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DefCon Cyber on alert in Prince William, protecting critical assets

The time from when a cyber attacker can access a company’s internal systems to the time the company responds is about 204 days or about seven months. Many agencies rely on email alerts to notify them of network intrusions, but they don’t always work. (more…)

Manassas businesses shine, take home top awards

On Thursday evening Feb. 25, 2016 the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 5th annual business awards dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas to honor the best of the local business community. Awards recognize excellence in business, innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.

(more…)

News
Lines form for Bar-J reopening

A woman walked into the new Bar-J restaurant in Occoquan and quickly came right back outside.

“Do you have a takeout menu?” she asked, opting to get her lunch to go due to the scores of people inside.

The storied chili parlor and restaurant’s return to the area brought out big crowds for its opening day in Occoquan. The restaurant is a 30-year-old tradition in the area, as the business once had locations in Lorton and at Gordon Plaza on Route 123 in Woodbridge, which closed in 2004.

“It’s just the same as it’s always been. It’s the Bar-J,” said Jeff Grooms, who drove from Fredericksburg to eat Texas chili mac. (more…)

Momentum Aerospace Group takes on the world’s most difficult problems

From a sinking ferry on a great lake in Africa, 14 lives were saved.

Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle above Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo in summer 2015, a sensor operator sitting next to the pilot noticed a sinking ferry 40 nautical miles from shore.

“We joke around and say he used the “force” because he’s not a maritime guy, not former Navy or solider,” said Joe Fluet, CEO of Momentum Aerospace Group (MAG).

A total of 21 people were aboard the ferry that was capsizing in the lake. The drone operators had been on a reconnaissance mission seeking out intelligence on an insurgent group on the other side of the great lake. They deviated from the mission, took another pass near the sinking ferry and provided the geo-location position data of the doomed boat to the Congolese coast guard.

“In much of the world, when ferries sink everybody dies because there are no radios, no way to get rescue and no way to contact anybody. Those 14 people got to go home and be with their families that night,” said Fluet.

That was a memorable day for MAG; a six-year-old company Fluet founded shortly after retiring from the Army Reserve. Now with more than 600 employees on five continents, operating about 100 aircraft, the company headquarters sits in Woodbridge, Va.

MAG has become the hub for people who want to work in remote areas of the world, taking on difficult challenges, with the mindset of “country first.”

“We’re not a lifestyle company,” Fluet said. “The happy MAG employee has two things in life: work and family. Someone who wants to come in at nine and leave at five won’t do well at MAG because they won’t be happy.”

Checking and responding to emails late at night, and working on projects on weekends is just the beginning of the workload for the type of employees MAG attracts.

The reward for this work is high. “MAG pays above market for most positions”, said Fluet. “There’s also the satisfaction in a job well done, with a focus of a mission is to “make the world smaller and a safer place.” His company’s interests align with those of the U.S., and he expects the same kind of patriotism from his employees.

Before founding his company, Fluet was tasked in 2004 by the Pentagon to set up the very first Aviation Special Operations Unit in Afghanistan. After two tours in the Army and now with the Army Reserve and National Guard, Fluet was tapped for the project because of his experience in the cockpit.

fluet4He spent one year in Afghanistan, where he called on the help of several contractors to get the job done. Unimpressed with the”mercenary” attitudes of many, the contractors he worked with were more about getting paid than providing a service to their country.

“I was unhappy with the contractors I hired at the time,” said Fluet. “I genuinely believed I could do it better than what I’d seen.”

When MAG began, Fluet found himself in Washington, D.C. almost on a daily basis, in meetings, providing support and winning contracts. Better communications technology today means he and his employees can work better remotely. His presence in D.C. has significantly diminished.

He chose to locate in Prince William County because of its business-friendly climate and proximity to the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir Army Base and Marine Corps Base Quantico. There’s also plenty of military service members in the area to make it feel like home.

“I went for a run one morning, stepped out onto my block, and I counted 11 American Flags outside of houses,” said Fluet. “Where else do you see that?”

More companies like his are locating to Prince William County because there’s Class A office space for 25% less than the cost of similar spaces in Northern Virginia. MAG will continue pursuing business from the military, U.N., and NATO, all while working in more remote and non-permissive areas across the globe.

The region took notice of MAG earlier this month when Fluet took home a 2016 SmartCEO Future 50 Award. The ceremony recognizes the region’s fastest-growing mid-size companies. Collectively, Future 50 CEOs employ more than 8,000, and have a cumulative $2.3 billion revenue.

It’s difficult to list what MAG does in a 15-second elevator speech. Fluet says that’s both a curse and a blessing.

“If you hired me to fly to you to Indianapolis because you needed to interview someone there, I’m happy to do that for you. But there are literally 5,000 companies that can do that. I would prefer to be hired to conduct aerial surveillance in Yemen. Not a lot of companies can do that.”

This promoted post is written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Prince William County Department of Economic Development to showcase business in the region.

Winning spinach and chorizo soup now on Manassas menu

A frigid winter evening didn’t hold people back from coming to historic downtown Manassas for the 2nd Annual Souper Bowl, Friday, Feb. 5.

Crowds filled the sidewalks and shops as they explored downtown and tasted 13 different soups. In the end there had to be a winner, and this year’s Souper Bowl Champion was Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant with their homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup, featured at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory.

Mariachi’s is a new restaurant in Manassas opening just over a month ago in the old City Square Café location on Battle Street. They featured two soups at this year’s event – the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup as well as a spinach and chorizo soup.

Originally, the spinach and chorizo soup wasn’t a regular menu item, but after such positive praise at the Souper Bowl, owner Antonio Escamilla added it to the restaurant’s daily menu.

“We’ve had a few different groups of people come in since the Souper Bowl, saying they learned about us and our location after attending the event,” Escamilla said. Mariachi’s is owned by Escamilla, Rafael Martinez, and Primo Castlan who says their goal was to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and traditions to downtown Manassas – “it’s the food your grandmother would make” said Escamilla.

Every Friday and Saturday night a live mariachi band performs in the restaurant but on this First Friday they traveled to both Calico Jack’s and the Center for the Arts to supply an added ambience as attendees sampled the soups from both locations.

Head chef L. Fernando Babadilla says the key to the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup is his homemade tortilla recipe that he has had perfected for nearly five years. Chef Fernando’s secret to the spinach and chorizo soup – homemade chorizo. The chorizo mixed with the creaminess of the spinach makes for a soup packed with flavors everyone can enjoy.

This year’s Souper Bowl saw nearly a 20 percent increase in attendance with many already talking of their excitement for next year’s event.

It was a great kickoff for this year’s series of First Fridays, the next of which is Friday, March 4. Don’t forget to mark your calendars and come out to enjoy a fun evening in historic downtown Manassas! For a comprehensive list of events going on in Manassas this year, go to www.visitmanassas.org.

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Go green and refill your Manassas Olive Oil bottles

Did you know you can return and refill your old olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles for a discount, and go green at the same time?

Manassas Olive Oil customers can now return and recycle their used oil bottles.

“The glass bottles we give you, you can refill them as long as they’re brought back clean and dry and refilling them gives you a 10% discount,” said Manassas Olive Oil General Manager Cameron Thompson.

Manassas Olive Oil says recycling old bottles is better for the environment because it keeps empties out of landfills and off sides of the road. (more…)

City of Manassas companies receive ‘Excellence in Business’ nominations

This post is written by the City of Manassas as part of a paid content partnership between the City and Potomac Local to showcase businesses and economic development.

EXCELLENCE — most commonly defined as a talent or characteristic which is unusually high quality and which exceeds the average. It is often invoked, repeatedly strived for, but rarely achieved. 

On Feb. 25, 2016 two dozen Manassas City businesses will vie for this coveted designation during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards dinner.  The awards recognize excellence in business, including categories for innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.    

Nominees include tech firms, fine dining restaurants, and government contractors from both the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park as well as from Prince William County.  They are small businesses, large employers and everything in between.    

Some have just recently opened their doors –like CJ Finz, while others have been around for more than 20 years, as is the case with Carmello’s and Little Portugal.  Both are located in Historic Downtown and both are nominated for “Outstanding Customer Service.”  (more…)

Celebrate Black History Month with Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division

Prince William County has a unique and extensive African American history that is preserved and interpreted through its surviving buildings. 

Throughout the county’s history, many enslaved African Americans worked at plantations throughout the county including Rippon Lodge and Ben Lomond. 

At Brentsville, both enslaved and free African Americans were placed on trial where they were not able to testify against their white neighbors because they were considered second class citizens. 

At Lucasville and the Barnes House, free African Americans after the Civil War built homes and communities to establish a life for themselves as free citizens, where they began to challenge racism and segregation.  (more…)

News
Valentine’s Day Events: Chocolate walk and couples art class

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Valentine’s Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to spice up a regular date night.

Our area lot to offer to make your Valentine’s Day weekend a success. From special restaurant deals, couples painting sessions, and chocolate tasting.

Historic Occoquan Chocolate Walk, Saturday, Feb. 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The third annual Chocolate Walk is taking place this Saturday in Occoquan. While strolling through the historic district of Occoquan you’ll be given the opportunity to sample chocolate goodies.

Over 40 shops and restaurants will be participating in the annual Chocolate Walk. You’ll be given the opportunity to register for a chance to win a prize, no purchase is needed to enter. This event is sponsored by the Business Guild of Occoquan. (more…)

Have Your Next Group Event at Manassas Olive Oil

This is a sponsored column written by Potomac Local for Manassas Olive Oil

The Manassas Olive Oil Company was founded on the notion that great olive oil should be shared with others.

Alex and his daughter Amanda, both military veterans, opened their shop on Grant Avenue in Manassas to share their passion for fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegar with their friends in thier sunlit tasting gallery.

A tasting is now an event that you can share with your friends and family. Manassas Olive Oil is available for bachelor parties, after-hour night time events, and culinary shows.

Becuase of Manassas Olive Oil, more people in and around Manassas are having fun while tasting delicious oils and vinegar. Recently, Manassas Olive Oil shared partnered with Love, Charley for a First Friday event featuring free tastings, raffles, and coupons. (more…)

Dumfries will cleanup Quantico Creek

This post was submitted and paid for by the Town of Dumfries to inform residents about community events. 

The Town of Dumfries has planned to participate in two events this April focused on fostering environmental awareness and sustainability.

Please join us as we strive to improve water quality and promote storm water management practices through our Quantico Creek Cleanup and the Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival.

28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

On April 16, the Town will participate in the 28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Through this annual cleanup, participants from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC gather at various sites to cleanup portions of the Potomac River Watershed.

Last year, almost 24,000 volunteers joined together to support the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. The Town eagerly awaits the opportunity to once again participate in this event by engaging residents to cleanup Quantico Creek, a tributary to the Potomac. Volunteers will meet at the Simpson Community Center located at 17755 Main St. Dumfries, VA 22026 at 8:30 am on the day of the event.

Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival

Join the Town on April 23 at the 2016 Keep Prince William Beautiful Festival. This festival is sponsored by a local environmental non-profit, Keep Prince William Beautiful, in partnership with the Potomac Nationals. Admission to the event is free and will feature community businesses and vendors, educational showcases on recycling, litter awareness, beautification and water preservation, music from local artists, food trucks and more!

The Town will have a booth displaying brochures about storm water management initiatives and actions residents can take to help improve local water quality. The festival will be held at G Richard Pfitzner Stadium located at 7 County Complex Ct. Woodbridge, VA 22192 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, please visit our website at www.dumfriesva.gov or contact the MS4 Coordinator, Shaina Schaffer, at sschaffer@dumfriesva.gov.

Business is booming in Manassas

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Historic Heart. Modern Beat.   These four words simply yet masterfully describe the City of Manassas.  In case you missed it, this is the City’s new tagline, and it’s pretty spot-on.      

Manassas is a city steeped in rich history and tradition and takes great pride in the pivotal role it played in our country’s defining war. 

Manassas is also transforming. 

It is attracting a creative class of entrepreneurs that are changing the face of our City.  They are authentic, eclectic, driven; and they are breathing new life into Manassas, most notably in Historic Downtown.  (more…)

Programs & events coming up at Manassas Park Community Center in 2016

“Shaping the Future” is a sponsored column written by Manassas Park Community Center Marketing Manager Jason Shriner. The column highlights the many ways you can have fun, get fit, and improve your life.

With the New Year in full swing, we’ve been very busy getting ready for spring and summer programming! There are some important changes we’d like to share with you and we’d like to reveal a tiny bit of programming so you know what to expect in the coming year.

MOSAIC increased to 4 times per year

In response to customer feedback we’re switching things up with our program catalog, the MOSAIC. The MOSAIC will be coming out four times a year instead of two times a year.

This opens up more programming opportunities for our patrons as this gives us greater flexibility in creating new programs and finding instructors. In addition, many parents expressed that planning for summer camps in February (the typical release date for the spring/summer MOSAIC) was difficult.

We hope that by releasing the summer MOSAIC later in the year our loyal customers will find it easier to plan their summer vacations. The spring MOSAIC is scheduled to come out February 13th. The summer MOSAIC is scheduled to come out in April. (more…)

Beat winter blues with lecture series at Old Courthouse

In the winter of 2004-05, the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division was in a programming quandary.

There were very few programs offered during the months of January, February, and March and there was, at least, one venue, the Old Manassas Courthouse that was underutilized during those months.

An idea was raised to offer during these months a series of lectures on Thursday evenings that would be free to the public in the upstairs Ball Room of the old courthouse located at 9248 Lee Avenue in Manassas and the Winter Lecture Series was born.

The lectures featured topics that in some way tied to the county. Today the Historic Preservation Division will offer the 12th annual series which is now called the History Lecture Series because in has been extended into April. Topics have ranged from prominent people to historic events that shaped the history of the county, to world events that county citizens might have participated in.

This year is no different. (more…)

Local beans, great atmosphere key to Manassas coffee shop success

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

groundscentralstationPssst, slow down. Take a moment and smell the coffee… or the tea or even the great breakfast sandwiches made by Matt Brower and his team at Grounds Central Station in Downtown Manassas.

Go there for the coffee, go back again and again for the great people and experiences.

I originally found GCS in March 2015 while in Manassas on business. I had time between meetings and wanted a great cup of coffee and an equally good experience. Not being too familiar with Manassas I turned to Yelp for guidance and boom – I found GCS (with a 4.5 star Yelp rating to boot).

Over the past year, I have been back to GCS, oh, a couple of times! I have gotten to know Matt and his merry band of baristas pretty well.

One thing Matt serves – above and beyond a great Americano – is “community.” (more…)

Leela Nowka paintings on display at Manassas City Hall

Leela Nowka

Paintings from artist Leela Nowka, impressionistic painter from India, are on display in The Hall at City Hall.

Born in Niarobi, Kenya, Nowka graduated college in India from the Isabella Thoburn Women’s College. She had a long a career in the Indian Diplomatic Service and is currently retired and living in the City of Manassas.

Nowka studied art under impressionist painter Sylva Monteleon and realist painter Acharya Charles Pather. In 2008 she oversaw the “Object D’Art Cell” in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. The group provided art to dignitaries and Indian Embassies. (more…)

News
Prince William Fire Department turns 50

A new logo will be used to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department.

The department unveiled the new logo in a press release on Thursday. The words “Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue 50 Years, 1966 – 2016” are featured against a bright red background.

The department was the first on the east coast to introduce a 911 system in 1967, according to a press release. Over the years, the department grew and added specialty units and programs like swift water rescue, river boat rescue, HAZMAT, technical rescue for structural collapse, trench rescue, community safety, and the office of the Fire Marshal, which investigates arson. (more…)

Find people you know, trust who have your success in mind

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Building a Business is a Team Effort — With a Little Help From Our Friends

My first lesson in the value of mentors came early – and hard. On July 3rd, 1985, I was enduring the first grueling week (called “Ground Week”) of the U.S. Army Airborne School. My Student ID – printed boldly across my helmet – was 141 (yes, 30 years later I remember my Student Number).

No matter the reason, I was a “NO GO” and did not qualify to advance to the second week (Tower Week) of training. The choice was mine – give up or repeat Ground Week.

Ugh! I wanted to quit, to give up, go back home and drink some beer with my friends and work so I could actually afford my next year of college expenses. Worse yet, if I decided to repeat Ground Week my Student ID label on my helmet would become 141”G” and everyone would know that I was “recycled.”

One of my Airborne Drill Instructors (we called them “Black Hats” ( I’ll leave you to guess why) came over and said to me) “Cadet, I know you are thinking about quitting. Heck I would be thinking it too if I were you.”  (more…)

News
Boat burns at Occoquan dock

A large boat burned in Occoquan on Sunday. 

Here’s a press release from OWL Volunteer Fire and Rescue

Fire and Rescue Units from OWL responded to a reported boat fire on the Occoquan River near Poplar Ln in Occoquan around 1230 PM on Sunday.

First arriving units reported a 36-foot cabin cruiser, attached to a dock, fully engulfed in fire.

The first arriving engine made an aggressive fire attack from the dock while the fireboat was en-route and transitioning through a lengthy no-wake zone on the Occoquan River.

Through the coordinated use of attack lines from the engine, high volume water from the fireboat and de-watering tactics, the fire was extinguished and the burned vessel was kept afloat, reducing the release of pollutants into the river. Marina personnel towed the vessel to their facilities where they were able to lift it from the water and completely mitigating the incident.

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