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Around Town

A Historic Lorton Church Almost Fell Victim to Brush Fires
Woodbridge wasn’t the only place on Saturday to be affected by massive brush fires. An historic church in Lorton was set ablaze after someone threw a cigarette on the ground, someone writes Lorton Patch.

North Stafford’s Native Son Now in Colorado
John Maine, a North Stafford High School graduate and a native son to the county who’s spent the past five years pitching with the New York Mets has signed with the Colorado Rockies. He stands to make up to $3 million as part of the deal, in addition to the $3.3 million he made with the Mets, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Lingamfelter Rants on Illegal Immigration
Del. Scott Lingamfelter posted a video on his Facebook page of a speech in which he made at Virginia’s General Assembly in Richmond, stating the U.S. is losing a battle to protect its borders from illegal immigrants. The delegate who represents Woodbridge went on to say since January 2007 there have been 30,000 to 35,000 death attributed to drug cartels and gangs. His comments follow the deaths of three people in Manassas. Police have charged an illegal immigrant in the case.

News
Video: Shooting Victim Remembered

Children who’ve attend school with Alice Everette's three children came to remember her Sunday night. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Alice Everette was remembered Sunday night at the same place she was killed.

Nearly 100 mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge to remember a woman whom friends called a kind and loving mother.

“I strive to be the type of mother she was, and you can see how she loved and cared for her kids,” said Tammy Melvin. “On that day we lost our friend, and those girls lost their mother. But I think Heaven gained an angel because I know that’s where she went.”

Everette was shot to death Thursday while inside her car.

Many said it was a part of her morning routine to frequent the fast food establishment, and said her estranged husband knew it.

He, 52-year-old Daniel Everett, is charged with murder in her death and was held without bond, said a Prince William police spokesman.

Many who came to remember Everette were parents and children from the same private school in Woodbridge in which her three daughters, ages 4, 8 and 12, have all been enrolled. The oldest daughter just left the school for a new Catholic school, family friends say.

The children spoke of how nice Everette was to them and how much they enjoyed plying with her daughters.

Adults with tissues in hand said it will be her children that will suffer the most in this traffic loss.

“Her three beautiful children – I pray for them. She was such a sweet lady. Why did this have to happen?” asked Lisa Xnantus

Residents in Everette’s Dumfries neighborhood said she and her husband were having marital problems. According to police, Daniel Everette was not living with the victim but rather at an address in Fairfax County.

News
Alehouse Pinned Hopes on Garden Hoses

Woodbridge, Va. –– A little over a week after opening their doors, the employees of a Woodbridge restaurant were fighting to keep it from burning to the ground.

A brush fire broke out behind the Bungalow Ale House on Prince William Parkway about 2 p.m. Saturday. With high winds in the area, some embers from the fire blew onto the mulch and sparked flames at the newly opened lounge.

That sent employees of the store scrambling to get garden hoses to douse the flames, and then to spray the building to try to keep it from catching fire.

The fire behind the restaurant raged so hot that several propane tanks at a nearby homeless camp exploded.

By 6 p.m., police officers blocked off the entrance to the restaurant and surrounding shopping plaza.

Customers and employees were told they didn’t have to go home but they couldn’t stay here.

“The police came and told us they were ordering a voluntary evacuation of the area, and when the blocked off the entrance no one was able to get to us and we closed early for the night,” said Bungalow Ale House General Manager Mike Holcomb.

No one was injured and the building suffered no damage, but there’s is just one more story of how residents of the Potomac Communities on Feb. 19 coped with the sight, smell and threat of burning brush so close to where they live and work.

The fire behind the restaurant was extinguished at 10 p.m. Saturday.

The Alehouse February 9 and filled the spot where a Don Pablos Mexican restaurant used to be.

“These are just a few hiccups during our opening time, but we’ll get through them,” said Halcomb.

News
Homeless Man Charged in Fire

A brush fire raged on I-95 in Prince William County on Saturday. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Prince William County, Va. –– Fire officials in Prince William County say it was their busiest day in more than 30 years.

Massive brush fires spread across the county Saturday as wind gust of more than 50 mph prevailed across the region.

One man faces charges in a fire that broke out in Dale City: A 29-year-old homeless man is charged with carelessly spreading fire in the brush fire that prompted the temporary closure of a portion of Interstate 95.

Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin J. McGee

The unidentified man lives in a homeless encampment behind a K-Mart store in Dale City. Sources say the man dropped a lit cigar onto the ground that ignited the dry brush.

There were a total of six brush fries in Prince William on Saturday that scorched 300 acres of land.

In the Occoquan Forest neighborhood near Manassas, a brush fire destroyed one home and damaged at least two others after a tree fell onto a power line.

At least 60 residents from the neighborhood were evacuated to a nearby fire station while more than 50 fire and rescue units worked to battle the blaze.

“This was the busiest day I have experienced in my 31-year career with Prince William County,” said Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee. “We had the support of so many people on this from Chief Hickerson of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department recalling off-duty volunteers and available fire and rescue units to Prince William County Police working traffic issues and road closures. We also had support from our colleagues in Fairfax County, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria. I am especially proud of all the men and women who were able to bring these fires under control with no loss of life and minimal structural damage.”

A large amount of water was used to battle the blaze, and that forced water pressure in the area to drop.

Residents who were allowed to return home have been ordered boil their water and then to let it cool before consuming it until further notice.

Back in Woodbridge, another fire that sent rescue crews scrambling after propane tanks began exploding – near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Smoketown Road.

Fire crews said a homeless encampment behind the shopping plaza was left in shambles after a brush fire ravaged 25 acres of land there.

News
Stafford Battles Brush Fires

A brush fire raged on I-95 in Prince William County on Saturday. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford County, Va. –– More than 200 acres of land became victim to a brush fire in Stafford County on Saturday.

A major fire scorched the earth in the area of Queen Anne Drive, near the Fauquier County line.

Crews spent much of the day battling that blaze as well as several others across the county.

Firefighters were also called to a brush fire behind the Stafford Hospital Center on U.S. 1.

Four acres of land became victim to that fire.

No injuries have been reported in Stafford as fire and rescue crews there responded to 69 incidents, said Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Mark Doyle.

High winds across the region fanned massive brush fires that broke in other places, like Dale City, Woodbridge, Manassas and in Maryland.

The National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington also fell victim to the winds.

The tree was planted in 1923 and for nearly 80 years has served as the backdrop for the president’s tree lighting ceremony each December, according to the National Park Service.

News
Video: Limb Traps Man in Truck

Fairfax County, Va. –– A tree limb fell on a pickup trapping its driver inside.

Fire and rescue crews on Saturday morning were called to the area of U.S. 1 and Collard Lane in the

Alexandria section of Fairfax County after a large tree branch fell onto a Chevrolet S-10 pickup.

While winds were gusting upward of 50 to 60 mph, rescue crews had to remove the passenger side door of the truck to extract the man.

He was pulled from the vehicle, placed on a stretcher and was then taken to a local hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, said Fairfax County Fire and Rescue spokesman James Hedrick.

The limb was so heavy it crushed the roof of the pickup as and shattered its windshield.

Hedrick said the truck was not moving when the limb struck the vehicle.

High winds prevailed across the region on Saturday, with gusts of over 50 mph in some areas.

Smoke from large brush fires filled the air later in the day, fueled by the high winds.

News
Stafford issues burn ban

Stafford County, Va. –– Stafford fire officials have banned all outside fires today because of the high winds that are prevailing through the area.

The ban follows similar ban instituted for Saturday in Prince William County.

Winds are expected to gust upward of 60 mph today and numerous brush fires have been reported in Maryland.

The high winds also toppled the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington.

The Colorado blue spruce was planted in 1923 and has served as the backdrop for the president’s annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

News
Outside fires banned

Prince William fire officials have banned anyone from burning an outside fire beginning tonight through Saturday.

High winds and dry conditions have made the area ripe for brush fires, which area fire crews this week have been called to extinguish.

The move comes the same week as officials instituted the 4 p.m. burning law, which states residents may have outside fires as long as it’s between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight.

This new order tonight and tomorrow for Prince William County residents supersedes the state’s rule. (more…)

News
2 pedestrians, school bus hit in recent crashes

Prince William County, Va. –– A series of crashes kept police in eastern Prince William County busy.

A Dodge Caravan struck the rear of a Prince William County Public Schools bus at the intersection of Dumfries Road (Va. 234) and Carrs Brooke Way at 9:52 p.m. Wednesday.

The driver of the van was flown to an area hospital, and an adult and a 15-year-old girl that were onboard the school bus were also taken to a local hospital.

The van was traveling west on Va. 234 when it struck the bus that had already stopped at a signal light at the intersection, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok. (more…)

Traffic
Virginia’s transportation projects get international attention

VDOT’s Steve Titunik addresses a delegation from India who were in town learning about the funding plan for the HOT Lanes.

Fairfax County, Va. –– The size and complexity of the Virginia Megaprojects is attracting attention from transportation experts from all over the globe to the Megaproject offices in Springfield to see how it’s done.

Of all five of the projects that are part of the Megaprojects, the I-495 HOT Lanes project  is usually up on the top of the “must see” list because it’s funded through a public-private partnership, an increasingly attractive funding mechanism. (more…)

News
Fairfax reports 911 problems

Update 7 p.m.
Fairfax officials say the county’s 911 system is working properly again.

The county’s Department of Public Safety Communications switched back to its primary 911 system at 5:45 p.m., ending a day of asking residents to call a 10-digit telephone number in the event they couldn’t reach emergency dispatchers.

Arlington County also experienced problems with its 911 service Friday, and was also able to restore their it normal. (more…)

News
2 long-serving school officials to retire

Diana Lambert-Aikens

Diana Lambert-Aikens

Two associate superintendents of Prince William County Public Schools will retire at the end of this school year. In separate meetings with their principals on Feb. 15, Diana Lambert-Aikens, associate superintendent for eastern elementary schools and Alison Nourse-Miller, associate superintendent for western elementary schools, announced that they will retire on June 30.

Both have served in Prince William for 33 years. (more…)

News
Lone immigration bill survives

Del. Richard L. Anderson, R-Va. 51

Legislators’ attempt to put tougher restrictions on illegal immigrants in Virginia failed in the state Senate Wednesday – all except for one bill.

The E-Verify bill, which would require any corporation doing business with Virginia subject their employees to an electronic background check verify their employees are eligible to work in the U.S.

It has survived in a Senate some Republicans say too often block measures to curb illegal immigration in the state. Democrats often say immigration reform unfairly targets Hispanics and could lower the rate at which they report crimes to local police. (more…)

News
Search still on for suspect after school lock downs

Update 1 p.m.
Sheriff’s deputies in have yet to catch the man who eluded them this morning in North Stafford.

Authorities stopped a man this morning in the parking lot of North Stafford High School, but the man got out of the car and fled on foot.

That sent sheriff’s deputies searching for the man, and the high school and another nearby elementary school on a temporary partial lock down. (more…)

News
Around Town

Spring announces her pending arrival with sprouting Crocuses. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Buying power plant would stifle competition, org says
A new Op-Ed piece this morning in Bacon’s Rebellion states Fairfax County’s plan to purchase the waste-to-energy facility in Lorton would lead to higher prices for energy and less competition. The facility is now leased to a private firm, but with the lease about to expire officials want to purchase the plant.

Jimmy Eat World rocks Mary Washington
A melodic band with a funny name – Jimmy Eat World – played the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. And no matter how cutting edge a band in today’s time may be, there’s always someone in the crowd who yells Freebird.

Students no longer have to pat up to test
Fairfax County students will no longer have to pay a $75 fee to take advanced placement exams following a ruling by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

News
Building collapses during fire

Fire crews on Thursday evening secure the scene after battling a blaze at a used car dealership in Stafford County. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Update 9 p.m.
A fire that ripped through a used car dealership on Thursday destroyed a building and damaged several cars.

Flames broke out at Auto City at 492 Cambridge Street (U.S. 1) in Stafford County at 4:56 p.m., prompting fire and rescue crews from more than six fire stations in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, and Fredericksburg to come and help douse the blaze.

Crews battled the blaze for 45 minutes before it was extinguished. (more…)

News
Updated: Jeep accelerates, crashes

A 58-year-old man was injured after he crashed into some trees and flipped his car on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge.

Update Friday 3 p.m.
A 58-year-old man was taken to a hospital Thursday after his Jeep struck several trees and overturned.

It happened while the man was traveling north on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge.

His 2009 Jeep Wrangler accelerated and the driver swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting other cars on the road. Then the driver swerved completely off the road and into some trees that line Fox Lair Drive, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok. (more…)

News
Teachers talk schools to ESOL parents

The Prince William County Public Schools Central Registration and World Languages Center began their 2011 series of educational workshops for Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents and students.

The first workshop of the year, “Everything You Need to Know About the Schools and Recreation Programs in Prince William County,” was held Jan. 25 at the Ann Ludwig Center in Woodbridge. (more…)

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