Washington area quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey map depicting the Washington area quake.

Gloria Jean Parker-May felt thought Friday morning’s earthquake was something else.

“Right about 5 a.m. I thought I was dreaming, and then wondering why such a big truck would be driving through the neighborhood,” said May about the feeling the quake. “So that explains why the bed was shaking.”

She lives in Dale City, but the 3.6 magnitude quake was centered about 50 miles north in Germantown, Md., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake hit at 5:04 a.m., prompting at least six resdidents in Prince William to call 911 to report they felt something out of the ordinary.

Stafford County public safety officials said they received no calls.

No injuries and no damage was reported.

The quake quickly became the talk of local morning TV news shows and on social networking sites on the Web.

It’s not often the area residents feel the earth move.

The region last felt a large quake on Dec. 9, 2003, when a 4.5 magnitude earthquake shook homes in Charlottesville. The epicenter of that quake was located in Powhatan County, 104 miles south of Washington.

The largest quake ever recorded in the region, a magnitude 4.8, occurred in 1875, according to the U.S.G.S.

News
Friday Finds

Car lovers visit a North Stafford car show July 10, 2010. (Mary Davidson)

With the hot weather hanging around there are still plenty of cool things to do this weekend.

North Stafford Car Show

The North Stafford Car Show takes center parking lot Saturday, behind Brewster’s Real Ice Cream at Va. 610 and Travis Lane.

The show runs from 3 until 9 p.m. and features more than 50 classic and rare cars, along with contest giveaways raffled off every half hour and a lot of socializing among gear heads and local residents.

Admission is free. (more…)

News
Quake rattles area

The U.S. Geological Survey map depicting the Washington area quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey map depicting the Washington area quake.

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck the Washington region about 5 a.m. Friday.

The quake was reported to 10 miles northwest of Rockville, Md. and 15 east of Leesburg, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck 3.1 miles below the surface in Maryland.

According to initial reports, Prince William County public safety officials received calls about the quake.

Stafford County Public Safety officials say they did not receive calls about the quake.

We are working to find out how many other areas reported feeling the quake.

Traffic
Beltway lanes to shift Friday

HOT lane work is ongoing at the Springfield Mixing Bowl. (VDOT)

HOT lane work is ongoing at the Springfield Mixing Bowl. (VDOT)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – A five-lane portion of the Capital Beltway will be reduced to four lanes tomorrow.

The Virginia Department of Transportation calls it a lane shift, and it will take place three-quarters of a mile before Va. 620 (Braddock Road). The new lane configuration will be in place until late December and comes as part of the Beltway High Occupancy Vehicle lanes project.

At 9:30 p.m. Friday, crews will work to re-stripe the pavement and place barriers around the construction zone, reducing traffic down to one lane in the area.

The new traffic pattern should be in place by 9 a.m. Saturday, a VDOT spokeswoman said.

Transportation officials tell motorists to expect major delays in the area during the construction hours.

Crews aimed to complete the lane shift on July 9, but inclement weather prevented them from doing so.

The HOT lanes will be two new lanes between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road, which will add capacity to the Beltway. Vehicles with three or more passengers will be able to use the lanes for free or single drivers can opt to pay a toll to use the lanes when they are completed in late 2013.

News
Found human remains still unidentified

LORTON, Va.—Skeletal remains found in Lorton on Monday night will be sent to Richmond for a closer examination.

The medical examiner’s office in Fairfax County worked Tuesday with an anthropologist to try and identify a human skull and skeletal remains found on Furnace Road about 8 p.m. Monday.

The team decided Tuesday to turn the case over to forensic scientists at the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond.

“It will hopefully happen sooner than later, but it could take weeks or months before we hear anything,” said Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright. (more…)

News
UPDATE: Human remains sent to Richmond

UDPATED: The human skull and skeletal remains found on Furnace Road in Fairfax County will be sent to the state’s medical examiner’s office in Richmond.

A state medical examiner and an anthropologist worked Tuesday to identify the remains during an autopsy but came up empty.

Once the remains have been sent, it could be weeks before an identification is made, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright. (more…)

News
Copy paper, supplies needed for schools

Cynthia McAree and Robert Sowell Sr. of Apple Federal Credit Union, and Stafford School Board Chairman Dana Reinboldt-Griffis-Widewater and School Board member Stephanie J. Johnson – Aquia, kick off the annual “Stuff the Bus" school supplies drive on Monday. (Mary Davidson)

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – When school officials last year set out to collect school supplies for children in Stafford County, residents and businesses donated $30,000 in supplies to the cause.

Those supplies, like pencils, notebook paper and marble composition books, went to help more than 350 families.

This year they hope to do better.

Members of Stafford’s school board and banking managers from Apple Federal Credit Union gathered in North Stafford on Monday to kick off this year’s Stuff the Bus school supplies drive.

As part of the drive, now through August 25 you can drop off new school supplies to the Apple FCU branch in the Doc Stone Shopping Center, at Chick-Fil-A at Doc Stone, Storage 2000 in Aquia and on Va. 610 in North Stafford, the Walmart at Stafford Lakes off U.S. 17 and the Stafford County Public Schools Administration Building near the county’s courthouse.

One item that elementary schools can use this year: white copy paper.

“A lot of jurisdictions across the country have faced financial difficulties and we’re no different. Copy paper is an important thing to have as teachers use it for worksheet assignments they pass out,” said Stafford County School Board Chairman Diana Rienboldt – Griffis-Widewater.

School officials reminded those who will donate this year that many stores, including the ones the Stuff the Bus drive has partnered with, already have school supplies stocked. (more…)

Traffic
VRE says goodbye to Amtrak

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

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – It seemed like a long time coming but a French company is now in charge of operating of Virginia’s commuter railroad.

Keolis Rail Services of America began operating Virginia Railway Express trains on the system’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines today as part of a five year, $85 million contract. After months of wrangling between VRE, Federal Rail Administration officials and Amtrak managers – who did not want their employees persuaded to work for the French firm – Keolis hired more than 80 new conductors, assistant conductors and engineers in May to facilitate train operations.

Offers were made to Amtrak employees to stay, but only one Amtrak worker decided to join the French firm that has never operated in the U.S. before now.

One week ago today, while many enjoyed a day off because of the observed July 4 holiday, Keolis crews made their first full test runs on the VRE system. (more…)

News
Exclusive: Drowning victim was looking to start new life

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va.  – It was a marriage that brought the Kangs and Ackermans together. It was a sad and unexpected accident on Thursday that brought them even closer.

Miwha Kang, 61, died early Friday morning at Mary Washington Hospital after she fell into a swimming pool at her home on Cardinal Drive in south Stafford.

Her death has been tough on her husband, Paul, who found her in the pool. It’s also been difficult on the rest of Kang’s extended family, whom are doing all they can to comfort each other during a trying time. (more…)

Traffic
House removed from Beltway

A mobile home involved in a crash on the Capital Beltway is hauled away.

UDPATE: The house trailer that fell onto the Capital Beltway on Thursday afternoon and snarled traffic has been removed.

Crews were seen hauling away the prefabricated home at 5:37 p.m., about 20 minutes earlier than state police initially estimated it would be cleared from the roadway.

The house was being transported by tractor trailer when at 12:19 p.m. a car changed lanes and cut the driver of the tractor trailer off, just north of Dulles Toll Road.

The driver of the tractor trailer then swerved into another lane to avoid hitting the encroaching vehicle, but in doing so collided with a Ford F-450 pickup, a state police spokeswoman said.

The trailer flipped and the house hit the pavement.

No one was injured, and so far no charges have been filed in the crash, but the damage to traffic flow in the area was done. (more…)

News
75 tips gained in Harrington case

FAIRFAX, Va. – The phones have been ringing at the Virginia State Police office since investigators linked the abduction and sex assault of a woman in Fairfax and the death of a Virginia Tech student.

Investigators last week said newly discovered forensic evidence linked the death of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington, who disappeared from a Metallica concert at University of Virginia in October, to the case of a 26-year-old woman who was abducted and raped while walking home to her apartment complex on Jermantown Road in 2005.

Harrington traveled to UVA with friends to see the band perform, but later separated from her friends and then went missing.

“Since the story went national, we have received 75 credible tips from portions of the state and the country,” said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

In addition to traditional sources of media, police credit bloggers with helping to publicize this latest development in the case.

So far only a sketch of the man suspected in both crimes has been released and no arrest has been made. (more…)

Traffic
HOV hours extended on I-95

Photo: Mary Davidson

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The sun sets later during the summer and now drivers can use Interstate 95’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes a bit later too.

Until Sept. 23, the lanes will remain open to southbound travelers until midnight Monday through Thursday, allowing drivers to skirt traffic delays that may be caused by highway construction and increased traffic on the highway, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.

The HOV lanes will then reopen to northbound traffic the following day at 2 a.m. (more…)

News
Residents asked to conserve power

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The increase in temperatures prompted a local power company to demand on Wednesday that residents decrease their use of air conditioners and household appliances.

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative issued an emergency declaration to its customers at 1:30 p.m., after energy demand on its power grid soared. People in 13 states and in Washington receive electricity from the grid.

The utility asked residents to reduce the amount of electricity used in their homes between 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. That meant turning up the in-home thermostat to 78 degrees, and not using household appliances like the stove, oven, dishwasher or clothes dryer until after sunset. (more…)

News
Thieves target landscaping equipment

FAIRFAX COUNTY Va. — Thefts of landscaping equipment in the Newington area has been on the rise in recent weeks.

Now police and the presidents of two landscaping companies, East Coast Professional Landscaping and GMI Professional Landscaping Services, will speak to the public at noon, asking whoever is stealing their equipment to stop.

They’ll speak at 7819 Loisdale Road in Newington.

Since February, there have been 75 reports of thefts of various pieces of landscaping equipment in that area, police said.

It’s estimated the stolen equipment has cost the victim businesses about $500,000, according to Fairfax police.

News
Predator fish caught in Quantico Creek

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Once you catch a Snakehead fish you have to kill it immediately.

And that’s what Joey Campbell did after reeling one in July 1, while fishing on Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

His Snakehead weighed in at 13.6 pounds, about average for a fish that can grow to be 33-inches long.

The Northern Snakehead is an invader from Asia and Korea, and since 2002 has been found in the Potomac and in Aquia Creek in Stafford County, to points north in Prince William, Fairfax and near Maryland shores.

It’s still a mystery as to how this creepy fish found its way to here. One thought is someone who owned one as a pet and then released it into the river. (more…)

News
Mt. Vernon welcomes new U.S. citizens July 4th

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Lance Cpl. John Ramirez knows what it’s like to have a loved one taken away.

Ten years ago, guerrilla fighters in Columbia abducted his uncle, taking him away from Ramirez and his family. It was a trying situation, one that left Ramirez thinking that he would never see his uncle again, he said.

But by the “grace of god” Ramirez’s uncle was returned to him, he said.

His family then came to the U.S. in 2000. Ramirez became a Marine in 2007.

On Sunday on the Fourth of July, at the home of this nation’s first president, he became a U.S. citizen. (more…)

News
Heat wave takes aim at region

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — After an Independence Day weekend with relatively low humidity, Mother Nature will drive the mercury back up across the region this week.

The National Weather Service has placed most of the Washington area, including Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties, under an excessive heat advisory until late Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to shoot above the 100-degree mark this week, up to 103 in some places, according to the weather service.

It’s going to get even hotter in places to the west, along Virginia’s Interstate 81 corridor, according to the weather service. (more…)

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