Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Occoquan Local

Occoquan Police Chief, Town Sergeant Sheldon Levi to retire

During the September 6, 2016 Occoquan Town Council meeting, Occoquan Police Chief and Town Sergeant Sheldon Levi announced his retirement effective December 3, 2016, after more than six years in these positions. Levi first joined the Town of Occoquan as an Auxiliary officer in 2007, and was appointed Chief in 2010, following Occoquan Town Sergeant Mary Brown’s departure.  In June 2013, Levi, in addition to his police responsibilities, was appointed as Acting Town Manager, while the Town Council conducted a search for a permanent appointment to the position.

Levi is the Town’s only full-time police officer and, during his tenure, expanded the Town’s Auxiliary Officer program in an effort to reduce cost and increase police coverage and availability. Prior to his appointment, the Town employed anywhere from one to three full-time or part-time officers at various times throughout the department’s history. In addition, Levi is the Town’s first Chief of Police with the Town’s previous chief law enforcement officer being designated as Town Sergeant.

“Chief Levi has been much more than the Town’s chief law enforcement official in his tenure with the Town of Occoquan,” said Mayor Elizabeth A.C. Quist. “He has been an integral member of Town staff during a period of growth and transition, and I offer sincerest congratulations to him on his pending retirement. He will certainly be missed.”

Levi began his law enforcement career in the City of Falls Church, VA as a Deputy Sheriff with the Falls Church Sheriff’s Office.  Since that time, he has held law enforcement positions with the Towns of Haymarket and Quantico, before coming to Occoquan.  In addition, Levi served as an Auxiliary Police Sergeant with the City of New York Police Department, served as a certified EMT, and provided and taught fire service photography.

“I have been serving as your Chief of Police and Town Sergeant for over six years, but the time has come for me to open a new chapter in my life,” Levi stated during the meeting. “It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to work for the Town of Occoquan…and I will miss working at the best job I have ever held.”

The Occoquan Town Council will conduct a search to find Levi’s replacement throughout the coming weeks.

Occoquan’s Rivermill Park opens to hundreds

Rivermill Park opened to the public Saturday unveiling views not seen in nearly 50 years.

Hundreds turned out for the ribbon-cutting event in Occoquan at 10 a.m. Mayor Elizabeth Quist, Fairfax Water Chairman Phil Allin, and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart attended the event.

The new park features a walking trail, green space, performance stage, restroom facilities, and views of the Occoquan River over rocks and one of two dams used for the Occoquan Reservoir. Some likened the views to those at Great Falls National Park in Northern Virginia, where the Potomac River falls over rocks.

Locals and elected officials talked about building Rivermill Park in its current location, at the end of Mill Street in Occoquan since the early 2000s. The parkland was once a water treatment facility owned and operated by Fairfax Water, the organization that opened the water treatment plant in 1967.

The water treatment plant closed in 2007. Since then, the water company worked with Prince William County and Occoquan Town officials to build the 1.1-acre park. Fairfax Water leases the land back to the town for park use.

Prior the park’s opening, large water tanks were demolished to make way for the public green. Visitors were not permitted on the land to see the river overlook during the years the area was used as a water treatment plant.

Good News Community Kitchen opening in Occoquan

From The Good News Community Kitchen

To commemorate the grand opening of The Good News Community Kitchen, Founder/Executive Director, Mercedes N. Kirkland-Doyle, has scheduled a ribbon cutting ceremony, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Lake Ridge, for August 10, 2016.

The ribbon cutting will begin 5 p.m.  at The Good News Community Kitchen, 308 Poplar Alley #B, Occoquan, VA, 22125. Representatives of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to assist with the ribbon cutting.

After the official cutting of the ribbon, there will be a social time with refreshments provided by The Blue Arbor Café, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, and Not Your Average Joes.

The Good News Community Kitchen visualizes citizens, throughout Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, uniting together to facilitate clothing drives to assist women and men transitioning back into the workforce, distributing hygiene bags and meals-to-go to the hungry, collecting coats and blankets to distribute to the unsheltered and sheltered underserved to keep warm in the winter, providing nutritious emergency meal units to assist families that identify food insecurity and serving warm “family-like” meals to our adopted local housing shelter.

Our mission is to rebuild and strengthen communities by fighting hunger one meal at a time. In all that we do, our goal is to add value to the lives of others while emulating our core values: Outreach, Unity, Compassion, and Selfless-Service. Throughout the years we will work diligently towards implementing our Core Four Programs: Mobile Meals, Hygiene Heroes, Trends to Transition and Warm Winters.

These guys were just too darn loud for the Occoquan Craft Show

Guitarist Mike Johnson plays with the “Roughshod Records SideKicks Show.”

He sent a video of his two-man band performance to Potomac Local shot at the June 4 Occoquan Spring Craft Show. Occoquan Town Sergeant  Sheldon Levi appears in the video at about 4:30 and shuts down the amplified performance.

It appears some of the craft vendors, who paid between $300 to $475 to showcase their wares at the event, did not appreciate the duo using an amplifier during their set. Levi asked the band to turn off the amplifier.

At about 7:25 in the video, Levi comes back to speak with the country music band. The duo then packs up and ultimately leaves the spot they had been playing at, in front of Union Street Guitar Works. Johnson states he’s been attending craft shows in Occoquan since 1997 and has never seen anything like this.

Here’s a statement from Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Jovanovich:

The show rules that are provided to each vendor and publicly available on the Town’s website state that “Amplified music is not permitted, with the exception of entertainment contracted by the Event Director.” This is done in an effort to ensure that any entertainment present at the show does not disrupt the participating vendors or public and does not inhibit their ability to conduct business throughout the show. In this particular instance, we received a complaint regarding the amplified music and the disruption it was causing and asked that the individual stop using amplified music as per the show’s policies.

We also spoke with the property owner who stated that they did give permission at the band’s request to play during the show on their property, but did not contract the group for the service. We invited the group to continue playing acoustically in that location in an effort to reduce the noise impact on the surrounding vendors or to participate as entertainment in a future show where they would be contracted by the Town and have an opportunity to play and sell their music as part of the show.

We do our very best to create a lively and family-friendly atmosphere that includes a mix of crafters, artisans, foods, businesses, and entertainers, but must do it in a very purposeful manner that will allow for all participants and visitors to receive the most out of the experience.

In the video, Johnson claims he emailed Union Street Guitar Works on May 31 and said he had permission from a Union Street Guitar manager to play in front of the store. We spoke with the manager who told us Johnson contacted him ask asked if it was OK to come and play in front of their property, and the guitar shop said OK.

Union Street Guitar Works sells two of Johnson’s CDs inside of the store. When asked if Johnson would be allowed back to play in front of the store again, the manager replied “I really can’t say.”

There are two craft shows each year in Occoqaun, one in spring and one in fall. They shows are the largest tourism draws, and fundraisers for the town.

Prince William Sheriff to kick off Special Olympics torch run in Occoquan

Special Olympics Virginia on Thursday will kick off its Law Enforcement Torch Run in Occoquan.

“We will celebrate this partnership at the Law Enforcement Torch Run Kick-Off Ceremony, May 26 at 11:30 am in Historic Occoquan (200 Mill Street), during which we will officially light the “Flame of Hope” as officers prepare to run it thousands of miles to Richmond. The Ceremony, which commences the countdown to Summer Games (June 10-11 in Richmond), will bring more than 100 law enforcement officers from across Virginia to Northern Virginia, as well as Prince William County Sheriff Glendell Hill, the 2016 State Chair of the Virginia Torch Run.” 

-Virginia Special Olympics spokeswoman Holly Claytor

Prince William County Sheriff Glen Hill is the Chairman of the 2016 torch run:

“Sheriff Glendell Hill became the Chairman of the 2016 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia in October of 2015. Special Olympics Virginia Law Enforcement Torch Run is a voluntary partnership between Special Olympics Virginia and law enforcement members. The program is designed to raise money to help sponsor and support Special Olympic athletes throughout Virginia. Each year, thousands of officers and deputies run, raise money and extend the ultimate gift of friendship, acceptance and inclusion to the 21,000 Special Olympics athletes from Virginia.” 

-Prince William County Sheriff Glen Hill spokeswoman

Here’s more from Virginia Special Olympics:

In addition to lighting the Flame, we’ll also celebrate the fundraising efforts of the more than 2,000 officers involved in the Torch Run, sponsored by the SunTrust Foundation, the Wawa Foundation and Enterprise and supported by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Sheriff’s Association, the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Virginia Association of Regional Jails and the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Since June 2015, they have raised a record $1.3 million for Special Olympics, pushing their overall fundraising total to more than $18 million since the Torch Run’s inception in Virginia in 1986.

Then, beginning June 4 in Bristol, officers from across the Commonwealth will run the Flame more than 1900 miles, from every corner of the state. On June 10, Metro Richmond officers will run the last leg from the Capitol to the University of Richmond’s Robins Stadium, where they’ll join more than 1500 Summer Games athletes and officially open Summer Games. For the Northern Virginia route (Region 1), which begins at 9:30 am June 9 at the Iwo Jima Memorial, visit the Torch Run Web site,, and click on the Routes link.

Torch Run History: The Torch Run began 33 years ago with founder Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon, and five law enforcement officers carrying the torch for Special Olympics Kansas’ Summer Games in Wichita. The Torch Run has since evolved into the largest grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics with more than 100,000 law enforcement participants around the world, and a cumulative sum of a half a billion dollars raised since its inception in 1981.

2 main reasons to workout with a trainer at Manassas Park Community Center

With the temperatures warming up outside, it’s natural to feel the urge to get up, get out, and get active.

There is still plenty of time to reach your fitness goals before beach season hits, but as we get closer and closer to summer, you may find it difficult to stay on task and stay motivated. That’s where personal training can come in handy.

To help you reach your fitness goals, the Manassas Park Community Center will give you an additional 10 free 30-minute personal training sessions when you renew or purchase an annual Basic or All-Access Passport membership throughout the month of April.

If you’re like me though, you may not exactly understand what personal training is or how it can benefit you. I sat down with our Deputy Director, Jay Swisher, who has worked as personal trainer and oversees our personal trainers here at the community center and asked him some questions I had about personal training.

Shriner: So, what exactly is a personal trainer?

Swisher: A personal trainer is someone who provides not only guidance in the technical sense but also moral support to someone in an effort to help them reach their fitness goals.

Shriner: I’m fully capable of going to the gym and working out or running on the treadmill. What is the advantage of using a personal trainer versus just going to the gym on my own?

Swisher: There are two main reasons to work out with a trainer:

First, you’re working with somebody who is specifically trained in an exercise science based discipline. That specialized knowledge will allow them to prescribe the most effective program to help you fulfill your fitness goals. Exercise prescription includes everything about your workout routine – the recommended exercises, repetitions, sets, weights, frequency, and so on. This knowledge is derived from different places including past experience or background, which can include education and formal training.

Second, you’re gaining a support system. A trainer will motivate you and hold you accountable. Sure, you can go online and download sheets of exercises or watch YouTube videos but those videos aren’t going to text you to make sure you’re keeping up with your routine or encourage you to keep going when you feel like you’ve plateaued. In addition, your trainer will be able to monitor your form by demonstrating how to properly perform exercises. You can put yourself at risk by performing exercises incorrectly, but also incorrect form means you aren’t achieving your maximum potential and getting the most from each exercise.

Shriner: Okay, so I’m convinced. What do I need to look for in a personal trainer? How can I make sure I’m picking a good trainer?

Swisher: The first thing you want to do when you’re considering using a trainer, or even when you want to work out on your own, is figure out what your fitness goals are. Search for a trainer whose skill set best matches your needs. If you have very specific fitness goals, you’d want to seek out a personal trainer who has expertise in that same area.

It’s important to vet your trainer to make sure they are truly qualified. Check their background, ask about their experience and certifications. When it comes to certifications, check for reputable agencies such as AAFA, ACE, or ACSM. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a mini session. Tell them about yourself. Say you’re a 44-year-old male with high blood pressure who has been sedentary for the past 15 years and one of your goals is to lose 10 pounds. Listen to what the trainer would recommend and see what they demonstrate. How do you feel about their training style? Ask them about their fitness philosophies – do they make sense to you? What it boils down to is you need to ask questions, listen to the answers, and observe their style. (more…)

Live Well Festival to feature health and wellness activities, farm to table brunch

Spring has sprung and it’s time for the year’s first festival in historic downtown Manassas! The 10th Annual Live Well Festival, formerly known as Spring Cleaning Day, will be held Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. – 2 .p.m in the Harris Pavilion and along West Street. Health and wellness information, exercise classes, a farm-to-table brunch, and more will be available. (more…)

What does it take to buy a Habitat For Humanity home?

A Habitat for Humanity Home Dedication touches the hearts of the family who will own the home, the volunteers who worked to build or rehab the home and the donors who made it possible through their generous gifts. 

Manassas Farmers Market has more vendors, ‘Take-Out Tuesdays’

The City of Manassas Farmer’s Market is back for its 25th peak season. Running from April through early November, the market is open on both Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Thursday market will be housed at the Harris Pavilion beginning April 7, while Saturday shoppers can find all their market necessities in Parking Lot B, across from the Train Depot beginning April 9. (more…)

Who is Gar-Field Senior High School named after?

Gar-Field High School, located on Smoketown Road, was originally established near Cardinal Drive and Route 1 on land donated in 1949 by Martin Gilmer Garber and Grover P. Manderfield. (more…)

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