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Occoquan Local

BerkleyNet finds the secret to attracting and keeping talent — make them feel valued

Editors note: This sponsored post is the first in a monthly series written by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Potomac Local.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — An insurance company headquartered in Prince William County encourages young professionals to write on the walls.

This is not your typical coverage provider.

Started in a warehouse in Manassas in 2006, tech firm BerkleyNet is a leader in forward-thinking business growth in Prince William County. BerkleyNet is a member company of W. R. Berkley Corporation, a Fortune 500 company.

Headquartered in Innovation Technology Park in Prince William County, their business is entirely online, a unique concept for a firm that provides workers compensation insurance.

In just 11 years they have grown from six to over 200 employees. The majority are headquartered in Prince William County, with satellite offices in places like Minneapolis, Nashville, Tenn. and Las Vegas.

John Goldwater, BerkleyNet’s former President, and CEO, has gone on to become an Executive Vice President of W. R. Berkley Corporation. Five founding employees remain on BerkleyNet’s senior leadership team.

The most unique aspect of their business growth? They hire curious problem-solvers, encourage ownership and invest in their employees. (more…)

News
Electoral Board studies pay increase for poll workers

WOODBRIDGE — Election officers in Prince William County may get raise.

The county’s Electoral Board is reviewing a plan to increase pay for its election officers who work long hours on Election Day in November, during town elections in May, June primaries, and on special elections such as this year’s Clerk of the Court vote.

Many elections officers, assistant polling place chiefs, and chiefs work the polls from opening at 6 a.m. to close at 7 p.m. Election Day. Officers are paid $125 a day, assistant chiefs $150, and poll chiefs $200.

Increasing poll worker pay would put Prince William County in line with its neighbor to the north in Fairfax County which pays poll workers $175 a day, assistant chiefs $200, and poll leaders $250 a day. (more…)

News
Virginia airplane owners get a tax break for repairs

MANASSAS — Airplane owners and repair shops will get a tax break.

Small airplane small repair shops and larger maintenance, repair, and overhaul aircraft facilities commonly referred to as MROs will get a break when they purchase parts, supplies, or engines to maintain an aircraft. Delegate Richard Anderson, an Air Force Colonel and former head of the Civil Air Patrol introduced the legislation during this year’s General Assembly.

The new law is expected to have an impact on economic development in the state and our region. Many airplane owners traditionally fly out of state to places like North Carolina for regular aircraft maintenance or repair.

“I am very proud to have worked with my partners in the General Assembly, the Virginia Aviation Business Association, and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in crafting this legislation. Virginia is home to several thousand general aviation aircraft, but has few major maintenance and repair operations,” said Anderson. (more…)

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Free admission today at the Prince William County Fair

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You can get in free this afternoon to the 68th Annual Prince William County Fair.

Everyone who comes between to 2 and 5 p.m. will get free admission to the fairgrounds as part of Free Gate Admission Day. Tickets are required once again after 5 p.m. and are sold for $10 for each adult or $6 for children or seniors.

The Power Wheels Derby will take place tonight in the grandstand. Children, ages 3 to 5 will participate in the first round at 5 p.m., and then children ages 6 to 10 will go at 5:30 p.m.

For the main event at 7 p.m. in the grandstand, yard warriors will bring their green machines for the annual garden tractor pull.

Other events in the far include No Joes Circus, the Butterfly Experience, chainsaw art, Jurassic Kingdom, the rides on the midway, and more.

Tomorrow night is ladies night at the fair. The gates open at 5 p.m. and all ladies are free. The demolition derby returns to the grandstand at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The fair is open today from 2 until 10 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., and on the final day of the fair Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m.

*Photos: Keith Walker, Prince William County Government 

News
Beer, ads, and emails: An update from Potomac Local

We’ve made some changes on our PotomacLocal.com homepage to better serve you.

This spring, we replaced the sidebar ads on the right side of the website with more site features, such as a new weather widget, our most recent sponsored posts, and a listing of the most-viewed stories on the website.

Info widgets 

We also created a new section on our homepage to feature Public Safety News in our coverage area of Prince William County, Stafford County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. As soon as the public safety agencies in our community post incident information on their social media pages, we’re grabbing it automatically and publishing it to our website.

The new weather widget shows the latest update from the National Weather Service office in Sterling, so you’ll always be able to see current conditions and the latest forecast. (more…)

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Like mom, like daughter: Both winners in Prince William fair baby contest

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MANASSAS — There’s one thing Morgan Welch did before her child won the Prince William County Fair Baby Contest.

“I got a hot husband,” said the 25-year-old Manassas woman, who, presumably, helped to make a beautiful baby.

Welch, 25, and her husband, Mike, entered their 10-month-old daughter Aliva Grace into the judging for the cutest baby age nine to 18 months contest on Saturday, August 12.

Alivia, in a blue dress with a pink bow in her hair, won the first place purple ribbon.

It’s the same ribbon Morgan Welch has behind glass hanging on her wall at home. Like mother like daughter, Morgan Welch won the Prince William County Beautiful Baby Contest when she was 18 months old in 1993.

“I thought this was so cute, I just wanted to come out and be a part of it again,” said Aliva’s mother, Morgan. (more…)



Governor McAuliffe breaks ground on I-395 Express Lanes extension

Reliable and faster travel choices coming on I-395 Corridor 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and its private partner and operator of the I-95 Express Lanes, Transurban, to break ground on the start of construction of an eight-mile extension of the I-395 Express Lanes from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. border. The project provides more options for faster and more reliable travel in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country and expands the region’s network of express lanes. The project includes a long-term investment in transit for the corridor, through a yearly payment of $15 million (to be escalated annually) that will be paid by Transurban to the Commonwealth. This annual transit payment will support transit and multimodal initiatives benefitting the corridor.

“Anyone who travels on I-395 and I-95 today can attest that this is one of the most congested corridors in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Today’s groundbreaking is the first project of the Commonwealth’s larger Atlantic Gateway Initiative which aims to unlock the I-95 Corridor. The Atlantic Gateway Initiative and the I-395 project demonstrate how we can work with our public and private partners to improve the quality of life for Virginians and our visitors – and keep our new Virginia economy growing.”

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne added, “Under Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, today’s milestone is one more step toward expanding the express lanes network in Northern Virginia, and providing travelers with much-needed travel choices to reach their destinations faster. The key benefit continues to be options, and we are ready to focus on delivering this new choice on 395.”

The I-395 Express Lanes project provides specific benefits for the thousands of commuters who work at or near the Pentagon, as well as the many carpoolers or commuter bus users transferring at the Pentagon to continue to their destination. By reconstructing the Pentagon’s South Parking area and adding new bus lanes and HOV commuter and “slug” lanes to improve traffic flow and safety for buses and carpools, the project’s benefits extend well beyond the express lanes.

Other key project features include adding a fourth regular lane on I-395 South between the Duke Street and Edsall Road Interchanges, to help relieve the congestion which occurs when I-395 shrinks from four to three lanes in this area. Additionally, the project includes rehabilitating several I-395 bridges, and building new sound walls to protect neighboring communities.

The project is anticipated to cost approximately $500 million, with a combination of private and public funds. The project is one element of the Commonwealth’s Atlantic Gateway Program, a series of major improvements to the I-95/I-395 corridor.

“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to deliver a critical missing link that will connect Express Lanes customers to new destinations along I-395 and Washington D.C.,” said Jennifer Aument, Group General Manager, North America, Transurban. “Crews will begin work right away on improvements that are going to help drivers on I-395 get home faster, while also generating funds to support new transit options. As construction begins, we encourage all travelers to stay alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and keep an eye out for workers on the road.”

Plans to extend the Express Lanes began in November 2015 with a Framework Agreement under the 95 Express Lanes Comprehensive Agreement between VDOT and Transurban. In February 2017, after meeting specific project-delivery and financial criteria, the Commonwealth approved Transurban’s proposal to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the 395 Express Lanes extension.

AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction are under contract to Transurban to design and build the extended 395 Express Lanes. The express lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019 and the other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020.

Construction of the expanded express lanes will occur largely within VDOT’s right-of-way; however, some work such as sound wall construction may require crews to access right-of-way and areas adjacent to the project corridor. Preliminary work such as geotechnical investigations and surveying began last March.

More information about the project is available at: 395expresslanes.com and virginiadot.org/395express

 

News
Woodbridge voter office future uncertain, again

WOODBRIDGE — A voter office in Woodbridge could once again be headed for the chopping block.

The Prince William County Electoral Board is prepared to be hit once more with rent fees from the Virginia DMV.

In March, the state asked for 14 years of back rent in the amount of $31,200 for a voter registration office inside the Woodbridge DMV Customer Service Center on Caton Hill Road. The office is also used as an absentee in-person voting center in the weeks leading up to November General Elections.

“We’ve been there rent-free for years,” said Prince William Electoral Board Secretary Keith Scarborough.

After the March notice, there were fears the only voter registration office on the eastern side of Prince William County would close. The closure was averted when DMV officials backed off, and county officials were told they had at least one more year to operate in the building.

“I think the call for rent was a ‘get out’ message,” said Electoral Board Chairman Robin Williams.

If it was, the election officials have few places has few places to go. The Board on Wednesday wrangled not only with finding what to do about the Woodbridge DMV site but also to find a new site to serve the western end of Prince William County in the growing Haymarket and Gainesville areas. (more…)

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Adopt Me Wednesday: Reggie is neutered and gets along great with other dogs

The Stafford County Animal Shelter as a furry friend waiting for his forever home. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

His name is Reggie. He’s about 2-3 years old! Very energetic and playful!

Gets along great with other dogs, but we aren’t sure about kitties. He is neutered and up to date on his vaccines. He was found as a stray so we aren’t sure if he is housebroken or not.

Reggie also does better with older children as he can get a little rough with little ones when he plays

You can visit the animal shelter’s website for more information, as well as see operating hours so you can visit Reggie and other animals in Stafford County.

Local lender expands free Q&A series for business owners

Local business capital advisor and direct lender One Degree Capital is expanding their successful series “Capital Over Coffee.” These informal forums are hosted at local coffee shops throughout the DC Metro area providing local business owners an opportunity to ask questions about finding and securing business loans in an informal setting without the hassle and formality of going through a loan application process just to get feedback from a lender.

“Our first Capital Over Coffee event in Falls Church, Virginia, sold out quickly,” explains Rod Loges, co-founder, and president of One Degree Capital. “As word spread we had several other business owners asking when we would be hosting an event near them. It just seemed logical to expand into other areas in the DC Metro area.”

“There is a clear need for this type of forum in our area,” says Jenn Mathis, co-founder and vice president of One Degree Capital. “Business owners don’t need yet another loan option thrown at them. What they need is help objectively evaluating the dozens of options that exist today to determine what is best for their particular business situation right now.” (more…)

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Saved Hands Foundation is preparing for School Back Pack Giveaway

· Good morning Prince William – Saved Hands Foundation is in the final week preparing for their Annual August Back to School Back Pack Giveaway! It’s as easy as picking up a few extra items this week and dropping them off starting at 12 noon on Saturday, August 12th at Potomac Library, 2201 Opitz Blvd. in Woodbridge. Please help a kid start the new school year with the basics to make them be successful. Contact Pamela at 703-895-6681 for more info.

· Merrimac Farm is looking for volunteers to help in the gardens on both Saturday, August 12th and August 26th, 9 a.m.- 12 noon. Come get your hands dirty and enjoy. Please call (703) 499-4954 for more info.

· Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has the best deal in town for all you crab lovers- come join their event at VFW Post 1503 on Minnieville Road for all you can eat crabs, flounder, wing dings, corn on the cob, potatoes, beans and much more for just $65 a ticket- wow! This event supports their scholarship and public service fund. Please check out their website at pwcacdst.org to purchase tickets.

· Habitat for Humanity in Manassas needs volunteers to help at the Restore. It’s a super fun, busy place. Please sign up on their volunteer calendar for the shift that works best for you: habitatpwc.org. (more…)

Time is running out for summer reading, but it’s not too late

Time is running out, but it’s not too late!

Explore Summer Reading 2017

With school just around the corner, it is time to dust off those thinking caps and get ready to learn. But don’t do it alone, stop by your closest Prince William Public Library branch and score some fun prizes while getting back in the groove.

In less than six visits (YES, six visits), you will have the opportunity to win some amazing food coupons, free books and be entered to win a brand-new flip laptop (for kids) or a Beats Pill by Dre® (for young adults).  Either visit pwcgov.org/summerreading or head on over to any Prince William Public Library branch to sign up. Once you have your passport (for kids) or punch card (for young adults), just tell us what you’re reading each time you visit the library and watch the stamps and punches roll in.

Don’t worry, adults, because you can participate in Explore Summer Reading, too! You don’t even have to register. Whenever you come into the library, fill out an entry form with the name of a book you’ve read. We will hold a drawing for a Target gift card at each of our eleven branches each week for all nine weeks of summer reading. (more…)



New Listing: 8510 General Way

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New listing!! 8510 General Way, Manassas Park, Va. 20111. Move-in ready three-level townhouse in excellent commuter location! Large eat-in kitchen with convenient pantry. Open and bright living room & dining room combination with sliding glass doors leading to oversized deck. Master suite with full bath and double closets. Full finished walk-out basement with den, laundry, full bath & family room overlooking brick paver patio, fenced backyard, backing to common area and playground. New roof, carpet & recent HVAC & H2O heater. Minutes to VRE,

Large eat-in kitchen with convenient pantry. Open and bright living room & dining room combination with sliding glass doors leading to oversized deck. Master suite with full bath and double closets. Full finished walk-out basement with den, laundry, full bath & family room overlooking brick paver patio, fenced backyard, backing to common area and playground. New roof, carpet & recent HVAC & H2O heater. Minutes to VRE, shopping, and restaurants.

Contact C.C. Bartholomew at 703-282-4800 or email cc@ccbartholomew.com email 



Bat Houses: Dos and Don’ts

Have you ever thought about installing a bat house? 

Bats are vital to our environment. People who install bat houses help sustain local bat populations.

They benefit bats, you, your family, local gardeners, farmers and the ecosystem. Bat populations have decreased significantly, and bat houses provide a secure habitat for bats to live.

Rest assured, it’s safe and helpful to have bats in your backyard.

Bats play an important role in keeping populations of night-flying insects in check. One bat alone can catch hundreds of insects in an hour. Bats also control species of moths and beetles that cost American farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually.

The best place to install a bat house is high up and oriented south/southeast. Make sure the bat house is a minimum of 10 to 12 feet high. Placing it even higher up, up to 20 feet, will increase chances of attracting more bats.

Ideally, the bats will receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day. Bats prefer a location that gets early sunlight and continues to get direct sunlight throughout the day.

Water should be within a quarter of a mile of the bat house. Viable water sources include, but are not limited to, creeks, small ponds, home garden ponds and possible even pools. Bat houses located near a large water source tend to be more successful.

Avoid placing the bat house on trees, as they attract predators and their foliage may block sunlight. Tree branches should be at least 20 to 25 feet away, as they are potential perches for aerial predators. A pole in the right location is a great place to put a bat house. However, do check to be sure the pole is NOT an active service pole.

Beware of attaching a bat house to your home – consider the excrement that bat colonies generate. Avoid placing bat houses above doors or windows because of this reason. Wood, brick or stone buildings work best.

Written by Beejal Ved, of the Prince William Conservation Alliance

Photo: Ann Froschauer/USFWS

News
Church members donate 7,000 pounds of food for families in need

From Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington:

“It’s the summertime, and a lot of people are on vacation, so to get this amount of food is impressive and greatly needed.”
-Vince A. Cannava
Program Director, St. Lucy Food Project

A weekend food collection for hungry children at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville has workers and volunteers thrilled at the St. Lucy Food Project, a program with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. A summer food drive at the church yielded an unprecedented 7,000 pounds in food donations for this time of year.

The food was collected after Masses on Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30, by the Knights of Columbus council at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and then transported to the St. Lucy Food Project hub in Manassas. From there, the food will be distributed to local pantries and various pantries throughout the 21 counties and 7 independent cities of the Diocese of Arlington as needed.

The food was collected after Masses on Saturday, July 29, and Sunday, July 30, by the Knights of Columbus council at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and then transported to the St. Lucy Food Project hub in Manassas. From there, the food will be distributed to local pantries and various pantries throughout the 21 counties and 7 independent cities of the Diocese of Arlington as needed. (more…)

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New members fill Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors

MANASSAS — There are some new members on the Habitat for Humanity Prince William County Board of Directors. 

From an email: 

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County recently held elections to its Board of Directors for Fiscal Year 2018.

New board members include Rob Major (L), President of Major Home Inspections, a family-owned business in Prince William County, who was elected to serve a three-year term ending in 2020. Mr. Major previously served on Habitat’s board from 2006-2012. He was also elected to serve as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for a one-year term. Chuck Rector (R), Vice President of Weber Rector Commercial Real Estate Services based in Manassas, was also elected to a three-year term and will serve as Treasurer of the Board for one year. Chuck has more than twenty-five years of experience as a commercial general contractor and developer and is well known in the business community for his service on non-profit and industry-related boards and committees.

Chuck Rector (R), Vice President of Weber Rector Commercial Real Estate Services based in Manassas, was also elected to a three-year term and will serve as Treasurer of the Board for one year. Chuck has more than twenty-five years of experience as a commercial general contractor and developer and is well known in the business community for his service on non-profit and industry-related boards and committees. (more…)


News
Adopt Me Wednesday: Patty is desperately searching for a permanent home

From the Manassas Animal Adoption Center

Patty is a beautiful, six year old girl that is desperately searching for a permanent home. She has been through a lot this past year and has been abandoned several times now. Patty is extremely sweet and affectionate but she does need to be the only pet in her new home. She is spayed, up to date on vaccines, and microchipped.

For more information on Patty, please contact the City of Manassas Animal Shelter at 703-257-2420.

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Update: Alexandria man sought on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer

From Prince William County police:

The citizen asked the suspect for identification and the name of his supervisor. The suspect then immediately went back to his vehicle and left the area. – On July 31 at 6:41 a.m., officers responded to investigate a suspicious vehicle which was reported in the area of Williamson Boulevard and Duneiden Lane in Manassas. The investigation revealed a citizen was stopped at the traffic light on Sudley Road at Williamson Boulevard, attempting to make a left turn.

A driver of a blue, 2007 Ford Crown Victoria was also stopped at the same signal in an adjacent lane next to the citizen. When the vehicles made the left turn onto Williamson Blvd, the suspect vehicle got behind the citizen’s car and activated red and blue flashing lights which were mounted in the grill and visor area. (more…)

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Occoquan’s Blue Arbor Café for sale

OCCOQUAN — One of the most talked about restaurants in Occoquan is for sale. 

From an email: 

After 15 years in business, Steve and Jeanette Power are selling the Blue Arbor Café. This quaint little café has been a part of Occoquan for decades, and as owners, we are looking for a buyer who will continue this great tradition in the Town of Occoquan by offering shopkeepers, residents, and visitors a fresh, tasty lunch in pretty little courtyard between Mill & Union Streets.

This “Taste Off the Beaten Path” needs someone who’ll love it as much as we have. We’re selling as we have family members back home in Ohio in need, and the proceeds will allow us to help those we love. As we begin our next big adventure in life, we wanted to reach out to you to see if you know of anyone who may be interested. 

Meanwhile, please stop in the café and enjoy your favorite sandwich. We’d love to see you again soon!

 

News
National Night Out activities planned in Prince William, Manassas

Prince William police tell us they will be out on Tuesday, August, 1 in the community meeting with residents. While the department has not told us about any large NNO celebrations, it did encourage neighbors to head outside and gather with each other to build a sense of community.

From Prince William police: 

The Prince William County Police Department will observe the 34th National Night Out celebration this year by encouraging County residents to lock their doors, turn on outdoor lights and spend the evening of Tuesday, August 1, outside with their neighbors as a symbol that they care about their neighborhoods. National Night Out – coordinated by the Crime Prevention Unit of the Police Department in partnership with the Prince William Crime Prevention Council – creates healthy neighborhoods block by block, to help neighbors know one another, to celebrate community, and to take steps to make neighborhoods safer for all residents. Additionally, National Night Out helps build positive relationships between the community and the Police Department.

Neighborhood Watch programs, and National Night Out, help to create a neighborhood network to prevent crime and enhance the quality of life in the County. Watches throughout the County will host motorcade stops and invite police officers and other law enforcement personnel for refreshments. For more information, call the Crime Prevention Unit at 703-792-7270.

From Manassas police: 

News
Occoquan the first regional arts hub in Virginia

OCCOQUAN — Occoquan is now an official arts hub.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance this month giving its blessing for the county, Occoquan Town, and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to create a special arts district.

This is a big deal because we are the first in the state to have this designation,” said Occoquan Mayor Liz Quist.

Earlier, we told you the creation of the district was a bi-partisan effort by Virginia State Senator George Barker and Delegate David Albo. The legislation allows special tax districts to be created to provide incentives in the regional arts hub.

Earning the designation is something Occoquan leaders have sought since the town developed its comprehensive plan in 2012, said Quist.

The partners in this new arts hub, to include Occoquan, the Workhouse Arts Center, and the regional park authority are developing future arts events. The details of those events will be forthcoming in a press release, Quist added.

Occoquan each year plays host to two craft fairs, while the nearby Workhouse Arts Center is a regional destination for fine and performing arts. 

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