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Heat wave takes aim at region

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

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

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

News
Dale City neighborhood gets storm drain labels

DALE CITY, Va. — The Prince William Clean Community Council, a local nonprofit organization in Woodbridge, led volunteers for “Week of Hope,” a volunteer effort to label more than 80 storm drains in Dale City’s Lindendale neighborhood.

Volunteers started during the early morning hours of June 24th and walked each street, labeling every storm drain in their path as part of a national effort to raise awareness about pollution in storm drains. (more…)

News
Across Town: Get free Chick-fil-A on Friday

 

Incoming Stafford Rotary President Mike Vrabel accepts awards during a ceremony held June 26. (Submitted photo)

A look at neighborhood and business notes from the Potomac communities.

Stafford Rotary racks up awards

The Garrisonville – North Stafford Rotary Club racked up recently at an awards banquet last month. The club was honored with the Significant Achievement Award at the Rotary Club 7610 awards June 26. The award is given each year to only one club in the district, according to a press release.

The club was also awarded with a Rotary Presidential and Governor’s citations, the press release stated.

More than 20 Rotary Club members were also recognized for their work.

Rotary International, whose motto is “service above self,” has more than 1.2 million members in more than 33,000 clubs in 200 countries, according to the organization. (more…)

News
House fire, sinking boat keep fire crews busy

UPDATE: The two boaters that were inside a boat that was taking on water on the Potomac River on Saturday afternoon made it to shore before rescue crews arrived, said Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Chief Jim McAllister.

Initial reports indicated the boat was sinking in the area of Quantico Creek and that the two had to be rescued from the boat.

No one was injured. (more…)

News
Fire officials warn of illegal fireworks danger

Elliott Winstel and Amanda Howland shop for fireworks in North Stafford. (Photo:Mary Davidson)

Amanda Howland and Elliott Winstel visited a roadside fireworks stand in Stafford County late last month. They asked the stand attendant, who set up shop at the corner of Va. 610 and Shelton Shop Road in North Stafford, if they had mortars.

Mortars, often used by professional pyrotechnic companies hired to produce large fireworks displays, are illegal in Virginia.

And that’s what the shop keeper told them, so they settled on buying a less powerful collection of fireworks which the shop keeper had in stock.

Fire chiefs across the region last week said the best way to see fireworks is to attend a professional display.

But if you plan on using illegal fireworks, officials say they will take your fireworks, write you a summons or both. (more…)

News
Bus fares to rise next week

Get ready to shell out more change to ride buses in Prince William County.

Starting July 6, fares on all Potomac and Rappahannock Transportataion Commission buses will go up, meaning that bus riders will pay more to get to work or to ride around town. (more…)

News
Dale City’s annual parade is tomorrow

A sign is posted on Dale Boulevard warning drivers that the annual Dale City Fourth of July Parade will take place Saturday.

It’s parade time in Dale City again, bringing with it the largest Independence Day event in Virginia.

For Prince William County Board Supervisor John D. Jenkins, this will be his 42nd year participating in the annual Fourth of July tradition.

“Obviously this is the biggest Fourth of July event that we have in the state. When I left this morning, we already had 135 units that had already signed up,” said Jenkins, who represents Dale City on the county board.

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. tomorrow, staring at the Boys and Girls Club on Dale Boulevard. The three-mile parade route takes marchers and floats down Dale Boulevard, eventually to the grand viewing area in front of the Comcast building. (more…)

News
Fairfax sex assault now linked to Harrington case

Morgan Harrington, 20, disappeared last fall at a concert in Charlottesville. Her remains were found on a farm outside the city in January.

There appears to a new lead in the case of slain Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.

State and local investigators say forensic evidence has linked her case to that of a woman who was abducted and raped in the City of Fairfax in 2005.

Harrington is the 20-year-old Roanoke woman who disappeared outside of a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville last October.

After a police search, her skeletal remains were found in an Albemarle County farm outside the city in January. (more…)

News
Missing Alzheimer’s patient found

Sehyuk Kwon, 68, was found Wednesday in Fairfax County after a police search.

UPDATE: A man who walked away from his home and prompted a massive police search was found in Fairfax County.

Sehyuk Kwon, 68, of the 2000 block of Germander Way in Lake Ridge, told his family he was going for a walk. He left his home at 2 p.m. Wednesday and when he didn’t return, his family called police.

Kwon suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and speaks very little English, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

With that in mind, officials asked for help by way of a Fairfax police helicopter, which hovered in the skies of Woodbridge searching for the man late Wednesday afternoon.

At 7 p.m., police found Kwon alive and well in the area of Va. 123 and Hampton Road, a full five miles from his home.

Police said he walked there, crossing the Occoquan River bridge, walking along a busy commuter route.

Traffic
Traffic and transit changes coming this weekend

Photo: Mary Davidson

Commuters use a busy Interstate 95 near Woodbridge on a weekday morning. Photo: Mary Davidson

UPDATE: Virginia officials will lift restrictions on the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-95 and 395, between Dumfries and the Pentagon, on Monday.

Independence Day weekend will bring changes to commute patterns in our area.

Highways

On Interstates 95 and 395, the High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes will be open to southbound traffic from noon Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday.

The lanes will then be reversed for northbound traffic at 4 p.m. Saturday until 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

After a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, the HOV lanes will again be reversed at 9 p.m. (more…)

News
Firefighter honored in Dale City

Assistant Chief Carl Persing’s flag-draped casket was carried to the memorial chapel on the back of a 1973 fire truck, the first truck the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department owned.

A life-long firefighter was honored today at in Dale City.

Carl Persing, who died last week at age 53 from complications from colon cancer, was honored by hundreds of fire and rescue professionals at the C.D. Hylton Memorial Chapel.

Working with the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department since 2001, Persing first became a volunteer firefighter while he was a junior in high school. (more…)

Traffic
Frustrated official: No money for U.S. 1 improvements

Questions are mounting about the widening of U.S. 1 between Stafford and Prince William counties. And they’re coming before an influx of federal workers is expected to relocate to Quantico Marine Corps Base in 2011.

The road is currently being widened from four to six lanes in Triangle, between Joplin and Brady’s Hill roads, as part of the planned Triangle Village near the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Improvements to the small stretch of road are being paid for by Prince William County taxpayers.

But it seems there won’t be any federal help when it comes to additional road improvements for the BRAC relocation to Quantico. (more…)

News
Update: Missing woman found near home

UPDATED AT 10 A.M.: A woman who was missing from Fairfax County was found this morning near her home.

After search and rescue teams mounted a search this morning near the woman’ s home in the 2600 block of Arlington Drive, just six miles north of Ft. Belvoir, they found her at the end of her street, according to Fairfax police.

Police were concerned because the woman has a medical condition and had not been seen since Sunday afternoon. (more…)

News
Video: K9s steal the show at police expo

Renee Shelly lives in Stafford and is married to a Prince William County Police officer.

She knows her husband’s job working on immigration cases is a tough one, but community celebrations like the one Saturday in Woodbridge honoring the department’s 40th anniversary makes her entire family feel appreciated, she said.

“There is a lot of good support from the community out here and within this organization. Police officers take care of their own too, so we are glad to know we all have the support we need,” said Shelley.

In addition to taking care of their own, Prince William police have been taking care of the community since they began patrolling the streets on July 1, 1970.

This weekend, hundreds turned out for a birthday celebration where the community came to learn about the SWAT team, scuba team, forensics, crash investigations, and mounted, marine and K9 patrols.

The free event was so large it attracted visitors from other states.

“You don’t realize how many people protect you. There’s so much involved in all of the different areas of police work. My nephew has been waiting days to come see this,” said Liz Aleo from New Jersey.

And while it was police officers who were all smiles and shaking hands with visitors, the robot that does the job these officers can’t was also on hand.

Jason Kohl, a 14-year veteran with the department, spent the afternoon operating the remote control robot used by the SWAT team. It along with the artillery they use drew many visitors to their table.

“The turnout has been really nice. The SWAT team does a lot of demos, we do a lot of shows to show people the equipment that we have… certainly it nice opportunity to meet the public and show them what we do,” said Kohl.

Traffic
VRE offers free rides after massive delays

Fredericksburg line train 309, coming from Fredericksburg to Washington’s Union Station, was late making it back to pickup passengers for its 5:15 p.m. departure from the Washington rail hub.

After completing it’s midday run as train 301, which left Union Station at 12:55 p.m., the train encountered problems on its return trip south of Franconia, said VRE spokeswoman April Maguigad.

When it reached Union Station, passengers boarded, but the train and left about an hour late. (more…)

News
Video: Dale City fire chief remembered

When members of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department died, Chico Marrero worked with Assistant Chief Carl Persing to make plaques and memorials for their fellow fallen fire fighters and EMTs.

This week, Persing died from complications from colon cancer. He battled the disease three times in the past five years.

“I told him that ‘I never wanted to work on one of these for you.’ It looks like I had to make one anyway,” said Marrero, an 11-year volunteer with the department. With the help of volunteers, Marrero made a large poster in memory of Persing, with photos depicting him at work doing the job he loved.

It was placed under glass and presented at a remembrance gathering held for Persing  Wednesday night at  Dale City Fire Station 13.

Persing had volunteered with the Dale City department since 2001, joining the organization after taking medical leave from the City of Manassas Fire and Rescue Department where he worked for 23 years. He officially retired from Manassas in 2007, but wanted to remain active in the fire service.

“He was a great firefighter, he was a great leader, a great teacher and a good mentor to people. And he cared about his people, and unfortunately at times he didn’t worry about himself, but worried about other people,” said DCVFD Chief Christopher Hool.

Wednesday night’s memorial gathering drew about 100 people. Many who attended remembered Persing for the experience that he brought the job.

During his life, he volunteered with fire stations in Fairfax County, Ft. Belvoir, Woodbridge, the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority and the U.S. Army.

He leaves behind two children, a mother and father, a brother and sister and a family of fire fighting professionals who will miss him.

A viewing for Persing will be held Tuesday June 29 at Dale City Fire Station 13, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

His funeral, with full honors, will be held the following day at 11 a.m., at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Thursday June 24, 2010.

News
As police department turns 40, top cop comments

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane to celebrate department's 40th anniversary.

The Prince William County Police Department will turn 40 next month and they want you to come and celebrate with them.

The party starts at 11 a.m. Saturday on the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza, behind the McCoart Building off Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge. All of the usual outdoor family fun activities are planned, like a dunk tank, face painting, moon bounce and an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog.

But those who are curious about how police officers do their jobs and those who want to know more about the tools they use will get a behind the scenes look. Scheduled to be on display is the major crimes and incident command unit, Command One, the SWAT team, scuba team, forensic unit, mounted patrol and Marine One – Prince William County’s watercraft patrol unit – just to name a few, according to the county police Web site.

Police equipment, old and new, will also be on display. And so will a chronology of major events in Prince William County’s history. They’ll also have a vintage county police cruiser on display.

The police department formed in July 1970, taking over major policing operations from the Prince William County Sheriff’s Department, said police chief Charlie T. Deane. He was promoted to chief in 1988 but was recruited to the force from the Virginia State Police the same year the department began, when the county’s population was just over 100,000 people.

“We were all very excited about embarking on a new segment of our careers and establishing a new department,” said Deane. “Back then we were all generalists. We had K9s and the motorcycles, but over time, because of the demand for the services we developed more specialization.”

Now nearly 400,000 people live in the county and the department in recent years has seen its fair share of tough cases, including the Lexie Glover case in 2009, the Smith murders in Dale City in 2008 and the Bobbit case in 1993, when at 26, Lorena Bobbit used a knife to sever her husband’s penis.

She was later found not guilty by reason of insanity. Her husband, John Wayne Bobbit, went on to star in a pornographic film after having the organ reattached.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Wednesday June 23, 2010.

News
Fire chief dies from colon cancer

Assistant Chief Carl Persing, with Dale City's volunteer fire department, died from colon caner.

The Dale City Volunteer Fire Department lost a long-time member to colon cancer.

Assistant Chief Carl Persing died this week after fighting three bouts of colon cancer during the past five years. He was 53-years-old when he died, said DCVFD spokesman Steve Chappell.

Black cloths have been draped over Dale City’s four firehouses and Persing’s chief’s vehicle, said Chappell.

The department draped similar black cloth over their stations in 2008, after Dale City EMT Cecilia Turnbough died during a training exercise at the Prince William County Public Safety Center.

Funeral Arrangements for Persing are still being worked out.

He leaves behind two children, his parents, brother, sister and the fire department family, said Chappell.

Persing retired from the Manassas City Fire and Rescue Department in 2007. He joined DCVFD as a volunteer in 2001.

During his life, he also served with the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire Department and the U.S. Army.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Tuesday June 22, 2010.

News
Push to collect cell phones for soldiers pays off

More soldiers serving abroad will be able to speak with their families thanks to the generosity of area residents.

During the past six months, Belvoir Credit Union collected 322 cell phones at their more than 10 branches. And with each cell phone donation, the credit union has donated one dollar to the Cell Phones for Soldiers charity.

The charity turns the donated phones into calling cards that are sent to soldiers, said Belvoir Credit Union spokeswoman Amy Shanks.

Since two Massachusetts teenagers formed the charity in 2008, Cell Phones for Soldiers has been working to collect 50,000 old cell phones per month at more than 3,000 collection sites, according to the charity’s Web site.

You can donate your old cell phones at Belvoir’s Woodbridge location, at 14040 Central Loop, just off Prince William Parkway.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Tuesday June 22, 2010.

News
Woodbridge fighter to get second chance

Kris McCray, the 28-year-old mixed martial arts championship fighter who appeared Saturday on cable television in an Ultimate Fighting Championship match, hails from Woodbridge.

At the match in Las Vegas, he was competing for a contract that comes with a six-figure salary to become a full-time UFC fighter. But he came up short when he lost to his opponent, Court McGee.

His friend and trainer for the past 10 years, Elijah Harshbarger, says he’ll get another chance to step into the ring.

“We talked to the UFC guys and they should be calling us in the next few weeks, so we’ll be there to pick up the phone when it rings,” said Harshbarger.

He didn’t say when or where the match could take place, but did say McCray cannot participate in any other fighting events as long as he is involved with UFC.

Harshbarger was in McCray’s corner during Saturday’s fight and said McCray was prepared for the match, but McGee had an overall better game plan from the start of the bout.

McCray congratulated McGee on his win Saturday during the show’s live season finale.

McCray and Harshbarger met as wrestlers in high school. Harshbarger graduated from Gar-Field High School and McCray from Woodbridge Senior High School.

Both went on to coach for their respective schools and that’s when McCray decided he wanted to be a professional fighter, said Harshbarger.

Three years ago, Harshbarger opened Gold Medal Grappling, a gym in Woodbridge where McCray trains at least two days a week.

He says McCray gets a lot of support from his hometown.

“We have fans from everywhere and when go out to clubs and hang out we don’t have to stand in line, we shake hands and take a lot of pictures,” said Harshbarger.

UFC fighters use a mix of kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, judo, karate and boxing when they’re in the ring. The events are televised on Spike TV.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Monday June 21, 2010.

News
Drowning victim identified

Police identified the man who fell into the Occoquan River and drowned last week.

Gregory James Gilker, 52, of Occoquan fell into the water while docking his sailboat at the Belmont Bay marina in Woodbridge on Thursday night.

A preliminary investigation revealed that  the man became stuck underneath the boat after falling into the river, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Residents were able to get him onto the dock and fire and rescue personnel preformed CPR, but the man could not be saved and drowned, said Perok.

An autopsy confirmed drowning as the cause of death, he added.

*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Tuesday June 22, 2010.

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