Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

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How you can open your home to a cultural exchange student

Interested in hosting international high school students? Want to share a piece of American culture with your student and learn from your student’s culture?

Since 1951, Youth for Understanding (YFU) has been hosting students in the U.S. and sending students abroad for cross cultural exchange. YFU hosts thousands of international students from around 70 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia every year. 

Christina Cox is a local elementary school teacher in Northern Virginia and spoke about her and her family’s experiences hosting international students and why you should too. 

 

1. What made you decide to begin hosting international students? 

I was approached at work by a co-worker that said her son’s high school was looking for volunteers to host. My sister was [an] exchange student with AFS and attended the University of Neufchatel in Switzerland, and in the past, my family had hosted a girl from Dijon, France, and another boy from the south of France.

Also, throughout my growing years, we often had visitors from Ecuador and Colombia. It was common for friends and relatives to send their kids to us for the summer to practice their English and learn more about American culture. Those experiences, combined with our own experiences of living in Canada, Eastern Europe, and Germany, gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

2. What year did you decide to open up your house?

We hosted our first exchange student, a young girl from France, in the summer of 2007. Our son, Alexander, was in middle school and our daughter, Mercedes, was entering high school. While she was a very sweet and easy-going guest, she wrote on her application that she spoke an intermediate level of English.

In fact, she spoke nearly no English. I had to interpret for her so she could communicate with the rest of the family. Once, when we were out to lunch, she and Mercedes had shared some tacos. When I asked if she wanted another one, she said, “sure, sure.” When I brought three more to the table, she scoffed and said, “no, no, no,” holding her stomach and indicating she was full and couldn’t eat anymore. We continue to laugh about that to this day.

3.  Favorite memories, moments?

The following year, we took a break from hosting, but the next year we were again approached by Terra Lingua [a different program], the exchange company, and asked to please consider taking a boy from Spain. He was Alexander’s age, was arriving in just over a week, and still had no host family. We accepted him, and that was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship between two boys and their families.

Inigo came to us from Bilboa, Spain. While he did speak a fair amount of English, he improved immensely through continued study in Spain as well as on his return visits to the U.S. Most recently, he stayed with us for his fourth time. He and his parents still communicate with us via Skype every few months. We keep up with each family’s happenings, as well as discuss what’s happening with each country’s politics, economy, and social issues. It makes for a candid and insightful exchange.

Alexander has also visited with Inigo’s family in Spain, even joining them on the family holiday to the Canary Islands. Some of our favorite memories were taking him camping for his very first time ever and introducing him to Dance Dance Revolution games.

Another funny memory is that we always thought we ate more than the Spanish family and that he was probably shocked. As it turns out, he now says he eats just as much and was always hungry, but didn’t want to be rude.

4. Why other families should consider becoming host families.

Other families should consider hosting a foreign exchange student because it allows you to share the best of American culture and the local area. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., this is simply a beautiful place, where people are kind, generous, and genuinely interested in creating positive relationships with people of other cultures. We have much to be proud of and much to share.

5. How rewarding is it to be able to host a student?

We loved being a host family. We know that there does not always exist an automatic chemistry between host and guests, but when there is such chemistry, it becomes an extension of your family. These are friendships that you can maintain for a lifetime.

6. How rewarding was it for your students? What do you think they gained?

I believe my children gained a great friend and extended family in Spain. I believe our guest gained an extended family here in the US and a much better understanding of the American way of life and culture. He can now speak from first hand experience about American culture and hospitality.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about being a host family with Youth for Understanding, please contact local Host Family Recruiter volunteer Amber Champ at amberbchamp@gmail.com and/or visit www.yfuusa.org for more information. 

Manassas is bucking the national trend and welcoming younger entrepreneurs to the city

A wave of business owners under the age of 35 has been bringing both new energy and great new destinations to the City of Manasass.

This activity comes at a time when the rate of entrepreneurship among young Americans has been falling across the U.S. While the Kauffman Foundation recorded the lowest rate of entrepreneurship in 17 years among people between the ages of 20 to 34, the City has been attracting this demographic.

Some of the forces driving this trend include a local culture of support for independent businesses, a collaborative business environment, and a strong sense of community.

There is no greater encouragement for an entrepreneur than the vote of confidence that support from the community can bring. Sean Arroyo, the CEO and co-founder of Heritage Brewing Company, used Kickstarter to see if locals would get behind his brewery concept.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform through which business owners can make sales pitches to raise money for their ideas. He met his goal and raised more than $20,000 from 166 backers three years ago. Support for Heritage continues to grow. A planned expansion will make it the second largest brewery in the state.

“It was funded mostly by people in and around Manassas and Northern Virginia,” said Arroyo. “It signaled to us that people want us here.”

Strong local support makes locating in Manassas an obvious choice for other business owners, too. Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone barbecue restaurant, says his family has been involved with businesses in Manassas for generations. Opening The Bone in the City was a “no-brainer” for him because he likes being in a community with so many independently owned businesses and strong support for buying local.

“The hospitality industry in Downtown Manassas is made up of many young entrepreneurs, which gives the city an energetic, unique flair you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hoover. “We love working with the other [local] restaurant owners to put on special events such as the weekly live music and numerous festivals throughout the year.  It is truly a small town where everyone works together toward the common goal of bringing great food and a great experience to visitors and locals alike.”

Miguel Pires, the owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, also cites the spirit of the community as a factor for opening his business in the City. He says he was raised in his family’s restaurants – Carmello’s and Monza – and worked as a general manager for both establishments for 10 years. When the time had come to open Zandra’s, Pires chose Manassas because he “wanted to continue to expand downtown’s culinary experience.” 

Chris Sellers, the owner of CJ Finz, credits the small-scale buildings in the historic downtown for giving restaurants a more intimate feel and an opportunity to focus on customer service.

“The restaurants here aren’t commercialized,” he said. “We get to build a connection to the community through each table that we serve.”

Business owners who are active with community organizations and civic groups strengthen that connection to the City even more. “People like me, Miguel, and others are excited about being the next leaders of the downtown,” said Sellers.

Entrepreneurs of any age can take advantage of area support services to get their business idea off the ground and join this community. The City’s Economic Development Department’s staff members are available to discuss the local economy, business ideas, great sites for locating new establishments, incentives, and the steps in starting a business.

Also, training and advice is available from George Mason University’s Mason Enterprise Centers, the Community Business Partnership, and the Flory Small Business Center (by referral).

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How VDOT will use a jet snow melter to fight Old Man Winter

Coming to a commuter lot near you this winter (if it snows): A jet-powered snow melter.

The Virginia Department of Transportation gave us an annual look at how they plan to do battle with Old Man Winter this year. It’s the agency’s job to keep more than 17,000 lane miles in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties clear of snow and ice. About half of those roads are major highways and heavily-traveled arterials while the other half is neighborhood streets.

VDOT last year spent $128.5 million on snow removal in Northern Virginia — more than double the $50.5 million budget. This year, VDOT has $70.7 million to spend on snow removal. A series of winter weather outlooks published this week, including one on Capital Weather Gang, indicate at least one major winter storm for our region this season.

The state has an online website that tracks what streets have been plowed after it snows. It’s a popular feature that VDOT continues to urge residents to use.

“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia in a statement. “We continue to encourage residents to use the website for real-time information on their neighborhoods during snow storms. Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our crews.”

Residents in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun may go to the site, enter their address, and see whether or not plowing in their neighborhood has begun or has been completed. They can also track the locations of snow plows.

The agency also listed some tools in the snow removal fight to be used this year:

A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where snow piles can block spaces.

Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.

Two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms.

Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

VDOT will also continue to pre-treat 850 miles of highway before the first snowflake falls.

350 lane miles on interstates—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.

500 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, and 50, are pre-treated with salt brine. Brine (77 percent water, 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, reduces the need for salt to melt ice, is kinder to the environment and can lower snow removal time and costs.

The agency will also deploy more employees to monitor snow plowing operations, and will continue a 2-year test a brine mixture that is used to pre-treat roads. Using brine to treat roads has been successful in western U.S. states and it could reduce the need for salt use here in Virginia, according to a VDOT statement.

How Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas matches the right CAREGiver to your loved one

Editors note: This paid promotional post was written by Potomac Local in collaboration with Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas, serving Prince William and Fauquier counites.

Matching the right CAREGiver to the right client is a very serious and rewarding job.

Gail Earhart is the Relationships Manager for Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, which provides local CAREgivers to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties.

“On a daily basis a lot of what I do is in the staffing department because we have clients on any given day…or up to any given week we could have up to 60 to 70 shifts to fill,” said Earhart.

However, filling the slots with CAREGivers isn’t the easiest task to complete. One of the biggest challenges Earhart and the staffing team faces when filling shifts is that each client has different needs, and each CAREGiver has a different preference.

“So you might have a client who has a dog or a cat and then you have a CAREGiver, who won’t go to somebody who has a dog or a cat,” said Earhart. “Or you have a client who has Alzheimer’s so we have to ensure that we have a CAREGiver, who’s seasoned working with somebody who has Alzheimer’s.”

 

Consultation 

Finding out the preferences and needs for both client and CAREGiver are important steps in delivering quality care. It starts at the beginning by consulting with new clients by Client Care Coordinators.

“Our Client Care Coordinators go out, and when they’re doing a consultation they find all this information out,” said Earhart. The Client Care Coordinators then return and tell staffing what exactly their client needs and the appropriate type of CAREgiver for their client.

Home Instead has 200 CAREGivers, which seems like a daunting task when matching the right CAREGiver to the right client. However, members of staffing know the CAREGivers so well they make it their job to know who is the right fit for their client.

Recently, Earhart completed a consultation of a client who was described by his daughter as “narrow minded” and “stubborn.”

In this case, the family requested a CAREGiver who was assertive and not someone young who the client can potentially take advantage of. So Home Instead matched the correct CAREGiver to the client who would make sure the client did what might seem the most basic of things, eat regular meals and shower on a regular basis.

 

Filling specific needs 

Sometimes, clients can be very particular about finding the right CAREGiver. And that’s OK. Many times families prefer non-smokers in the home or simply a companion for their loved one.

“Sometimes they say ‘I want a really talkative CAREGiver. Somebody’s who’s going to sit with my mom for three hours and just talk about life’ and we have that and that’s part of our service,” said Earhart.

Much of a CAREGiver’s role is “filling that gap” when a family member needs to go out when they can’t be with their loved one. Which is why it’s so important for a perfect match to exist between client and CAREGiver.

“The last thing I want to do is send somebody in there who’s a very quiet CAREGiver. We have those too so we want to make that perfect match,” said Earhart,” …but we tell every client if we don’t send the correct CAREGiver, if there isn’t a match, it doesn’t feel like a good fit, call us because we can send you somebody else.”

Successfully matching clients and CAREGivers can sometimes be an “ongoing process,” but when that perfect match happens and the client or client’s family sends positive feedback there’s no better feeling.

A care consultation can take up to an hour and a half .

“The first probably 45 minutes is just talking to the family, getting to know the family, finding out what their needs are. We have a complete form [and] we’re taking notes the entire time,” said Earhart.

It’s within these first 45 minutes do Client Care Coordinators know whether or not the client will be signed up. The last 30 minutes is dedicated to paperwork but discussion still happens between the family and client and Client Care Coordinator.

 

The best and most common questions families ask Client Care Coordinators include:

 

What type of CAREGiver will be sent to me?
Are they certified, bonded, or insured?
Do CAREGivers do drug testing?
Will the CAREGiver be permanent or temporary?

 

“Obviously our goal is to have permanency so if somebody is scheduled Monday, Wednesday, Friday they want the same person,” said Earhart.

However, it’s not a guarantee that clients will always have the same CAREGiver. It may take between two to three weeks to find the best two CAREGivers for clients in case one CAREGiver needs to call out in the future.

Some clients need around the clock care and see up to three CAREGivers each day.

“When we have a 24/7 client, we work on having 24/7 teams. We’ve had a client now for almost two years that has the same eight CAREGivers on that team” said Earhart. “They just rotate through the week and then the weekend.”

 

If its not working

It can be hard for families to initiate the conversation that a CAREGiver isn’t working out.

“We do get those phone calls and it might be ‘my dad’s just not hitting it off with this CAREGiver’,” said Earhart, “or maybe it’s something that the client unfortunately just doesn’t like about the CAREGiver and that’s okay too because not everybody makes a connection, not everybody makes a hit.”

To find out why a match isn’t successful, Earhart normally gets to the center of the problem. For example, if a family complains that the CAREGiver is on the phone too much steps will be taken to correct that and no further action needs to be taken. Or the family loves the CAREGiver but the CAREGiver can’t cook or complete a certain skill that properly fulfills the client’s needs.

“Jeannie Carroll is our CAREGiver Retention Coordinator and she has the best job here I think at Home Instead because she works directly with the CAREGivers,” said Earhart.

Jeannie spends 30 days with the CAREGivers, accompanies them on their first shift, and supervises them for 30 days to monitor their progress.

 

Making it a success 

What helps to make success more likely for both client and CAREGiver is that initial intake and assessment that has all of the client’s needs and preferences. When a CAREGiver is first assigned to a client, they must read everything about that client and if a CAREGiver’s preferences don’t match with the client’s, another CAREGiver can be assigned before one is sent to the client.

Journals are provided to the family and client to take note of the daily care received and if something raises questions, Home Instead can be contacted. Phone numbers are not exchanged between client or the client’s family and CAREGiver so that everything goes through Home Instead’s office.

“No client is ever left without somebody, so whatever it takes we’re going to be there,” said Earhart. 

Manassas Park Community Center starts ‘thank you’ pandemic to spread gratefulness

Don’t be alarmed, but in case you hadn’t heard summer is over and the Thanksgiving season is here.

Now is the season where people make a special effort to recount all the things they are thankful for in their lives. For many, it has become a tradition to share this list at the dinner table on Thanksgiving before eating.

Being mindful of your gratitude helps make you a happier person and, as happiness is contagious, it will make others around you happier as well. While it’s a wonderful and fun tradition to practice during Thanksgiving, the benefits of gratefulness can be enjoyed year round.

However, being grateful and focusing on what you are grateful for isn’t enough.

It’s easy to neglect to use the phrase, “thank you,” but those two simple words carry so much meaning. Thank you can reinforce and strengthen bonds we share with others.

When you say thank you to the person who makes your lunch in the morning, to your child who finishes their chores, or to your favorite cashier ringing up your purchase you express that you value that individual. Regardless of how monotonous, simple, or mandatory the task is, it should always be acknowledged and appreciated verbally.

Remember, gratefulness spreads happiness, but how can you express gratitude if you never say “thank you?”

Why do people neglect to say thank you? There are probably a myriad of reasons beyond my scope of knowledge and it’s easy to compile a list of cynical reasons – but let’s not create an anti-grateful list during the season of gratitude.

Instead let’s challenge each other to say a sincere and genuine thank you every day. Say it 10 times. Say it 100 times. Thank you is a rare phrase that has meaning no matter how frequently it is repeated.

Once you start saying thank you to others you’ll instantly notice others will start saying thank you to you. If happiness is contagious, and gratitude creates happiness, then it shouldn’t be surprising gratitude is contagious as well.

I’d like to start this gratitude pandemic. From me and on behalf of the entire City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, we’d like to thank you for all that you do. Even if we haven’t met yet, thank you. If we have met, thank you. Thank you for visiting our parks and our community center and giving value to the work that we do here. You are our community and we are here to work together to build our community up together.

To add further meaning behind our gratitude and to help spread our gratitude we are offering two specials this month. On Thursdays (through November 19) you can donate 10 non-perishable food items in order to receive 10% off a Basic or All-Access membership at the Manassas Park Community Center.  

From November 27 through December 4, we will be launching our ‘Friends and Family’ promotion where we share our employee discount with all of you. During that week only, you can get a Basic membership for 25% off.

For more details please contact us at 703-335-8872.

News
Delayed start for commuter bus service from Dale City, Lake Ridge to Mark Center

New commuter bus service from Woodbridge to the Mark Center in Alexandria is delayed.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission on Monday said plans for new buses between Dale City and Lake Ridge to the Mark Center would start in mid-January, about a month later than originally planned. A new ramp from Interstate 395 to Seminary Road was supposed to have been constructed by this fall, but work continues the ramp, according to PRTC.

The new commuter service will begin as soon as the ramp opens.

Commuters will pay $8.30 for a one-way fare on for the bus, $6.20 if using SmarTrip. There will be four morning and evening trips for both the Dale City and Lake Ridge buses.

The Dale City bus will serve a commuter lot at Gemini Way, and stops along Dale Boulevard before proceeding to I-95. The Lake Ridge bus will serve commuter lots at Tacketts Mill, Minnieville and Old Bridge roads, and the Old Bridge & Route 123 commuter lot before heading north on I-95.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will pick up the cost of the new bus service as a means of mitigating congestion on I-395.

The transit service faces a $9 million shortfall that could hamper existing service by 2017. So far, local officials aren’t talking about it.

PRTC on Monday also announced small changes in service as part of its annual fall service change: 

Manassas OmniRide buses will no longer serve Williamson Boulevard. Additionally, three more AM Manassas OmniRide trips will become express trips, originating at the Portsmouth Commuter Lot. This is in addition to the three express trips on the current AM schedule.

 There will be minor map and timetable changes to some other routes.

News
NOVA Woodbridge begins HVAC dual enrollment for high school students

The Natural Science and Mathematics Division at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus has partnered with Prince William County Public Schools and SySTEMic Solutions to offer on-campus Air Conditioning and Refrigeration dual enrollment courses to Prince William County high school students.

The program began this semester with students from Gar-Field, Freedom, Potomac, Woodbridge, and PACE East high schools. Five days a week the students attend HVAC classes at the NOVA-Woodbridge Campus in the morning and return to their respective high schools in the afternoon to complete their high school coursework.

Students will complete college-level coursework to achieve credits toward obtaining an HVAC-R and Facilities Services Technology Certificate by the time they graduate from high school. Prince William County Public Schools Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Doug Wright, NOVA Dual Enrollment Coordinator Courtney Hill, Dean of Natural Science & Mathematics Alison Thimblin, Assistant Dean of Natural Science & Mathematics Adam Johnson, Director of SySTEMic Solutions Amy Harris, and Rusty Jensen, of the NOVA Woodbridge faculty worked together to develop and launch the AIR Dual Enrollment program.

Antonio Sorto, a sophomore at Woodbridge Senior High School plans to attend NOVA after he graduates to pursue an associate’s degree in HVAC-R. 

“I decided to enroll in the program because I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn something that really interests me,” Sorto said. “I love doing hands-on experiments, and I can use this skill as a back-up career in life or possibly make it my main career option.”

For more information about the HVAC Dual Enrollment Program at NOVA, call 703-878-5741.

 

News
Prince William traffic unit helps keep drivers safe on roads

Traffic is one the most common complaints from those who live around here. That means officers in the Prince William County Police Department Traffic Unit have job security.

The 21 police officers that make up the traffic enforcement unit are easy to spot on their blue motorcycles.

Many times you’ll see posted on the side of the road running speed checks using LiDAR, a device that uses lasers to scan a larger portion of a roadway full of cars coming and going, more so than standard radar speed detection.

The officers in this unit write hundreds of speeding tickets per month. It’s not because they’re avoiding fighing “real crime,” or that they’re trying to “fill a monthly quota” of written speed tickets, as the common misconceptions state. They’re out to keep drivers safe.

“It’s an uneasy feeling to get stopped by police,” said Master Police Officer Steve Bennett, who’s been with the Prince William County Police Department for 17 years.

Bennett sat in an unmarked police cruiser at the corner of Spriggs and Lindendale roads in Dale City. He used a LiDAR detector and scanned the field of oncoming and passing cars.

He picked his spot carefully. By the time drivers reach this spot, they should have been able to see the posted speed signs three times, said Bennett.

“We try to be as visible as possible. We don’t hide behind trees or behind signs,” he said.

Most cars traveled the posted 45 mph speed limit, or just a few mph over. A few cars traveled in packs but barely exceeded the speed limit.

A Prince William County school bus stopped in front of a daycare center, blocked traffic in the right lane while sitting with its yellow flashing lights on for about two minutes before putting on its red lights and discharging a child. Most drivers approaching the bus from behind saw yellow and correctly slowed down but passed the bus. Another approaching driver in the left lane saw yellow lights and incorrectly stopped, briefly halting traffic on Spriggs Road.

The bus and subsequent traffic obstruction wasn’t in the road long enough for Bennett to issue a warning. Bennett sees instances like these, and situations where drivers cut off other drivers by pulling out in front of them, and drivers texting behind the wheel all day long.

But just when he thought this stretch of Spriggs Road was safe, Bennett spotted a white Lexus traveling at 60 mph toward Saunders Middle School.

Bennet first spotted the speeder, and then used his LiDAR detector to confirm the infraction. He pulled into traffic and pursued the driver by putting on lights and siren. The driver pulled over into a right turn lane indicating he was coming to a complete stop, but then oddly pulled back out into the right travel lane and then came to a full stop.

Bennett got out of his car and approached the driver and asked him to pull into the school parking lot up ahead. The driver did.

“I don’t ask ‘do you know why I stopped you,” explained Bennett. “I feel like it’s trapping them into admitting something they did wrong.”

Now with the driver, Bennett showed the digital readout on the LiDAR detector that indicated he had been traveling 15 mph over the posted speed limit. Bennett then came back to the police car where he ran the driver’s license and registration with the help of a radio dispatcher.

Bennett wrote a ticket and presented it to the driver, and he was on his way. He would most likely repeat that process again before the day ends, he said.

Traffic on area roads is often congested, forcing commuters to spend hours traveling to and from work. When it’s moving, the LiDAR tool helps police officers scan the entire width of roads for speeders. It is especially helpful for officers patrolling the wider four and six lane roads in Prince William County.

The LiDAR system looks like a set of binoculars that an officer holds up and points toward traffic. A laser sends out 200 pulses per second across the roadway. Fifty pulses per second bounce back from moving vehicles, and those return pulses tell the LiDAR detector how fast the cars are traveling, said Bennett.

Police cars are also outfitted with traditional radar systems that can indicate the speed of vehicles traveling behind and in front of the officer. These tools, along with visual indicators, help police stop speeders.

When not doing speed enforcement, officers in the traffic unit assist patrol officers when responding to calls for help from county residents, and assist officers and fire and rescue crews called to the scene of traffic crashes.

One of those crashes involved one of their own when Officer Chris Yung on his police motorcycle was struck by a minivan and killed while responding to a call for help on New Years Eve 2012. Yung was the third Prince William officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1970.

Bennett urges drivers to leave the house earlier, to pad a little more “time and patience” into their commute.

“When you leave late, you get into the mindset of beating the clock, and you often say ‘now I’m late.’ I know because I’m the same way.” said Bennett. “But I’ve seen that if I leave earlier, and I know I’ve got an extra 10 minutes, I’m more apt to let someone merge in front of me so we can all get where we’re going.”

Volunteers needed for Dumfries Christmas parade, tree lighting

Volunteers are needed for the Dumfries Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 5, 2015.

The parade will start at noon, and the tree lighting will start at 5 p.m.

Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and have the opportunity to serve the community.

Interested parties should contact Community Services Director Brittany Heine at 703-221-3400, ext 144 or by email Bheine[at]dumfriesva.gov.

Learn what makes a good news story for your business, organization: Join us for ‘1 Million Cups Meets the Media’

1 Million Cups Meets the Media, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

8:30 to 10 a.m. FREE! RSVP Today!

What makes a good news story?

How do I know if a news or features writer would be interested in my story, organization, business, or event?

What is the difference between “earned” media and advertising? Which one is better for me?

Many people who are tasked with getting out the word about events, happenings, and information about their businesses ask these kinds of questions all the time.

When looking for answers it pays to hear about what makes a good story from the editors and publishers of three media organizations in Prince William County.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18  from 8:30 to 10 a.m., please join us for a special edition of 1 Million Cups Prince William — “1 Million Cups Meets the Media.”

This hour and a half session will be a free, informative meeting designed to help you better understand how the local media industry works, and how to get a reporter’s attention.

Space is limited so be sure to RSVP online today.

Joining us will be:

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Rebecca Barnes — Founder and Publisher of Prince William Living Magazine

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Jason Grant — Communications Director for Prince William County Government, pwcgov.org/news

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Uriah Kiser — Founder and Publisher of PotomacLocal.com News

1 Million Cups Meets the Media will be held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center located at 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Free coffee will be provided to attendees.

1 Million Cups Prince William regularly meets at 9 a.m. every Wednesday at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. The meetings are designed to foster entrepreneurs and support the growth of small business in Prince William County and Greater Manassas.

News
Voters keep Stewart, Anderson to replace May on Prince William Board of Supervisors

stewart, prince william, supervisor

 

Incumbents keep jobs at county courthouse 

Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart At-large will return for his 9th year on the Board in 2016.

The Republican beat out Democrat challenger Rick Smith for the county’s top job by 14 points, with nearly 57% of the vote. Stewart gained the national spotlight in his early days on the Board of Supervisors for his stance on deporting illegal immigrants convicted of crimes.

At a debate between Stewart and Smith on Oct. 1, Stewart said he’s softened his approached, and learned its a better way to get things done in the county. Under the Republican, the county has invested more than $1 billion into improving transportation, placed more funding for police officers, and opened two new libraries in the county.

Stewart took to social media and posted a photo of he and his family, and thanked his supporters.

Stewart was first elected to the Board in 2006 to serve as the Occoquan District Supervisor and was elected Board Chairman the following year. Stewart won re-election as Chairman in 2011.

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Republican Ruth Anderson was elected the new Occoquan District Supervisor, beating out former Town of Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta, a Democrat by eight points. Anderson is the wife of Delegate Rich Anderson, who ran unopposed for his re-election bid for the House of Delegates.

Ruth Anderson replaces Mike May, who decided not to seek reelection to mount a bid for Prince William Commonwealth Attorney. May was defeated by Paul Ebert, who has held the position since 1968.

May posted this to his Facebook page:

The results are all in, and sadly, we came up short by just a few percentage points. The journey we have been on for the past year has been extraordinarily rewarding. I could not have imagined the huge outpouring of support, friendship, and love that we have received from people all over Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Amelia and I will forever be grateful to the hundreds of people who have helped us both in large ways and small during this campaign. You have all been a blessing to us.

I congratulate Mr. Ebert on a victory well won, and wish him the best in his new term in office. As I finish out these next few weeks as a member of the Board of County Supervisors and beyond, I look forward to finding new ways to serve our great community, and to seeing each of you again.

With Anderson’s election to the Board, the re-election of Republican Maureen Caddigan, of the Potomac District, and Democrats John Jenkins, of the Neabsco District and Frank Principi, of the Woodbridge District, the political make-up of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will remain the same: Five Republicans and two Democrats.

Supervisors Marty Nohe, Coles District, Peter Candland, Gainesville, and Jeanine Lawson, Brentsville — all Republicans — ran unopposed and will keep their seats.

Caddigan’s Democratic challenger Andrea Bailey lost her bid to unseat the long-serving Republican by 535 votes. Democrats say it’s a sign of a shifting political makeup of the Potomac District, which includes Montclair, Southbridge, and Dumfries and Quantico towns.

Principi remains cemented in his heavily Democrat-leaning Woodbridge District, defeating Republican challenger Steve Chapman by 32 points.

While Pual Ebert remains Prince William’s Commonwealth Attorney, Michele McQuigg will keep her job as Clerk of the Court. The Republican beat out attorney Jacqueline Smith, a Dumfries attorney, by a narrow margin of four points.

Sheriff Glen Hill also ran unopposed and will keep his job guarding the Prince William County Courthouse.

Great fall recipes from Manassas Olive Oil

Fall is here! Check out some of these recipes from Manassas Olive Oil Company!

Tuscan Herb Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing beats a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold day. But ditch your can – this soup recipe is going to make you look forward to those cold and rainy days. Recipe courtesy of KBCulinary.

Ingredients:

2 large carrots, peeled – quartered then sliced

2 stalks celery, stalks halved, then sliced

2.5 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 pearl onions, peeled and quartered

1/2 C spring onions, chopped (the green stems)

3-4lb chicken thighs

3 pinches Manassas Olive Oil Co. Rosemary Sea Salt

~3/4 Cup Tuscan Herb Olive Oil

Herb de Province (amount to personal preference)

Parsley (amount to personal preference)

80 oz chicken broth

Egg noodles (amount to personal preference)

Generously coat chicken thighs in Tuscan herb olive oil, herbs, and sea salt mixture and bake at 350 until internal temperature of 165, allow to cool and pull meat from bone.

In stock pot cook carrots and celery in butter for 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to get a good coat of butter on vegetables. Add garlic, pearl onions, spring onions, one pinch Sea Salt, and ½ cup Olive oil, Herb de Province and parsley; cook for five minutes stirring every 60 seconds. Add broth and cover until just to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Add meat and one pinch sea salt to soup base after 30 minute simmer time, and increase heat to bring to SLOW boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add egg noodles and cook for eight more minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.

For an additional compliment, add some crostini. Slice sourdough baguette, drizzle with flavor infused olive oil and dried herbs. Bake on shallow baking pan at 350 until crisp.

Autumn Kale and Quinoa Salad

 

ale

It’s tough to get in a healthy meal. This salad will make you actually enjoy kale for a change! Packed with nutrients, easy to make, and has a nice seasonal flair.

Salad

2 cups raw, peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2″ cubes.

2 cups prepared quinoa, cooled

1/2 cup Manassas Olive Oil Co. Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup shaved Pecorino

6 cups washed, dried mixed greens or baby kale

Pinch of sea salt

Dressing

1/2 cup +2 tablespoons Gremolata Olive Oil

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons Grapefruit White Balsamic

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons mustard

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl whisk the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of balsamic. Add the cubed butternut squash and toss to dress with olive oil and balsamic. Place the butternut squash in a single layer in a pan or on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until the squash becomes golden brown. Allow to cool.

In a blender or food processor, add all of the dressing ingredients. Process to combine well, and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Combine 1/2 of the butternut squash, quinoa, and kale and arrange on a large platter or in a large shallow salad bowl. Add some dressing and toss to combine. Add the rest of the butternut squash over the top, sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds, and add shaved Pecorino.

Serves 6-8

Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 

Baked-Sweet-Potato-Fries-with-Honey-Spice-Dip.ashx

Truly a treat, and a compliment for any dish you make this season!

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

1/3 cup Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic

2 tablespoons Butter Olive Oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

PREPARATION:

Heat oven to 400F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a half sheet jelly-roll pan.

Thoroughly shake or whisk together the Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic and Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In a large bowl toss to liberally coat the sweet potato wedges with the emulsified balsamic-olive oil mixture.

Arrange the potato wedges on the parchment paper lined pan in a single layer, without over-crowding. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 45 minutes until tender and the balsamic glaze has caramelized.

Chips 4 Charity: Fabulous food, dancing, prizes, top-notch games at Harbour View in Woodbridge

On November 13, 2015, the Woodbridge Rotary and the Greater Prince William Health Center will host its 4th annual ‘Chips 4 Charity’ event.

Chips 4 Charity, a casino night, being held as a vehicle for raising funds for its two host organizations, is the largest community fundraiser for each. For the health center, proceeds will go to fund special programs within the center, providing care for uninsured families in our community. For Woodbridge Rotary the proceeds will fund such organizations as Good Shepherd Housing Foundation, The ARC, Project Mend-A House and The Boys & Girls Club among others. In the last 3 years, Chips 4 Charity has funneled over $75,000 in funds into the community through the organizations it supports. 

Harbour View in Woodbridge is decked out in its finest by our professional casino operation. The food is fabulous. There’s dancing, prizes and of course top notch gaming handled by dealers that make the evening a high energy, engaging event even for non-gamers. Our dealers will teach you everything you need to know to enjoy several types of gaming including poker, Texas hold’em, roulette and blackjack for all skill levels.

Since its inception, Chips 4 Charity has been a huge success thanks to support from key players Harbour View Event Center and Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ and our many sponsors and community attendees. We would not have been able to grow this event to its current stature without all of those entities coming together. Don’t worry though- We still have plenty of room on the sponsor banner for your logo and we’d love to have you involved!

Some people love to go all out in their formals and tuxes and we know some don’t, so attire for the event ranges from cocktail dresses to khakis.

Harbour View is our beautiful venue located at 13200 Marina Way in Woodbridge, right on the the Occoquan River. When you walk into the casino room and all the curtains are open overlooking the marina the tone is already set for a magical night. 

Remember: your sponsorships are still welcome! And even if you don’t sponsor, Come on out and spend a great evening supporting your community!

How you can volunteer to help Manassas Park Trunk-or-Treat

As an avid volunteer in the community myself, I can’t emphasize enough how important volunteering is. As a citizen you discover what a difference you can make in the community.

You’ll meet new people, create a positive impact in your community, and make important connections to help you in your personal and professional life. Businesses can also benefit from volunteering. Aside from meeting potential customers businesses grow their brand and reputation.

When thinking of what a community is, it’s easy to imagine distinct and isolated categories, but in truth a community is comprised of citizens, the local government, small businesses, and local non-profits. We’re all in this together so when we work towards a positive change in our community it has a resounding impact for everyone no matter how small the effort may appear.

Fortunately in the Prince William County area there are a plethora of non-profits and organizations looking for volunteers. CASA, Project Mend-A-House, Rainbow Riding Center, the Red Cross, PFLAG, the Independence Empowerment Center, Comfort Cases, Final Salute, the Arc of Prince William, SERVE, the Haymarket Food Pantry, and the Matthew’s Center are just a few that immediately come to mind. To simplify efforts, you can contact Volunteer Prince William to see which organizations have a pressing need for volunteers.

The City of Manassas Park’s Department of Parks and Recreation is always looking for volunteers as well. From helping us maintain the parks, to participating in our various committees, to having extra hands to run special events, there exists a multitude of volunteer opportunities.

manassas-park-trunk-or-trea

The next special event we’re hosting is Trunk or Treat. This event provides a safe place for families to trick or treat while also offering crafts, activities, hayrides, and a moon bounce. To make this event a huge hit we need help from the community. Volunteers can bring their decorated vehicles and pass out candy and other treats while also dressing in costumes. Businesses and non-profits are welcome to promote themselves while participating. The more businesses and citizens that volunteer as vendors the more exciting the event becomes for the children.

Whether you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity or you’re a family looking for a safe place to celebrate Halloween, we hope you’ll join us for Trunk or Treat on Saturday, October 31st from 5:30pm-7:30pm. It’s free for volunteers to participate as vendors. If interested, prospective volunteers should email Tony Thomas at T.Thomas@ManassasParkVA.gov.

This post was written by Jason Shriner. 

Great Halloween trick-or-treating options offered at 5 Prince William Shopping Centers

Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.

Bristow Center in Bristow, Bull Run Plaza and Davis Ford Crossing in Manassas and Dillingham Square and Potomac Festival 1 and 2 in Woodbridge will offer kids the chance to trick-or-treat store to store for candy and other goodies.

Each event will feature balloon artists and face painters. Merchants will also host sidewalk sales, contests and giveaways. 

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Bristow Center, located at the intersection of Nokesville and Linton Hall roads, features Harris Teeter and CVS/pharmacy. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bristow Center on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. The shopping center is owned by BLJV, LLC. 

Bull Run Plaza is located at the intersection of Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive in Manassas, and includes Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Office Depot and Chili’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bull Run Plaza on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Davis Ford Crossing is at the intersection of Liberia Road and Prince William Parkway in Manassas. The center features L.A. Fitness, Petco and Staples. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Davis Ford Crossing on Saturday, Oct. 24 from noon to 2 p.m.

Dillingham Square is at the intersection of Old Bridge Road and Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge.   The center includes Food Lion, Gold’s Gym and Brittany’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Dillingham Square on Saturday, Oct. 31 from noon to 2 p.m. The shopping center is owned by Old Bridge Retail Investments, LLC. 

Potomac Festival includes businesses on both sides of Potomac Mills Road and features hhgregg, Buffalo Wild Wings, Staples and Savers. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Potomac Festival on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Rappaport provides property management, leasing and marketing services for the centers.

Chinese travel to Manassas to learn about local government

When delegates of the Shaoxing Yuecheng District in China were looking for an American local government to learn from, they selected the City of Manassas.  

On Oct. 20, 2015, the City of Manassas hosted five members of the Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation from China.  Vice Mayor Way and City Manager W. Patrick Pate put together a team of senior staff to speak to the group.  The group heard from the Chief of Police, Voter Registrar, Treasurer, City Attorney and the Purchasing Manager about local government processes and transparency in government.

Members of the delegation were impressed to learn that the Manassas City Police Department is in the top one percent of police departments internationally as evidenced by their current CALEA rating.  Delegates asked questions as to which agency, out of the Federal government, state or local governments were responsible for the different aspects of government, such as elections and public safety.

At the end of the event, members posed for a group photo.  Members from the City of Manassas include City Manager W. Patrick Pate, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way, Purchasing Manager Jimmy Falls, Treasurer Robin Perkins, Voting Registrar Ann Marie Bausch and Director of Economic Development Patrick Small.  The Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation included Mr. Jin Quanhai, Vice Secretary, CPC Yuecheng District Committee of Shaoxing City, Mr. Chen Jirui, Town Chief, Yuecheng Lingzhi Town People’s Government of Shaoxing City, Mr. Wang Yin, Director, Yucheng Fushan Sub-district Office of Shaoxing City, Mr. Zhao Xiongwei, Deputy Director Shaoxing City Yuecheng District Economy and Information Technology Bureau, and MaChao, Secretary, CPC Yuecheng Chengnan Sub-district Committee of Shaoxing City.

Woodbridge Supervisor candidate vows to provide better customer service if elected

Editor’s note: This promoted post is paid for by Chapman for Woodbridge Supervisor

A small business owner says his customer service skills would  come in handy in local government if elected Woodbridge District Supervisor.

Steve Chapman, candidate for Woodbridge District Supervisor, shows energy and enthusiasm when speaking about his plans to bring Woodbridge together as a address everyday “streetlight” issues in area neighborhoods.

While knocking on doors and speaking with Woodbridge, Chapman heard from residents who said they wanted “better customer service” from a locally elected official.

“I understand the important roles small businesses play in partnering and connecting. I started my small business, Wash My Deck, during my junior year at Woodbridge High School,” Chapman said.

He is still running the company 21 years later. Growing a small has taught him the significance of quality customer service, he said.

If elected, Chapman will use his previous small business experience to become a successful Woodbridge Supervisor. Small business ownership and Woodbridge Supervisor skills correlate, as he would be responding to, championing, and being an advocate for all constituents in both situations.

Throughout his campaign, Chapman has talked to thousands of Woodbridge residents at their doors, including Jaqueline Meyer asked Chapman for a recommendation on a roofing company to repair her roof. She wanted to prevent water damage to her home during the torrential rainfall at the end of September.

“The reason I contacted Steve was because he is very well connected in the area and has lived here a long time. I’ve lived here for eleven years. I’m busy commuting from work, so I don’t have anybody [to recommend businesses],” Meyer said.

When asked about the qualities she’d like to see in the next Woodbridge District Supervisor, she said she’d like them to be honest, hardworking and sincere.

“I’m glad she reached out. This is what a supervisor should be. Someone who is trusted and brings people together to work on building the community,” Chapman said.

Meyer reaching out to Chapman is an example of how he wants to be thought of if elected. He wants to be trusted by the community to represent the district fairly, passionately, and thoughtfully.

“People need services such as plumbing, painting, roofing and car repairs.

If we solicit services from local Woodbridge companies, we help our families and our neighbors,” Chapman.

Chapman has specific plans to put his words into action. The candidate plans to vet businesses to make sure they have the proper licenses and insurances.

Additionally, he would like to create referrals of local businesses for Woodbridge residents, should they need a service. This will provide citizens with options they can trust

“A devotion to seeing local business flourish by connecting people with companies and each other will ensure a safer, stronger Woodbridge,” said Chapman.

Chapman has also orchestrated community events to connect residents and neighbors. Earlier this spring, Chapman organized a community Easter egg hunt that attracted over 250 children at Veterans Memorial Park in Woodbridge.

“Communities should make residents feel included, protected, and provide a chance for residents to be heard,” said Chapman.

This post is written by Sarah Katzenstein, a second year undergraduate student at George Mason University. She is majoring in Communication with a focus in Public Relations.

These upcoming events help you celebrate ‘Spooktacular Manassas’

Now that the leaves are starting to take on red and auburn hues and the morning air feels crisp – it means it is time to celebrate fall in Manassas! From the annual Fall Jubilee to creepy cemetery tours, there is something going on every weekend in the City. There is no better place to celebrate autumn and Halloween!

The 2015-16 season of the Manassas Ballet Theater starts on Oct. 23 with the show “Jazz in Motion,” which combines ballet with contemporary and classic jazz standards. Show your tickets to several downtown restaurants and receive a dinner & a show discount! See the complete list online. Hylton Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $15.

Take a guided tour of the Spirits of Manassas on Oct. 24 and trace the stories of the weird and sublime. Hear about historical figures who once passed through town, including authors Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe, The Gray Ghost (John S. Mosby) who spent time at the old Opera House, and learn about strange incidents along the railroad tracks – including a ghost cow! Tours start at the Manassas Museum on the half hour from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $15/adults; $7.50/kids 12 and under.

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Join the last bicycle tour of the season on Oct. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m. Explore historic areas around Manassas with fellow cyclists. See historic homes, the only remaining earthwork constructed in 1861 by Confederate soldiers, and more. Buy tickets at the Museum, online, or call 703-368-1873 – $5.

Swing by Haunted Happenings on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon for family fun. Activities will be held in the Center for the Arts parking lot. Kids can decorate their own pumpkin and participate in a costume contest before heading into downtown businesses for trick-or-treating. 9431 West Street. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Hurricane Joaquin threatened to rain out the Annual Fall Jubilee, so it was rescheduled for Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Browse cool crafts, play games, pick out a pumpkin, and enjoy live music and dance performances. Enter pumpkin pie baking and eating contests or the cornhole tournament. Manassas. Free.

Follow the Headless Horseman to the Pied Piper Theatre company’s production of Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. and  at 3 p.m. Metz Middle School. 9950 Wellington Rd. Tickets start at $11.

Don’t miss taking a tour of the Manassas City Cemetery, which dates back to the 1860s, on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Manassas is not a quiet little town where nothing ever happens! Listen to tales about the City’s most notorious figures, gory murders, criminals behaving badly, and crossed debutantes. Manassas City Cemetery at 9317 Center Street. Buy tickets at the Manassas Museum, online, or by calling 703-368-1873 – $5. (These stories are not meant for children’s ears!)

Follow the trail of balloons downtown to businesses displaying artwork by local featured artists during the Fall Gallery Walk on Friday, Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Get a jump start on your holiday shopping and support patient care at the Holiday Bazaar at the Novant Health Prince William Medical Center on Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse handmade and one-of-a-kind items – see the website for a list of vendors. Medical Office Building, 8700 Sudley Rd., 14th floor. Free.

Join your fellow community members at the Greater Manassas Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stop by a downtown coffee shop and settle in along the parade route along Center Street to celebrate area Veterans. Downtown Manassas. Free.

Don’t forget the farmer’s market continues to be open on Thursdays in the Harris Pavilion and Saturdays in Parking Lot B from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick up your favorite fall staples before grabbing lunch nearby.

Find arts & crafts vendors, hayrides, food trucks at Manassas Park Fall Arts and Crafts Festival

The Manassas Park Community Center is excited to announce their first annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival to be held on Saturday, October 17 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. This festival will feature arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, games, hayrides, and a moon bounce.

The festival is the culmination of the tireless work of many individuals. For the past four years the community center has hosted the Fall Arts and Crafts Cornucopia which focused on vendors, but the community challenged the Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation staff to create a full feature festival.

Met with the opportunity to better serve the community, the Parks and Recreation staff envisioned a festival that combined the hometown charm of art and crafts with family friendly entertainment. There has been a lot of excitement in anticipation of the event as seen in the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival Facebook event where you can also see previews of the merchandise vendors will be selling.

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Parking next to the festival, located at the Stone House off of Old Centreville Rd, will open at 9:30 a.m. Additional handicap parking will be assigned at that parking lot. Parking in front of the community center is encouraged as the hayrides will also shuttle participants to and from the festival. The community center parking lot will be open at 7 a.m. All are welcome to attend this free event.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street, Manassas Park, VA 20181. The community center features an indoor swimming pool, two fitness rooms for aerobic and strength training, and two full basketball courts. The community center also provides recreational opportunities such as programs and classes for all ages. For more information visit www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com.

Spine-chilling tales will be told at historic Brentsville Courthouse, Rippon Lodge

With nearly 300 years of settled history, Prince William County has generated more than its fair share of paranormal activity. For those who would like to know more about our local ghost stories, special programs at two historic sites will explore some of the more famous stories and even possibly scare you.

Brentsville Courthouse 

It is said that Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center is haunted by the men and women who passed away in this area. On October 23 and 24, Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre in Bristow, Virginia will host special candlelight tours of the site. Each tour will explore some of the haunted history of the site, such as the murder of James Clark inside the renovated jail, or a 19th century County Sherriff, and much more!

Tours will begin at 7 p.m., with the last tour leaving at 9 p.m., though tours are not recommended for children under 12. Reservations strongly recommended.

For more information please call 703-365-7895.

Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge 

It was once said that Rippon Lodge is said to be haunted in such a ghostly and sinister fashion that no one will occupy it.” On October 30, Rippon Lodge Historic Site in Woodbridge, Virginia will present a special evening program about famous ghost stories from Colonial Virginia. Our amphitheater will come to life for a delightfully spine chilling evening! Story times will be at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.. The cost is $5 per person, and reservations are strongly recommended.

For more information please call 703-499-9812.

Are you feeling creative? The call for the 2nd banner art contest for 2016 is open

A creative spirit and an artistic flare contribute to the City of Manassas’ “modern beat.” Once the historic downtown was designated an Arts and Tourism district, it became PL 2a growing destination for public art, galleries, and events. From works of art by local artists on display in restaurants and in City Hall to the curated shows and performances at the Center for Arts, the community embraces and celebrates creativity. This month, however, the City of Manassas’ art scene is interactive. Artists and art lovers have three opportunities to contribute to the community’s creative vibe.

First, it’s time to vote for your favorite banner on the lampposts in downtown. Historic Manassas Inc. sponsored a contest calling for banner designs and received more than 130 works of art from area artists. Faced with a tough decision, a Selection Committee chose 60 pieces of art to decorate the downtown and named the contest’s winner – “Train Station” by Kelly Willis, which featured the City’s historic depot.

But there is a second prize still up for grabs – the $500 People’s Choice Award. After months of admiring the works of art blowing in the breeze, you can now vote for your favorite. You have many choices ranging from fiery sunsets to cherry blossoms to teetering tea cups. Pick up a walking tour guide at the Manassas Visitor’s Center in the train depot and stroll downtown to view each banner one more time. Enjoy a day downtown, pick up a cup of coffee, do a little shopping, and deliberate over lunch before dropping off a ballot at the Manassas Visitor’s Center by Oct. 30.

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Are you feeling creative? The call for the second banner art contest for 2016 is now open. Artists over 16 may submit their designs and vie for a chance to be a part of Manassas’ art scene. The application and guidelines are available on Historic Manassas’ Inc.’s website. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 15, 2016. Don’t wait for the last minute. In addition to having your work on display in the community, there is a $1,000 grand prize.

Lastly, since it is never too early to get into the holiday spirit, the City has issued a call for ornaments for the holiday tree at Virginia’s Executive Mansion. All submitted ornaments will be on display at City Hall, but one lucky ornament will be sent to Richmond. The Governor is seeking one-of-a-kind, handmade ornaments that fit in with the theme, “Celebrating Virginia’s Localities.” If you have an idea for a unique way to represent the City of Manassas, drop your 6-inch ornament off at City Hall by Oct. 20. Learn more online.

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