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New Law Closes School Bus Loophole

Woodbridge, Va. –– There’s a lot of meaning in the two-letter word “at.”

A bill by Del. Richard Anderson (R-51) adds the word to an existing law passed in the 1970s that mandates drivers stop at school buses.

Without the word, some judges interpreted the law literally to where drivers must stop school buses, not stop “at” school buses.

Some drivers who failed to stop at a stopped school bus loading or unloading children were let off the hook because of the loophole, said Anderson.

The new law takes effect immediately unlike other bills signed into law which take affect July 1.

“I was pleased to patron this legislation to ensure that our children are safe on their trips to and from school.  Parents expect us to take care of their students from the time they leave home and until they return.  This bill does just that,” said Anderson in a press release.

Anderson drafted the bill and filed it with the house clerk’s office, but it was similar to another bill by Del. Scott Surovell (D-44).

Surovell’s bill was absorbed into Anderson’s bill and both freshman delegates worked together to pass the legislation.

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U.S. 1 Expansion Worries Business Owners

By Stephanie Tipple and KJ Mushung
For PotomacLocal.com

Anyone who has ever driven in the Occoquan area of Woodbridge may recall less than fond memories of massive gridlock and a sometimes tortuous daily commute. This rise in traffic issues has called for an expansion of U.S. 1 by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which has plans to raise the street level and add on-ramps in place of ordinary intersection turns.

A meeting was held March 24 to showcase the current plans for the project and allow residents to voice their concerns about the coming changes. The meeting, attended by over 100 people, started with a question and answer period, followed by a formal presentation given by those involved with the project.

John Maddox, with the engineering firm Whitman, Requardt & Associates, presented the overview. He stated that the changes were to be made in a “critical area for Prince William County” and went over what some of the alterations would look like, including the proposed detouring of Dawson Beach Road onto Express Drive and Belmont Bay Drive in order to turn left on U.S. 1 or reach Occoquan Road, which could impact the commute for the Belmont Bay community during the two phases of construction.

The estimated costs of the project are expected to be $236 million. This will cover the engineering costs, obtaining businesses and homes in the construction path for the right-of-way and the overall construction of the infrastructure, which will be comprised of widening both U.S. 1 and Va. 123, as well as a shared use path to enhance commuting and road capabilities between the area just north of Prince William Parkway, and the Occoquan River.

The plan is slated to go before the Prince William County Board of Supervisors this summer. If all goes smoothly and the design is approved, the acquisition of 20 acres of land, including the location of 41 businesses, one non-profit organization and a few homes, will begin in early 2012. But it’s the purchase of this right of way that had some people upset.

Richard “Dick” Krauss and Richard “Dick” Lynn are business partners who assert that this project could put them out of business if it goes through as planned. Krauss and Lynn own the Occoquan Harbour Marina, the building that holds Water’s Edge restaurant, the events facility Harbour View and Solis Energy Solutions in Woodbridge.

Lynn said that, while he supports Phase 1 of the project, Phase 2 would devastate his businesses because access to them would be cut off. He gave an example of why the plan is not feasible. “If a [marina] customer is bringing in his boat that’s 50 feet long and 15 and a half feet wide, how’s he supposed to make a U-turn at Route 1 and Furnace Road [to get to us]? He’s got another 35 to 40 feet of tractor in front of him and he’s 15-and-a-half feet wide. How’s he supposed to do that?”

Lynn pointed out that the next place for a customer to attempt a U-turn is further north under a bridge with a low clearance.

Ron Cole, general manager of the 991 Annapolis Way building that houses General Dynamics, expressed concern for Phase 2’s affect on Annapolis Way. He said the business owners need trouble-free access to their businesses, both for employees and for customers.

“It’s going to be inconvenient,” he said.

The General Dynamics Woodbridge Technical Center currently has approximately 120 employees, and another 100 will be moving to that location, according to Cole.

One area homeowner, Leah Kaiz, spoke about the sound impact that she said will be apparent in the area of construction. She expressed concern that the Jersey walls will “create a funnel-bouncing sound from the barriers,” that will amplify the automobile and train sounds that are present in the community.

Frank Principi, Prince William County Supervisor for the Woodbridge district, was very positive about the expansion of U.S. 1 despite the issues that may arise from construction. He said that these changes are a way to both move traffic efficiently in the community and boost investment in the area because it will create a more functional infrastructure and relieve some of the gridlock.

As for addressing public concern, Principi said, “This is what the process is all about: to get all of these concerns out on the table and work through each one by one.”

Comments from the community were encouraged and can be submitted to VDOT by April 4. Principi gave his web address, NewWoodbridge.org, as another place to go for information and communication about the plan.

To check in on progress of construction, visit VDOT’s website for updates and to make comments about the U.S. 1 expansion project.

KJ Mushung is the Newspaper Training Director and Stephanie Tipple is a columnist at NOVA Fortnightly.

News
North Stafford Principal is Tops

Tom Nichols (front) addresses NSHS faculty and students following the announcement of his selection as Stafford County Principal of the Year. (Submitted)

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus
kkotlus@potomaclocal.com

Stafford, Va. — A Stafford County High School principal has been named one of the county’s top educators.

Tom Nichols of North Stafford High School was selected by Stafford County Public Schools as their 2011 Principal of the Year and has also been honored by the Washington Post in their Distinguished Educational Leadership Awards.

According to Stafford County Schools Nichols has taught in Stafford since 1991, beginning his career as a technology teacher and founding the first modular technology foundations lab in Virginia, at Brooke Point High School, where he also served as Assistant Principal.

Nichols was appointed Principal of North Stafford in 2004.

Nichols is noted for implementing the Jostens’ Renaissance Program to recognize not only success in students, but faculty and staff as well.  A Stafford County Schools release also indicates Nichols creation of a freshman at-risk academy and a credit recovery program to ensure that students graduate on time.

Along with other Distinguished Educational Leadership Award recipients, Nichols will be recognized at a reception on April 28.

Kristina Schnack Kotlus is PotomacLocal.com’s Style and Events producer and lives with her family in Woodbridge.

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Pain at Gas Pump Continues

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Gas prices are still going up as the weekend approaches.

In North Stafford on Friday, the average price of unleaded gasoline was $3.51 per gallon.

Some of the cheapest gas in the area could be found at the Wawa on Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) and at the Verlro gas stations on Va. 610 and U.S. 1 in North Stafford, for $3.47 per gallon.

The most expensive gas in the area was at the Stafford Sunoco on Courthouse Road at $3.61 per gallon.

Last week the average price per gallon in the area was $3.48 per gallon, while six months ago the price per gallon price of gas was $2.58, according to AAA Mid Atlantic.

The price of gas goes up for drivers in Woodbridge, where the average price per gallon of gas is $3.63.

Some of the cheapest fuel can be found at Wawa at Daniel Stuart Square, at Optiz Boulevard and U.S. 1, and at 7-Eleven on Telegraph Road at Prince William Parkway, at $3.55 per gallon.

The most expensive gas in the area, at $3.87 per gallon, is at a Shell station at 15423 Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) in Woodbridge.

In Lorton, the average price per gallon of gas is $3.64, according to AAA Mid Atlantic.

The price at the pump has not only affected drivers, but transit agencies as well.

If prices rise to $4 per gallon as predicted, transit providers nationwide who are already say they are turning away passengers because of crowded buses, could see the addition of 670 million passenger trips, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

News
Cardboard Coyote Scares Geese

Prince William County is using cardboard coyotes to scare away geese.

Yes, that is a giant coyote you’re seeing when you pull into the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge. But don’t be alarmed.

It’s actually a cardboard cutout of a coyote propped up by a piece of plastic pipe sticking up from the ground.

In this coyote’s mouth is a plastic trash bag.

It’s enough to make anyone stand, stare and scratch their heads. But the coyote is there for a reason.

“It’s our eco-friendly way of keeping the geese away!  The geese won’t come down because they think it’s a coyote holding a dead bird.  We just put it up, and so far, so good!,” said Prince William County spokeswoman Nikki Brown.

This isn’t a new idea when it comes to repelling geese. At least one company has made it its business to manufacture animated cardboard cut-out dogs to chase away the aggressive birds.

According to E-How.com, some people have tried to erect a low fence around areas they don’t want geese walking into.

Others have used sirens, whistles, sprinklers, shell crackers fired from a shot gun. Of course, E-How states, check with your local law enforcement to see if that is allowed.

News
Police: Woman’s Body was in Dumpster

Woodbridge, Va. –– The body found inside of a trash dumpster in Woodbridge on Wednesday is that of a woman believed to between 20 and 40-years-old.

Police said the body was badly burned when it was discovered by fire crews called to extinguish an outside fire about 10 a.m. Wednesday, in the 1300 block of Bayside Avenue.

Police say they don’t know the woman’s race, but do say the victim weighed 120 to 140 pounds, had dark, straight hair and was possibly missing her front left tooth, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

While those are the results of the state medical examiner’s autopsy report, police still don’t know how the woman died.

They are asking anyone who may be able to identify the victim to come forward.

They’re also seeking a suspect in the case that may have suffered injuries to their face, arms, or had singed hair at the time the fire was started, said Perok.

Residents in the Bayvue neighborhood where the body was found say they witnessed nothing unusual prior to the discovery of the body.

The dumpster in which the body was found sits next to a community center where children play, say neighbors.

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See the Planned U.S. 1 Interchange Tonight

This rendering shows what drivers traveling north on U.S. 1 would see after the intersection at Va. 123 is built. (VDOT)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Residents and business owners in North Woodbridge are about to find out just how wide U.S. 1 is going to get.

State and Prince William County transportation officials will be on hand tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. to discuss a $228 million project to widen the four lane highway to six lanes, as well as construct an interchange at Gordon Boulevard (Va. 123) and U.S. 1.

Planners and elected officials have long said project is the impetus for new growth the long beleaguered section of Prince William.

The widening will take place between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River, and Gordon Boulevard (Va. 123) will be widened to six lanes between the planned interchange at U.S. 1 and Interstate 95.

The interchange will carry Va. 123 over U.S. 1 in an effort to separate the lanes of traffic, connecting Va. 123 to Belmont Bay Drive, providing better access to a Virginia Railway Express station and the Belmont Bay mixed-use neighborhood.

The interchange using elevated ramps to carry cars up to an elevated Va. 123 will eliminate signal lights at U.S. 1 and Va. 123 and at U.S. 1 and Annapolis Way just prior to the Occoquan River

The light at U.S. 1 and Occoquan Road will remain, however, new through and turn lanes would improve traffic flow, according to VDOT.

The public hearing will take place at the Botts Fire Hall at 1306 F Street in Woodbridge.

Later this summer, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will have to approve the project and construction would begin in 2014.

News
Thunder to Snow?

Prince William County, Va. –– Those lightning strikes that rolled through the Woodbridge area last night did more than leave rolling thunder and rain-soaked pavement in their wake – the knocked out the electricity to one home near Montclair.

Fire and rescue crews were called to a home at 15644 Piedmont Place off Cardinal Drive in Woodbridge.

No one was injured, but the lightning knocked out the power in the home, said Prince William fire and rescue spokesman Joseph Robertson.

With no lights, the family stayed overnight with neighbors, according to reports from the scene.

A line of storms moved through the region last night about 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

The National Weather Service posted a severe thunderstorm watch for the area, but none of the storms ever became severe.

As we look to the weekend we may go from lightning and thunder to snow.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 30s on Saturday night into Sunday morning, and with rain moving in overnight some snow could develop, forecasters say.

News
Body Found in Dumpster

Update 1:30 p.m.
The state medical examiner has confirmed a body was found inside a trash dumpster in Woodbridge on Wednesday. Police call it a suspicious death.

At 9:55 a.m., fire and rescue crews were called to the 1300 block of Bayside Avenue for a report of an outside fire. When they arrived, they doused the flames coming from a medium-sized trash and discovered what appeared to be human remains.

Two hours later, the state medical examiner confirmed the presence of burnt, human remains.

Police have not identified the body, which has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for identification.

Update 12:15 p.m.
It was a group of career firefighters this morning who discovered what was reported to be a body inside of a dumpster in Woodbridge’s Bayside neighborhood.

Fire crews were called to the 1300 block of Bayside Avenue at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday for a report of an outside fire, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Shortly thereafter, police were called to the scene, where they closed a portion of Bayside Driver to make room for a crime scene truck, more officers, and hordes of curious onlookers.

Police say they are waiting or the state medical examiner that is in route to the scene to confirm if what is inside the dumpster is a body.

Original Post 10:40 a.m.
Woodbridge, Va. —
Police say they are trying to determine if a body has been found inside of a trash dumpster in Woodbridge.

Investigators descended on the 1300 block of Bayside Avenue about 10:15 a.m. after someone called 911 to report a body had been found.

Initial reports indicate the body was badly burned, and fire crews remain on the scene here working with police.

The dumpster sits in a parking lot next to a community center on Bayside Avenue, just behind Marumsco Plaza off U.S. 1.

Stay with us for updates.

Update 12:15 p.m.
It was a group of career firefighters this morning who discovered what was reported to be a body inside of a dumpster in Woodbridge’s Bayside neighborhood.

Original Post 10:40 a.m.
Fire crews were called to the 1300 block of Bayside Avenue just after 9 a.m. Wednesday for a report of an outside fire, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Shortly thereafter, police were called to the scene, where they closed a portion of Bayside Driver to make room for a crime scene truck, more officers, and hordes of curious onlookers.

Police say they are waiting or the state medical examiner that is in route to the scene to confirm if what is inside the dumpster is a body.

News
More Area Water Clean Ups Planned

Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi volunteered to clean up a portion of Neabsco Creek in Woodbridge on Saturday. (Submitted)

Last weekend’s clean up of the Neabsco Creek was a huge success, organizers say.

At least 60 people put on gloves and got dirty cleaning up some of the trash and undesired items that washed along the shore line of the creek in Woodbridge which empties into the Potomac River.

“I joined 60 others on Saturday morning in the creek to help remove several tons of litter and debris from the watershed,” said Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi in an email.

As the weather warms up, several other clean ups are planned.

Volunteers will gather April 9 at the community center in Dumfries at 8 a.m., next to town hall on Main Street, and will focus their attention on Quantico Creek.

Gloves and trash bags will be provided, and volunteers are asked to prepare to get dirty.

“During last year’s event, we had 40 volunteers support the effort…we collected 57 bags of non-reclyclable material, 29 bags of recyclable material, about 600 pounds of loose, un-bagged trash, 14 tires and too many cigarette butts to count,” said Dumfries Assistant Town Manager Cathy Holtzlander.

Among the larger items collected during last year’s Quantico Creek clean up: A washing machine, a large drainage pipe, an engine block and an old couch.

Those will participate this year will get a free t-shirt, said Holtzlander.

Experienced paddlers on the same day are asked to consider volunteering for a clean-up of the Occoquan River.

Those interested in helping should contact Friends of the Occoquan.

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Video: Empty Commuter Lot Prompts Questions

Woodbridge, Va. –– The commuter lot at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge on Wednesday had about 10 cars parked in it.

Prince William County taxpayers are renting 370 spaces from the church at Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road for $289,000 per year.

Transportation officials made the deal last month to rent the lot after Potomac Mills mall reduced commuter parking there from 1,000 spaces to 250.

So what’s it going to take to get commuters comfortable with using the new lot?

That’s the focus of tonight’s commuter town hall meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Ferlazzo government building on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge.

“We want to have a dialogue about what Slug lines would make sense forming [at the lot]. There’s been some talk on the Slug lines website and this is just another opportunity to discuss it live, get some additional feedback from the community and just to see how things are going in the wake of the decision last month [to reduce parking at Potomac Mills mall],” said Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May.

This is the second commuter town hall meeting scheduled in the past two months.

Also expected to be at the meeting are Prince William supervisors Frank Prinicpi and John Jenkins.

According to Slug-lines.com, the reduction of commuter parking at Potomac Mills mall has caused virtually every other commuter parking lot in the area to fill up earlier than usual.

Mall representatives said the reduction was necessary as they look to expand.

A new commuter lot is planned for construction near the Horner Road lot in Woodbridge, already the state’s largest commuter lot.

Transportation officials said they plan to use $7.2 million to build a new 600-space commuter lot on the site of an old commuter bus lot next to the Horner Road lot.

News
2 Teachers Take Top Honors

Maryann O’Brien

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus
kktolus@potomaclocal.com

Two public school teachers in the Potomac Communities are taking home top honors from the Washington Post.

Maryann O’Brien, special education teacher at Forest Park High School and David Vita, music teacher at Anne E. Moncure Elementary, are among two teachers being honored this year as Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year award recipients.

The Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher award program was established by The Washington Post Company Educational foundation to recognize teachers who exemplify excellence in their profession.  According to Agnes Meyer materials, teachers selected for the award are recognized in May at a special ceremony, and are also awarded $3,000.

In Prince William County, O’Brien was selected out of a pool of 18 candidates. O’Brien earned her Masters Degree and Certificate in Alternative Education from George Mason University and worked at New Dominion Alternative Middle School from 1998-2003 before beginning her tenure at Forest Park High School, according to her profile on the Forest Park website.

Josh Miller, Supervisor of Special Education at Forest Park and Acting Assistant Principal said that “this award is very deserved.  Mrs.

David Vita

O’Brien works very hard to ensure the success of her students both in and out of the classroom.  We’re all very proud of her.”

In an interview with Prince William County Schools, O’Brien shared that over her 12-year career in teaching she has found that “finding the key to unlock learning for students who don’t respond to traditional instruction and helping them discover their untapped potential is the most exciting part of being a teacher”.

These strategies appear to be working, as O’Brien’s students have a 100 percent pass rate at the highest level of performance on the Virginia Alternative Assessment program for the last six years.

From Stafford County Public Schools, Vita was selected.

Vita teaches Music Education at Anne E. Moncure Elementary school where he has been for over five years. According to Vita’s biography at the Band of America’s Few, prior to becoming a teacher Vita attended Virginia Commonwealth University and later served honorably in the Marine Corps for several years before retiring in 2000, only to rejoin the National Guard after the 9/11 tragedy.

Principal Greg Machi, who has worked with Vita for four years, shared that Vita has grown the choir at Moncure from 60 to 130 children and hosts a percussion program that is application-only because of the high level of interest.

“Mr. Vita takes the time to really get down on the kids’ level and ensure they understand.  He also makes sure that the music he’s teaching corresponds with the classroom- he’ll use Chinese music when classes are learning about China, for example,” said Machi.

Machi considers Vita to be a “very talented individual” whose passion for music extends beyond the classroom. Vita helps with the percussion section at Mountain View as well as working with the Marine Corps Retirees Band, for whom he has written music, as well.

Machi says that Vita also hosts a variety show each year that is a huge hit with parents and children, and also wrote and taught songs for spirit week.

Kristina Schnack Kotlus is PotomacLocal.com’s Style and Events producer and lives with her family in Woodbridge.

News
High Rise Evacuated

(Submitted photo)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Residents inside of a high-rise condominium complex were evacuated Monday after an air conditioning unit began smoking.

Fire and rescue crews were called to the Belmont Bay neighborhood in Woodbridge about 10 a.m. to investigating what was causing the smoke, according to initial reports.

Residents said they were told to evacuate the building.

Crews found the source of the smoke and about an hour later allowed residents to go back inside the building.

No injuries were reported.

News
Potomac Nationals Host Open House

Jazmine, 16, auditioned to sing the National Anthem at Pfizner Stadium on Saturday. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Kristina Schnack Kotlus
kkotlus@potomaclocal.com

Woodbridge, Va. — It was a cool, windy day on Saturday but that didn’t stop Potomac Nationals fans from coming out to enjoy the P-Nats first-ever Open House.

The event on Saturday at Pftizner Stadium in Woodbridge featured several stations, including a moon bounce, Rita’s Italian Ice, a place to meet the team mascot, Uncle Slam, and even auditions for brave members of the crowd who want to sing the before each home game this upcoming season.

Children and adults alike enjoyed hitting the ball from home plate.

Director of Ticketing Operations Michelle Metzgar said the event was designed to get the community out and ready for baseball season. “We want to get the community excited about the upcoming season by spending the day at the ballpark” Metzgar said in a press release.

Katherine, 9, watches as her 6-year-old sister, Amanda, have her face painted during Family Day at Pfizner Stadium. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Assistant General Manager Carter Buschman was working the pro shop station the day of the event and said that there was a “good buzz going in the crowd today”.  Buschman also expressed high hopes for a positive season beginning with the April 8 game against the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Fans who visited all eight stations at the event were rewarded with 2 free tickets to attend a Potomac Nationals game this season.  Emma, 7, who attended the event with her parents, was less excited about the baseball than getting her face painted like a fairy, but said that she would “definitely come back again, today was fun, and I’d like to come back again, even if it’s just for baseball.”

Kristina Schnack Kotlus is PotomacLocal.com’s Style and Events producer and lives with her family in Woodbridge.

News
NVCC Woodbridge’s Largest Expansion Since 1989

Dr. Charles Errico, a professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College, provides a brief history of the campus.

Woodbridge, Va. –– More than 25 years after it was supposed to have been completed, Northern Virginia Community College will get its third building.

The ground-breaking ceremony for phase three, as its known, was held this morning on campus.

Among the local politicians and staff members who were at the ceremony – some dating back to the early days of the campus – appeared delighted to learn the expansion of the campus is underway.

“The Woodbridge campus alone serves 10,000 students and is larger than 16 other community colleges in the state. This will be the biggest addition to the campus since 1989,” said Woodbridge Provost Dr. Sam Hill.

Through partnership agreements, space constraints have forced the college to host classes at nearby Freedom High School and Strayer University.

“We are pleased with Dr. Hill with managing growth at a facility where expansion is well overdue,” said NVCC President Dr. Robert G. Templin.

Before opening its full campus on Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbridge, NVCC held classes inside a trailer at Woodbridge Middle School.

The new 84,000 square foot building will house a new lecture hall, science labs, cafeteria, photography department, and theatre and study rooms.

It is scheduled to open August 2012.

Dr. Charles Errico, a history professor at the campus, during a presentation joked construction of the new building is “right on target.” Phase three was originally planned to open in 1984.

Northern Virginia Community College was opened in 1965 and the Woodbridge campus opened 10-years later. Before opening its current facility, the college held night classes in trailers at Woodbridge Middle School.

Officials who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony noted U.S. Census Bureau data that shows Prince William County as the fastest-growing county in Virginia, now with more than 400,000 residents who could benefit from the services offered by NVCC.

News
Case of Missing Woman now Death Investigation

Linda Mae Archer

Woodbridge, Va. –– The bones found last year in a wooded area in Woodbridge are those of Linda Mae Archer, police say.

Archer, 58, had been missing from her home in the 3600 block of Elm Farm Road since October 2004. Her family told police she was missing in January 2005.

A missing persons report was filed, but police were never able to determine if foul play was involved in her disappearance, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

On June 2, 2010, police were called to a wooded area near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road, less than two miles away from Archer’s home, where skeletal remains were found.

Those remains were sent to a lab for DNA comparison for a possible match with Archer’s relatives. This month, those remains were determined to be Archer’s, said Perok.

Archer’s case has now gone from a missing persons case to a death investigation.

News
Renters in for Sticker Shock

It’s no secret that rental properties in the Potomac Communities are in high demand.

Some say it’s because of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure.

BRAC, as its known, is expected to bring more than 20,000 new military and federal workers to the Ft. Belvoir Army Garrison and Quantico Marine Corps Base, and landlords know those who relocate to these jobs will want to live where they work.

“At least two or three times a week I get an email request from someone relocating to the area. They want a reasonable commute to Fort Belvoir…access to public transportation to D.C. Easy enough to do. Then the hard part or perhaps the reality part hits. Most often they want a three or four bedroom detached home with a garage for under $2,000 a month. Unfortunately reality is the rental prices for a detached homes meeting this criteria starts closer to $2,300, and more likely will be $2,500 or more per month,” stated Woodbridge-based real estate agent Cindy Jones in her blog.

Jones says those who move here can opt for a longer commute time and choose to live in Prince William County to find a home at the $2,000 price point.

Northern Virginia is still a buyer’s market out there, real estate agents say.

It seems many people who are looking to rent still want to see if the market will go any lower, still waiting for their best deals, said Stafford real estate agent Rob Rachon.

“Purchasers are becoming wiser because people do not need to make decisions in one day if they want the home or risk losing it. If they lose out on that home, there will mostly likely be another one like it on the market next week,” said Rochon.

In Stafford, the market has yet to see a major influx of people relocating to the area because of BRAC. But they are coming, says Rochon.

“As people move down here for BRAC the pace will pick up, that’s going to bring more people to the area and fill jobs,” said Rochon.

Traffic
HOV lanes to Close This Weekend

Photo: Mary Davidson
Photo: Mary Davidson

Commuters use a busy Interstate 95 near Woodbridge on a weekday morning. (Mary Davidson)

The High Occupancy Vehicle lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road will close this weekend.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation have ordered the closure so inspectors can get a close-up look of the condition of the lanes.

It’s not a safety inspection, but more of a “taking inventory” of the lanes on Interstate 95 and 395, said VDOT spokesman Mike Salmon.

Message signs will mark the closure, and the lanes are scheduled to reopen before the Monday morning rush hour.

The inspection comes after Virginia transportation officials announced last month they will convert the HOV lanes to toll lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road, just north of the Capital Beltway.

When complete, drivers will have the option to pay a toll to use the lanes essentially buying their way out of gridlock. Occupants in vehicles of three or more will still be able to use the lanes for free.

The new lanes will eventually connect to HOT lanes being constructed on the Beltway, between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road.

Letter: You Should Attend U.S. 1 Interchange Meeting

On Thursday, March 24, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials will hold a public hearing about the proposed North Woodbridge Interchange at Route 1 and Route 123.  This public hearing will be the first opportunity for the community to review the new proposal and provide feedback to VDOT officials. I encourage all Woodbridge residents to attend the public hearing from 5:00 to 8 pm. at Botts Fire Hall, located at 1306 F Street, Woodbridge.

To date, funding has not been available to proceed with the North Woodbridge Interchange project. However, money will be allocated to fund at least phase I of the interchange in the Governor’s transportation package that recently passed the General Assembly.  I am very excited about the beginning of this important project after decades of planning and promises.

Once funding is available, the North Woodbridge Interchange will be the fourth major road project in the Woodbridge Magisterial District since I took office in 2008.  We have repaired Featherstone Road over the CSX railroad tracks, expanded the Neabsco Creek Bridge and expanded Route 1 from Cardinal Drive to Neabsco Road to alleviate flooding issues in this corridor, expanded Route 1 from Neabsco Mills to Featherstone Road, and opened Neabsco Road from Opitz Boulevard to Dale Boulevard.

I look forward to the dialogue that will ensue during and after the VDOT public hearing.  A healthy exchange of ideas will ensure we get the best project design possible.  Once you see the plan for the North Woodbridge Interchange, please let me know your thoughts so I can also speak to VDOT on behalf of the community.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call me at 703-792-4646 or email fprincipi@pwcgov.org

Frank J. Principi
Woodbridge District Supervisor

Anyone may submit an open letter to PotomacLocal.com by emailing it to news@potomaclocal.com and writing Open Letter in the subject line.

News
Woodbridge Preschool Turns 40

Cloverdale School staff photo.

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus
kkotlus@potomaclocal.com

For most children preschool lasts for two or three years, but for Cloverdale School in Woodbridge the fun has lasted for 40.  This small school described by parents as having a “family feel” serves children from two and a half through second grade.

Cloverdale School began as a ministry of Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Cloverdale in Dale City but moved in 1990 to Bethel United Methodist in Woodbridge, and now exists as a non-sectarian school.

Meredyth Stirling, the school’s music teacher since 1984, says that “by maintaining a half-day program instead of converting to a daycare, Cloverdale has continued to attract supportive, involved families who enjoy a very connected relationship to the teachers”.

Stirling also shared that for the teachers at the school, some of whom have been with the program for well over 20 years, there is a certain sisterhood, fostered with communication and an annual Christmas kick line number that the children have come to expect during the holiday show.

Cloverdale School will be celebrating its 40th Birthday this Sunday, March 20, from 5 – 7 p.m.  Former students are invited, and the school has already had numerous responses from retired staff as well as former students, some of whom now bring their own children to preschool at their alma mater.

When asked what brings people back with such fond memories, Stirling said it was the teaching philosophy to “let children be who they are.  That’s the magic –– to let children be children.”

News
Lorton Man Faces DUI, Eluding Charges

Oliver Rivera-Williams faces multiple charges in Pricne William County, police say.

Woodbridge, Va. –– Police say a Lorton man stopped on DUI suspicion tried to run away on foot but was later captured.

Officers stopped a driver in the area of Old Bridge Road and Westridge Drive in Lake Ridge about 2:11 a.m. Saturday.

An officer got of the patrol car and approached the driver, spoke with him, but the driver then raced off, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The driver led police on a chase to the area of Westridge Drive and Quarterhorse Lane where he jumped out of his car and fled on foot.

Officers caught up with the man and arrested him.

Oliver Rivera-Williams, 25, is charged with felony eluding, driving under the influence of alcohol, with resisting arrest and with driving on a suspended license, said Perok.

He is scheduled to appear in court May 3.

Police in Woodbridge were also kept busy over the weekend with a series of larcenies from autos.

Officers were called to the area of Jonathan Court and Vals Way in Montclair for a report of several cars had been broken into and valuables removed, said Perok.

The items, however, were dumped in a surrounding neighborhood.

At 8:38 a.m. Saturday,  police were called to Lindsay Chevrolet on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge after someone stole 20 tires and rims from five cars parked on the lot. A sixth vehicle had a rear window smashed out, said Perok.

The damage was valued at $15,500, and the incident is possibly related to another vandalism reported on March 7 in Manassas.

Vandals went to Koons GMC and stole 36 tires and rims valuing $45,000, police said.

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