For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.

Woodbridge Local

Traffic
Here are your new buses if you’re bound for Ballston, Rosslyn, or Virginia Tech/I-81 corridor

Commuters will have a new option to get around the construction for the Interstate 395 E-ZPass Express Lanes.

Virginia officials are offering $260,000 for a new express bus to serve the I-95 and 395 corridors during the anticipated two-year project to convert the HOV lanes between Duke Street and the Pentagon to E-ZPass Express Lanes.

There are four proposed trips from Dale City in Prince William County to the Ballston/Rosslyn corridor in Arlington. A list of stops, operating timetables, and fares for the bus service has not yet been worked out, according to Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

While the Commission would operate the service, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will fund the service through its transportation management plan.

PRTC currently operates a similar state-funded bus on I-66 as crews work to add E-ZPass lanes between Gainesville in Prince William County and Dunn Loring in Fairfax County. The Gainesville to the Pentagon and Washington, D.C. buses serve a commuter lot on Limestone Drive and then serves Linton Hall Road before getting on I-66.

Weekday afternoon trips take commuters from the Pentagon and Downtown D.C. home again. 

A one-way fare is $9.60 or $6.90 when paid with a SmarTrip card.

The PRTC Board of Commissioners must approve the measure, and it’s expected to take up the measure at its Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 7 p.m.

The new E-ZPass bus will be the second in a series of new state-funded bus services. On December 1, DRPT launched the Virginia Breeze inter-city bus service between Virginia Tech, Dulles Airport, Arlington, and Union Station in Washington, D.C.

A one-way ticket between Blacksburg and Washington. D.C. will cost riders about $50. The bus will travel I-81 and also serve stops in Christiansburg, Lexington, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Front Royal.

The northbound route will leave the Virginia Tech Squires Student Center at 8 a.m. daily and arrive at Union Station at 2:30 p.m. A daily southbound bus will leave daily from Union Station at 9:30 a.m. and arrive at Virginia Tech at 3:40.

The Virginia Breeze is the state’s first inter-city commuter bus.



JES Foundation Repair provides FREE inspections to homeowners suspecting damage from recent earthquakes

Regional experts who helped hundreds after the Mineral, Va. earthquake are available to inspect homes damaged from the recent Howard County, M.d. and Dover, Del. earthquakes.

After the 2011 earthquake in Mineral, JES Foundation Repair had a busy schedule inspecting and repairing homes from Virginia Beach to Baltimore. Now with the tremors recently in Howard County and Dover,  the Manassas branch of JES is ready to provide free inspections to homeowners in Maryland or Northern Virginia that might wonder if their home’s foundation was affected.

Signs and symptoms of possible damage to a home’s foundation from an earthquake include cracks in brick, cracks in drywall, doors, and windows that stick and uneven floors. Leaning chimneys pulling away from the home is one of the more common damages that occur even with minor tremors.

If there is damage, JES provides a free assessment and estimate on what is needed for a long-term repair solution. Call 877-537-9675 or go to jeswork.com to arrange the free inspection.

About JES Companies

JES Companies specializes in residential foundation repair, crawl space encapsulation, basement waterproofing, and concrete lifting. It is comprised of JES Foundation Repair, JES Evergreen, Indiana Foundation Service, and Mount Valley Foundation Services. JES Companies operates out of five offices in Virginia including Manassas, Virginia Beach, Chester, Appomattox, and Salem as well as Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbia, South Carolina. JES has been named to the Fortune 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, Virginia Chamber of Commerce Fantastic 50, Inside Business Roaring Twenty and Best Places to Work. JES Companies serves Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia. For more information about JES, please visit www.jeswork.com.

News
Bring an unwrapped toy for the annual VRE Marine Corps Toys for Tots collection Wednesday

From a press release: 

VRE will be holding its Annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots collection next Wednesday, December 6th. For those who wish to participate, please bring a new unwrapped toy to your morning train and leave it on the seat. VRE “elves” will then collect the toys and deliver them to the Marine Corps for distribution. If you would prefer to give a monetary donation, please give it to your conductor that same morning.

Toys for Tots is an annual event where VRE and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve partner to collect toys for those who cannot afford a holiday gift. We are proud to say that VRE riders are some of the largest contributors to the Northern Virginia area and we look forward to continuing that tradition. We thank you in advance and appreciate your continued generosity toward those less fortunate.



Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center leads the mission for women and family-centered care

Newly renovated rooms, family birthing units and an open floor plan is transforming the patient experience for expectant mothers. 

On Thursday, November 30, 2017, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center officially launched its Women’s Health Center. The hospital recently celebrated 45 years of serving the community. This latest development showcases Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s commitment to women and families.   

For decades, we’ve served the community as Women’s and Children’s services.  As we look towards the future, we are focused on the comprehensive needs of women in Northern Virginia. The new Women’s Health Center provides the infrastructure we need to expand our services and care for women throughout their lifetime,” explains Kathie Johnson, President, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The new Women’s Health Center offers 27 newly renovated rooms. These private rooms feature a contemporary, open floor plan with an ensuite bathroom, infant warming beds and room for family and friends, all in close proximity to nursing staff. State of the art nursing stations allow caregivers to monitor mothers’ labor and symptoms as they occur and allow immediate response. This, coupled with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s level 2 NICU, supported by our partnership with Children’s National Health System, enables us to ensure 24/7, top of the line, neonatology care, all to benefit the tiniest members of our community.

“The location of our NICU allows babies who require extra support to be cared for at a neonatal facility close to home. Our goal is to provide seamless, coordinated care to make this a positive experience for mother, child and family,” explains Johnson. 

This full-service center supports our goal, which is to provide the highest quality of care. An extension of our Women’s Health Center features access to a team of female Nurse Navigators specializing in Obstetrics, Cardiac, Orthopedics, Urology, Bariatrics and Oncology. This group of women clinicians understands and will support you through your health journey, with a full range of preventative health screenings, education program and support groups for every phase of your life. 

“Our new name says to everyone, including the moms, that you and your family are first. It demonstrates our unique needs as women and how we need to make our health a priority,” adds Florence Pullo, RN, Interim Director, Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

To find a physician to care for you, through every stage of your life, call 1-800-SENTARA.

Traffic
New traffic signal with turn lanes and pedestrian improvements proposed at Blackburn Road and Rippon Boulevard

From VDOT: 

The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6 on plans to improve the intersection of Blackburn Road and Rippon Boulevard to improve traffic operations and safety.

The project plans include a new traffic signal with turn lanes and pedestrian improvements at the Blackburn and Rippon intersection.

The public is invited to stop by between 6:30 and 8 p.m. in the library at Freedom High School, 15201 Neabsco Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA 22191to view displays, learn more about the project, preliminary design. The project team will discuss signal and non-signal options at the Rippon Boulevard and Blackburn Road intersection and the Rippon Boulevard and Forest Grove Drive intersection. VDOT staff will be available to answer questions. 

A presentation will begin at 7 p.m.

Comments may be provided at the meeting or sent to VDOT by Dec. 16, 2017. E-mail or mail comments to Ms. Angel Tao, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

View the project page for more details.

Tour historic Rippon Lodge this holiday season for ‘Christmas Through the Ages’

What had started as a fast-paced struggle across the Low Countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and finally into France itself, the First World War was already five months old by December of 1914.

In September, the French and British Armies had stopped the German drive short of Paris, at the Marne River. Warfare slowed down as soldiers dug trenches; the ‘front’ facing enemy positions were only the very tip of a system that stretched miles deep.

Infantrymen, in contact with the enemy, did not expect much of a Christmas celebration that year under such desperate conditions. Units rotated periodically, with a day of rest in less exposed trenches to the rear, where they would not be under direct fire. This brief relaxation would be the most men would expect for the holiday.

Ignored by officials on both sides, Pope Benedict XV attempted to arrange a truce between the warring powers for Christmas.

What actually happened came from men in the field, without any apparent organization. It started after men settled into the trenches in November… it began with arrangements (ceasefires) while recovering the dead from No-Man’s Land. Burial parties, from opposing sides, then exchanged information and food with each other.

In many places, the lines were close enough that the soldiers could shout across at each other, whether to taunt or simply chat. Conversing was especially clear among the German and British armies, because many men had visited or lived in both nations, and could communicate with each other in English.

On Christmas Eve, British soldiers reported that German soldiers started singing songs and playing music. Soon, the British responded with their own tunes and songs. The shouts between men took on a festive tone, exchanging seasonal greetings. Who first raised their head above the trenches goes unrecorded, but officers and infantrymen from both sides, began to emerge. And no one fired. Artillery fell silent in some sectors.

Orders, of course, strictly prohibited any of this fraternization, holiday or not. Many company officers and Generals were afraid that it would prevent men from continuing the fight afterward. There seemed to exist among the soldiers in the trenches, a sort of understanding, born from their shared condition, regardless of general orders.

This did not extend to all soldiers, of course. Captain Billy Congreve of the Rifle Brigade wrote in his diary, “We have issued strict orders to the men not to on any account allow a truce, as we have heard rumours that they will probably try to. The Germans did. They came over towards us singing. So we opened rapid fire on them, which is the only truce they deserve.”

On the other side of the issue, Captain Bruce Bairnsfather of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment observed among his men that, “There was not an atom of hate on either side that day; and yet, on our side, not for a moment was the will to war and the will to beat them relaxed. It was just like the interval between the rounds in a friendly boxing match.” While there was suspicion, mistrust, and prejudice on both sides, it was pushed aside for that peaceful meeting.

The high command’s fears came to fruition in some of the battlefields the day after Christmas. Private Frank Richards of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, wrote in his memoirs, “During the whole of Boxing Day (December 26th) we never fired a shot, and they the same, each side seemed to be waiting for the other to set the ball a-rolling.”

In the end, as units rotated back to different positions, and simply as time passed, the informal truces ended. These ‘truces’ became a distant memory, as the first year of a brutal struggle would go on another four years, with 29 million soldiers killed or wounded, over 57% of those serving. There would never be another Christmas quite like the one in 1914.

This December at Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge, Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division will be presenting Christmas Through the Ages. This special holiday-only program starts off with a tree lighting on the lawn December 2 and continues every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 23. The first tour of the day begins at 11:00 am and the last at 3:00 pm.

Each walk through the Lodge with one of the guides takes a visitor through some American holiday-time traditions; from the 1700s celebration of the time between Christmas and Epiphany, known as Twelfth Night, through the Victorian age, 1920s, and 1930s, learn how we came to celebrate Christmas as it is today.

Another special occasion will be a visit from Santa Claus on December 9th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Parents will be given a ‘Things Santa Should Know’ card before their child meets that right jolly old elf in his temporary residence in Rippon Lodge’s cabin.

Traffic
PRTC Executive Director Bob Schneider talks transportation on Davis Ford Road

In a follow-up post to our Davis Ford and Yates Ford roads Traffic Think Tank, here’s a video we showed during the event on Oct. 19, 2017.

We asked PRTC Executive Director Bob Schneider about traffic conditions on the two-lane roads and challenges managing mass transit in low population density areas. 

Video transcript: 

For PRTC and OmniRide, our biggest challenge is in the mid-county area and its lack of density.

So we don’t have dedicated transit services in that corridor and instead really rely on road network to get commuters, residents to the park and ride lots.

Some of our top areas are Horner Road. So many of those residents in that community travel to Horner Road to pick up our services, use slugging, or many other means of transportation such as vanpool or carpool.

In terms of safety and transit utilization, there are some big challenges.

First and foremost it’s a beautiful area, therefore, its low density. All that low density makes it really difficult to effectively manage transportation, mass transit issues, and with those being the roads that very little infrastructure in terms of sidewalks, which of course and any pedestrian would want, simultaneously there are not a lot of crosswalks, or very many, if any intersections with traffic signals.

So it makes it very difficult for us in order to manage turns, have that infrastructure that brings pedestrians to the forefront.

One of the best solutions that we’re looking at is two things, one of which is looking at the Horner Road expansion of the parking and ride lot. Is there a chance to improve or increase capacity at the park and ride lot which is a challenge, but all that do is draw more commuters through that corridor or possibly increase congestion.

One of the alternatives would be to look at, is there some way to take advantage of the park and ride lots closer to the interior of the county that are more conducive to travel that we could serve more effectively.

If you think about it, one large commuter bus traveling through an intersection in moves 60 cars at once. That’s the equivalent of what happens when those vehicles move through. Simeltenousuly, that’s the equivalent of 15 cars, four lanes wide four lanes wide on I-95.

That one transit bus removes all those cars, and because we have the occupation of the HOT lanes, we’re able to move residents in and out of D.C. much quicker.

Those are some of the key issues we face along the Yates Ford and Davis Ford corridor.


Karen was tired of restructuring family fun around her pain. So she did something about it.

Dr. Daniel Hampton at Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center reserves surgery as a last resort for patients with chronic knee pain.

When Karen Cribb, the Patient Advocate at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, became Dr. Hampton’s patient, he told her that eventually, she would need to have knee replacement surgery. After weighing the benefits and risks of surgery, they decided to try alternative therapies such as anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and injections first to see if they could manage her osteoarthritis, pain, and limited mobility issues without surgery.

Injections of corticosteroids provided temporary relief for Karen. However, when the medication wore off, the pain grew unbearable. They then tried a series of four shots designed to build cushioning around the knee, but that did not prove effective for her either.

“Those treatments work for different people to varying degrees,” said Dr. Hampton. “When it’s time for surgery, your body will tell you.”
Karen grew up playing sports like basketball and softball during a time when there were no professional coaches ensuring the safety of younger athletes. As she got older, her knees began to bother her.

“I truly didn’t pay attention to the pain, until I couldn’t participate in family activities the way I used to,” said Karen.

She finally realized her mobility restrictions as she listened to her husband and daughters plan a big family vacation to New England for her upcoming birthday. Well-intentioned, her husband and daughters repeatedly said, “Mom can’t do that, so we won’t do it.”

Karen acknowledged they were restructuring the fun activities around her pain. During her vacation, she was disappointed when she could not get to the top of a lighthouse in Maine or climb the steps at Bunker Hill in Boston. Karen wanted to be active and pain-free, so she could enjoy time with her family, and she resolved to do something about it.

Karen knew the time had come for surgery when she began to fall and make trips to the emergency room that caused her to miss family activities. The rest of Karen’s body was now compensating for her injured knee, and she eventually threw out her back. Her daughter was getting married soon, and she did not want her knee problems to interfere with the wedding. It was time to consider knee replacement surgery.

“Throwing out my back because of my knee pain was an eye opener,” Karen said. “That was the decision–making moment for me.”
Karen and Dr. Hampton set her surgery date for April.

“There is a very high success rate with knee replacement surgery,” Dr. Hampton said. “About 95 percent of patients do well with replacements.”

Patients who opt for knee replacement have an intense recovery period with several months of extensive physical therapy. “Additionally,” Dr. Hampton said, “there is a six-month check-up and another follow-up appointment at one year with periodic x-rays. Patients are then, typically seen annually.”

Surgery requires a close partnership between the patient, surgeon, and rehabilitation therapists. The patient must be motivated to adhere to the therapy regimen and stay active, even when there are some stiffness and pain. Walking, hiking, swimming, and other low impact exercises are excellent ways to stay active for those recovering from knee replacement surgery, and they carry the added benefit of potential weight loss, which further reduces pressure and strain on the knee.

The surgery itself was not painful for Karen. Her family was incredibly supportive, encouraging her to stay active, helping her recuperate, and driving her to her medical appointments during her recovery. When Karen returned to work, the staff at Sentara was also very supportive.

“This is what we do, for our patients and each other,” said Karen. She and her coworkers even shared a good laugh about her bedazzled cane she used during her recovery. “Go gaudy or go home,” Karen joked.

Karen completed her physical therapy four months after her surgery. Overall, she describes the surgical experience as positive. She’s grateful for her improved quality of life.

“I really appreciate Dr. Hampton and the therapists saying that I can’t hurt the knee, but I will hurt myself if I don’t stay active,” Karen said. “It feels great to feel good.”

To find an orthopedic specialist near you call 1-800-SENTARA or visit: Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at https://www.sentara.com/woodbridge-virginia/medicalservices/services/joint-replacement.aspx.

 

News
“Santa Cops” on duty to take children toy shopping this holiday season

From the Fraternal Order of Police Battlefield Lodge #43:

Potomac Mills Wal-Mart will be the safest place in town on December 2nd at 7:15 a.m. as the Fraternal Order of Police, Battlefield Lodge 43 kick off their annual charity event “Santa Cops” 2017. Uniformed law enforcement officers unite from Prince William County Police,
Prince William Adult Detention Center, Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and GMU Police to take 50+ selected “at risk” children, ranging in ages 5-10, Christmas shopping in hopes of making their Christmas special.The children are then escorted in cruisers in a convoy of lights and sirens over to breakfast graciously donated by Ornery’s.

On December 9th, the safest place to be will be at the Super Wal~Mart at 7:15 a.m. in Manassas as the “Santa Cops” 2017 charity event makes it’s way to the West end of Prince William County teaming up with uniformed officers from Prince William County Police, Prince William Adult Detention Center, Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, Manassas City Police, Manassas Park Police, Haymarket Police, GMU Police and Virginia State Police to take an additional 50+ selected “at risk” children, ranging in ages 5-10, Christmas shopping.

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How FreshySites updated this 3-year-old website that didn’t share the sleek look of this modern national security school

At FreshySites, we’re dedicated to taking our clients’ online presence to the next level through the creation of beautiful, clean and user-friendly websites.

This mission extends from regional to national clients.

Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security (DMGS) came to us to build their new website because they were dissatisfied with the antiquated style and functionality of their site at the time.

This three-year-old website didn’t have the sleek or modern look they felt represented their organization, dedicated to training our country’s future national security professionals in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Among what DMGS wanted was a more unique and advanced functionality to complement a newly polished design, but still able to offer the immense amount of information about the organization’s history, curriculums, daily goings-on, etc.

Building this website required our team to be extremely creative and meticulous in incorporating all the content – over forty pages worth – their site contains in an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly format.

After countless check-ins to ensure the website’s flawless functionality – that the dozens of redirect links worked correctly, all the content was organized and revised, etc. – as well as extensive coordination to ensure a smooth launch process on a specific date at a specific time, the DMGS site went live.

What resulted from FreshySites’ determination to take this regional project, with national implications, to the next level was a robust and comprehensive website that conveys the credibility, legitimacy, and importance of what the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security prepares their students for on a daily basis.

See for yourself! Explore the dozens of pages, all stemming from a simple menu, filled with information on the different programs DMGS offers, admission qualifications, downloadable applications, news, events and more.

FreshySites – a regionally focused company with national reach and operations.

About FresySites: 

FreshySites is a fast-growing website design firm dedicated to creating beautiful websites, while consistently delivering best-in-industry customer service and support. Founded in 2011, FreshySites has quickly expanded into the largest in-house WordPress web design shop on the East Coast.

Our Washington D.C. office was founded in 2012 by Vincent Consumano. With additional offices, we have the team, resources and tools to serve our local – and national – clients through website mockups, creative briefs, revision rounds, and Search Engine Optimization audits. FreshySites is determined to take our regional clients’ online presence to the next level, ultimately helping them to grow and thrive.

Explore our website to learn more about us, see our portfolio of work and become a part of our client family today!

Support local shops, restaurants, and services for Small business Saturday

“Small Business Saturday” was launched in 2010 by American Express to encourage shoppers across America to focus a portion of their holiday shopping on small, local businesses. The program was initially aimed at helping main street businesses survive the economic downturn and cardholders were offered various perks for shopping small. “Small Business Saturday” has since evolved into an annual event featuring tens of thousands of participating shops, restaurants and service providers throughout the country.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Manassas and significantly contribute to this historic City’s modern beat. The revenues generated from these businesses are what helps enable the City to provide high-quality public services.

On Nov. 25, Historic Manassas Inc. will celebrate Small Business Saturday by “rolling out the blue carpet” for the local businesses. Events are planned throughout the morning to kick-off the local holiday season and discounts will be offered by many merchants. Come out on Saturday, November 25th and support the local small businesses of Historic Downtown Manassas on Shop Small Saturday!


News
Teaching the DAGPAW: Martial Arts and concepts for Life at Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center offers a variety of martial arts programs for kids of all ages. Master Geoff Mann teaches all of the martial arts classes here at the Community Center. He received his first black belt in 1992 and is a fifth-degree black belt.

Master Geoff has been an instructor at the Community Center for 13 years. That gives him more history at Parks and Recreation than the actual building itself!

Master Geoff explains that the term martial arts initially means “military way of.” The history of martial arts dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, and China. The military of these countries took the fighting and defensive systems of the peasants, adapted, and then incorporated these fighting styles to suit their military needs.

Fast forward to the 1970’s where martial arts legend Bruce Lee became famous for his skills and beliefs that the best fighter is someone who is adapted to any martial arts style while incorporating individual style and not limiting themselves to one practice.

“When I started training in 1985, the MMA club where I was training introduced us to all MMA practices at the time, so we learned a real variety! Now, I teach modern Karate, traditional Tae Kwon Do and I add a little Kempo, Akido, and Jujitsu. My own background and training is inspired by Bruce Lee because we both believe in individual style while emphasizing various martial arts,” he explains.

DAGPAW

Master Geoff tells everyone, students, and parents, that he firmly believes teaching karate and other martial arts is his tool to teach discipline, courtesy, and respect.

“Parents rarely come to me and say they want their kids to defend themselves. Instead, what parents want is for their kids to stay focused and to use their energy learning skills they can use in life. I teach these kids to become better citizens using the concepts of discipline, courtesy, and respect,” he points out.

Master Geoff teaches a theory called, DAGPAW, which stands for discipline, a’s and b’s, goal setting, perseverance, attitude (a good, can-do attitude) and work ethic. To Master Geoff, these are the real benefits of Karate and other martial arts.

“With MMA, the more involved you are, the better off you are. I am also a big believer in having consequences for actions,” he says.

The martial arts uniform is a useful tool to help discipline and focus the children. Mann encourages parents to purchase the uniform to help children achieve their goals. He gives students incentives through the patches on their uniform.

Master Geoff teaches his three to seven-year-old students how to kick properly and gets them to follow those guidelines as closely as possible. He admits there is no one true art form and encourages mixing to adapt to students’ needs and preferences.

“Traditional ways are great, but they might not be practical such as the high jumping kick. This particular kick was originally used to knock people off horses and is not something I use in my classes,” explains Mann.

The MMA classes at the Community Center begins with the Dragon Tots class for students, ages three to four, to learn basic martial arts skills with special emphasis on courtesy, discipline, and respect. This class is on Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 12:55 p.m.

WCRB Mixed Martial Arts are specifically for children, ages six to 13, with or without prior experience, to learn martial arts while emphasizing respect, courtesy, and discipline! This class also combines Master Geoff’s Academic Excellence program to help maximize your child’s learning. The class is on Mondays, from 5 to 5:50 p.m. or 6 to 6:50 p.m.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, special events, and recreational classes. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

News
Surovell’s short-term 3: Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and nonpartisan redistricting

Election Day was an electoral earthquake in Virginia politics.  Fourteen seats in the House of Delegates switched from Republican to Democratic members – the largest switch since 1899.  Two have not yet been certified due to irregularities and three are heading to recounts.  We do not know if any party will control the House and probably will not know until late in the day on the first day of session after the dust has settled.

While the new situation in the House of Delegates will create some uncertainty over the next fifty days, it will create some opportunities in Virginia public policy, but not a wholesale change of direction.  The Senate of Virginia is still controlled by the Republican Party and most major committees have significant partisan majorities. 

Notwithstanding, I am hopeful that in the short-term, we might see some changes in a three areas: Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice Reform, and Nonpartisan Redistricting. 

Medicaid Expansion
First, Virginia has foregone billions of dollars over the last several years due to our failure to expand Medicaid.  In addition to billions of dollars, we have lots 30,000 new jobs per year and approximately $200 million per year in savings to Virginia taxpayers. 

Today, nearly 36,000 residents of the 36th District receive their healthcare from Medicaid including 24,000 children.  This means there are likely over 20,000 adults right here within minutes of your home who would receive healthcare if Virginia had taken action. 

The new margins in the House of Delegates make movement much more likely, but not without some changes in our existing program.  In 1985, Medicaid consumed six percent of Virginia’s General Fund Budget – today, that number has grown to twenty-three percent and that is before the coming tsunami of baby boomer retirement home admissions.  We need to bend the Medicaid cost curve, but I am hopeful that we are nearing the end of irrationally refusing federal help to get healthcare to hundreds of thousands of needy Virginians. 

Criminal Justice Reform
Second, Virginia’s residents and jails continue to be burdened by an overly punitive criminal justice system which over-felonizes conduct and clings on to antiquated trial practices.  Virginia’s $200 threshold between misdemeanors and felonies in the lowest in the United States of America and has not been adjusted since 1981.  I will introduce legislation to raise this to $500 and remain the lowest in the United States for the ninth time.  Similar legislation has passed the Senate and died in the House five times.  Hopefully, no longer.

Also, accused persons in Virginia have extremely limited discovery rights in criminal trials.  Legislation to bring Virginia’s criminal discovery rules up to modern standards has also passed the Senate and died in the House.  This year should be different.

Non-Partisan Redistricting
Third, the close margins in the Senate and House of Delegates may finally make it possible to move nonpartisan redistricting legislation through the General Assembly.  Computer enabled partisan redistricting lies at the root of many political problems in our country.  Non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments have passed the State Senate twice but normally die in committee in the House.  I am hopeful that the new situation in Richmond will move the discussion forward.

I am putting together the 36th District legislative agenda over the next month.  Please send me your legislative ideas and feedback on structuring our $100 billion budget over the next two years.

It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.  Please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any thoughts.

Scott Surovell (D) represents southern Fairfax, eastern Prince William, and northern Stafford counties in the Virginia State Senate. 

News
I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes to bring sweeping changes from Gainesville to Dunn Loring

BRISTOW — If all goes as planned, Interstate 66 will expand to help alleviate Northern Virginia’s crushing traffic volume and boost public transportation by the end of 2022, according to Virginia traffic officials.

Dozens of area residents turned out Thursday for a public hearing on plans for widening I-66 to include tolled express lanes outside the Capital Beltway. Three regular lanes and two express lanes will run in both directions from Haymarket in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

In addition to the 22.5 miles of new E-ZPass Express Lanes, the project includes additional and expanded park-and-ride lots, bus service and transit routes, interchange improvements and bike trails.

“We’re looking at this as a multi-modal project,” Susan Shaw, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia megaprojects director, told the crowd. Once the project is completed, she said, the upgraded system will be able to move 2,000 to 4,000 more people per hour than it currently can.

The overflowing parking lot at Piney Branch Elementary School off Linton Hall Road underscored the need for traffic solutions in an area that typically ranks among the worst in the nation for commuting.

The meeting was the third and final public hearing on the project’s design, and it focused specifically on the segment of the project from Gainesville to Route 29 in Centreville. About a dozen members of the public addressed concerns with the project, including the lack of bike trails in Prince William County, the cost of tolls for commuters and the aesthetics of the proposed sound walls. Public comments will continue to be accepted through Nov. 29.

The I-66 “Outside the Beltway Project” is a public-private partnership between VDOT, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam, Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers VA Inc. It’s expected to bring $3.5 billion in new construction to the region.

At the meeting, officials unveiled a video overview of the project showing what the completed project would look like. Planning for the massive expansion project began in 2011. The timeline calls for construction and right-of-way acquisition to begin in late 2017. That’s followed by additional parking spaces near Gainesville to be completed by summer 2019, and four traffic signals to be removed from Route 28 by summer 2020. The entire project is scheduled to be completed and tolling to begin by December 2022.

Groundbreaking is set for today, near the 1-66 and Route 28 interchange, with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and transportation officials expected to be on hand.

Once construction is underway, it will take place as needed throughout the corridor. Shaw said there would be no lane closures during peak traffic periods.

When they’re completed, the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes will use the same kind of “dynamic pricing,” which changes depending on the volume of traffic, that’s currently used on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95. Roadway sensors monitor traffic volumes, and toll prices adjust to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic flowing. When there’s more traffic, prices will be higher. When there’s less traffic, prices will be lower.

Drivers with three or more occupants would be considered high occupancy vehicles and could use the express lanes free anytime with an E-ZPass Flex.

On the stretch of the I-66 project Inside the Beltway, tolling will begin in December. All lanes of I-66, from I-495 to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn, will become express lanes with tolls on weekdays during expanded rush hours in the peak direction — from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on eastbound lanes and from 3 to 7 p.m. on westbound lanes. Carpoolers with two or more passengers can travel toll-free with an E-ZPass Flex, although that requirement will change to three passengers when the express lanes open outside the Beltway. The lanes inside the Beltway will remain free with no toll or HOV requirements at all other times.

Copies of the proposed designs for the project outside the Beltway are available at Transform66.org. They also are available for viewing at various locations throughout the area, including Prince William County government offices and regional libraries.

VDOT will be accepting additional public comment about the plan through Nov. 29. Email comments to Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov and include “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line.

Comments also can be mailed to VDOT Northern Virginia District, Attention: Susan Shaw, P.E., Megaprojects Director, 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030.

“We want to continue the dialogue we’ve started with the community, both the traveling public and the neighboring communities,” Shaw said.

FreshySites designs, builds first e-commerce website for USA Volleyball

At FreshySites, we’re dedicated to taking our clients’ online presence to the next level through the creation of beautiful, clean and user-friendly websites.

With that mission front and center, we recently harnessed our commitment and passion to partner with WorldWide Sport Supply and create a website for a globally recognized brand and organization – USA Volleyball.

FreshySites was approached to create an E-Commerce website platform that would provide a scaleable solution for order management and fulfillment for the United States Volleyball Team.

Creating an E-Commerce website platform that can handle the high demand and order influx for a national brand has many moving parts.

One of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome was that this was to be the first E-Commerce site for USA Volleyball – ever.

Our team spent hours carefully planning and collaborating – internally and with our client – on the USA Volleyball site, mapping out its many components to ensure flawless functionality and launch.

After months of hard work, we created the USA Volleyball Shop – a modern and fully responsive E-Commerce website, allowing members and fans alike to easily purchase USA Volleyball swag on a beautiful, simple user interface for both desktop and mobile devices.

Explore the site’s different features, like the swatch zoom, which allows users to easily check out various color options for different products, or the sort options, allowing users to shop based on a product’s popularity, price, and rating.

From T-shirts to jackets to hats, there are loads of quality apparel products featured for men, women, and children – all sponsored by Adidas.

With the start of the Winter 2018 Olympics right around the corner, now is the time to explore this brand new site for any USA Volleyball fans you may know!

FreshySites is a regionally-focused company with national reach and operations.

FreshySites is a fast-growing website design firm dedicated to creating beautiful websites, while consistently delivering best-in-industry customer service and support. Founded in 2011, FreshySites has quickly expanded into the largest in-house WordPress web design shop on the East Coast.

Our Washington D.C. office was founded in 2012 by Vincent Consumano. With additional offices, we have the team, resources and tools to serve our local – and national – clients through website mockups, creative briefs, revision rounds, and Search Engine Optimization audits. FreshySites is determined to take our regional clients’ online presence to the next level, ultimately helping them to grow and thrive. Explore our website to learn more about us, see our portfolio of work and become a part of our client family today!

News
The message from Sentara’s opioid town hall: It’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict

Narcan is often used to “wash out” the effects of opioid use for someone who overdosed.

In the past year, 1,159 doses of the counteracting drug — which is also an opioid  — were administered at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center to counteract the effects of heroin and other drugs.

That has prompted emergency department doctors Chinye Obidi to use words like “epidemic,” and “overdose phenomenon.”

“If you’re looking for a gateway drug, this is it,” the Woodbridge physician told a crowd of more than 50 people Thursday night at the medical center, speaking about opioid use and addiction.

Since 1999, the rate of people overdosing on opioids has exploded. And, it affects everybody.

“I feel like I’ve seen this before,” he said. “Maybe some of you are old enough to remember the crack cocaine epidemic? Well, this is different. Instead of going to an urban center and finding a crack house with people holed up and using drugs, it’s in suburban neighborhoods,” he said.

Sentara organized a community symposium called Project STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention. While there, attendees learned that hospitals can use opioids to treat severe pain and that prolonged abusers of the drug have increased sensitivity to pain, constipation, itching, and sweating.

Overdosing is ugly, and sometimes people can’t get the help they need.

“They used to dump you at the emergency department and leave you by the door. Today, they leave you behind 7-Eleven and hope someone finds you before your brain stops working,” said Obidi.

For those able to kick the habit, they will always fight the addiction to use again. “This is a chain you have to carry. This is something you have to fight every day,” he explained.

And, while many people make mistakes and can abuse opioids, Thursday night’s message was: You must have a compassionate and nonjudgmental attitude to the addicts and that it’s OK to hate the addiction but still love the addict.

In the coming year, Sentara plans to provide more resources to families who are dealing with opioid addiction. The hospital also plans to increase the number of drug takeback days, so people can properly dispose of unwanted medication so that it’s not used improperly.

News
No charges pending for discharge of shotgun in thwarting burglary

From Prince William County police:

Shooting Investigation | Residential Burglary – On November 11 at 5:03 p.m., officers responded to a residence located in the 14100 block of Morrison Ct in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a fight. The investigation revealed that a large group of males responded to the home and were involved in a verbal altercation with the residents who were still inside.

During the encounter, several of the males began vandalizing a vehicle parked in the drive way then started throwing objects at the exterior of the home. When one of the suspects kicked open the front door of the home, an adult male resident inside of the residence fired two rounds from a shotgun at the suspects. The suspects eventually fled the area on foot as officers were arriving.

At this point, this incident does not appear to be random. No additional damage to property or any injuries were reported. There are no charges pending for the discharge of the shotgun. The investigation continues.


Chronic compression of the spinal cord meant he couldn’t write a letter or open a bottle. Then Dr. Lotfi stepped in.

Lou Ferrao knew something was terribly wrong. He had suffered from neck pain before.

He even had surgery which gave him limited relief. But the neck pain he felt now was severe and accompanied by other, more ominous, symptoms. He had been experiencing spasms and weakness in his legs and now had begun experiencing the same symptoms in his arms.

Lou had always been an active man. He loved to scuba dive and was certified as a rescue diver; a designation only awarded after completing what some divers call the most challenging course they’ve ever taken. He loved to walk and hike.

Now he found his legs no longer responding to the directions that he was giving. It was devastating.

Determined to find the reason behind his troubling symptoms, Lou visited a neurologist who diagnosed him with severe nerve damage on his left side and moderate damage on the right. His neurologist then referred him to the Sentara Back & Neck Center and Dr. Paymaun Lotfi, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery, to determine the cause of the damage.

As Lou went through a series of tests prescribed by Dr. Lotfi, his condition continued to deteriorate. He was no longer able to open a bottle or write a letter, and when he moved from a room with carpet to one with wood floors, he would lose his balance and stumble.

After all the tests had been completed, Dr. Lotfi diagnosed Lou with cervical spinal stenosis.

Dr. Lotfi explains, “It’s a condition that causes narrowing of the cervical spinal canal and chronic compression of the spinal cord and nerves; this causes numbness and weakness in arms and legs as brain signals can’t reach extremities.”

Dr. Lotfi suggested a spinal laminectomy and fusion, which removes the back part of the vertebrae, decompressing the spinal cord. The spinal column is then stabilized by placing screws and rods in the spine. Since Lou’s condition had been longstanding, Dr. Lotfi explained that he might not regain all his lost strength and lost functions, but it was important to decompress his spine to prevent weakness, paralysis or something even worse.

Lou appreciated the time that Dr. Lotfi spent explaining his condition.

“When Dr. Lotfi sat down with us, his empathy really showed. He tried to put himself in my shoes. He showed us the MRI. You couldn’t see my spinal cord from C2-T2 because it was so compressed,” Lou said. “He gave me an in-depth explanation of what was going on. He was educating me at the same time as he was helping me.”

After listening to Dr. Lotfi, Lou realized that the surgery wasn’t about feeling better; it was about survival. With his wife’s agreement, Lou made the decision to have surgery at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The day of the surgery, everything went well. Dr. Lotfi was with Lou when he woke up and actually removed his cervical collar at that time. Lou suffered very little pain from the procedure and within four days was up and at rehab several hours a day.

Life is better for Lou now. While damage to the spinal cord can sometimes take years to heal, Dr. Lotfi says, “He (Lou) had a rapid recovery, and almost immediately could tell the difference in improved strength in his arms and legs.”

Lou no longer has the severe neck pain that plagued him, and he has regained his sense of balance and is walking with a cane. He is slowly getting his endurance back. He describes his life before and after his surgery as “the difference between night and day.”

Lou can’t say enough about Dr. Lotfi and his experience, “He (Dr. Lotfi) lives up to the Hippocratic oath. He was my guardian angel. It (the surgery) was the best thing I ever did.”

Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from spinal pain don’t seek help. They endure the discomfort and inconvenience for years because of many different reasons.

Dr. Lotfi understands this but says, “(You) may understandably be guarded about surgical treatment of the spine. However, many conditions such as stenosis are very disabling, and a properly executed surgery can truly improve one’s quality of life and function.”

Lou agrees and adds, “People shouldn’t have to suffer because they don’t know a procedure can help them.”

News
Woman standing in home kitchen grabbed from behind, sexually assaulted

From Prince William police: 

Sexual Assault | Residential Burglary – On November 14 at 6:33PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 12700 block of Gazebo Ct in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a burglary in progress. The investigation revealed that the victim, a 54-year-old woman, was standing in her kitchen when she was grabbed from behind by an unknown male. During the encounter, the suspect inappropriately touched the victim. The victim was eventually able to break free from the suspect who then fled the residence on foot. Minor injuries were reported. Entry was made into the home through an unlocked rear door. A police K-9 responded to search for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

A dark skinned male, last seen wearing a ski mask, dark coat, and dark jeans

News
Community meeting at Sentara on Thursday to tackle community’s response to opioid epidemic

WOODBRIDGE — Katey Gemmmell just wants you to STOP.

She’s a registered nurse at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, and she’s put together a new program called Project: STOP — Speaking Out and Teaching Opioid Prevention.

On Thursday night, she’ll join others at a community discussion held at the hospital on the epidemic that has become the opioid crisis not only in the U.S. but in our region.

“People need to feel like they have a positive role to play when it comes to preventing this,” said Gemmell.

The program builds on other symposiums she’s attended in Richmond and Washington, D.C. Attendees will not only get an earful from Gemmell and others in the healthcare industry, but they’ll also see what doctors and nurses must wear while working with a patient who has overdosed — personal, protective equipment, or PPE — to protect themselves from exposure to the deadly narcotic.

There will also be demonstrations on how to inject Naloxone, or Narcan, a nasal injection that serves as an opiate antidote credited with saving the lives overdose patients.

Just this week, Prince William police announced more of its officers would carry the life-saving drug in kits containing two injections. Right now, 36 officers on the force have been trained to use Narcan, and additional training has been ordered for the remainder of the officers on the force.

Since June, Prince William police have investigated 24 fatal overdoses. In 2016, there were 47 deadly incidents.

The epidemic has also prompted changes at the hospital. Sentara introduced a Dilaudid-free emergency room policy, removing the powerful pain medication from ER shelves.

The community discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, located at 2300 Opitz Boulevard in Woodbridge.

News
Sentara celebrates medical center’s 45th birthday

Forty-five years ago, Woodbridge looked like a different place.

“There was a little old house at the bottom of Jefferson Davis Highway and Opitz Boulevard where we bought chicken eggs. And there was probably two stoplights on all of two stop lights on Route 1 — one at Marsumsco, and the other at Longview Drive,” said Carol S. Shapiro, director of the Sentara Northern Virginia Wound Healing Center.

She was one of the founders of what was Potomac Hospital, which opened in 1972. On Thursday, the community gathered at what is today Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center to celebrate the hospital’s anniversary during a celebration called “45 Years New.”

Shapiro, a plastic surgeon who completed her residency at Georgetown University Hospital, was working as the physician for the Gar-Field High School Football Team when she was asked to be apart of a new community hospital.

Shapiro recognized early on the need for Potomac Hospital and she never saw Woodbridge as a two-stoplight town.

“When those kids got injured during a football game, they had to go all the way up to Alexandria. So, there was a real risk of them not getting good medical care,” she said.

Some of the first meetings of the hospital steering committee were held at the old Virginia Power building at the corner of Route 1 and Reddy Drive in Woodbridge. It was there a Board of Directors was founded, and fundraisers held to raise cash to start Potomac Hospital.

“The money that was raised to get this hospital started were community funds. The community wanted this hospital. The community paid for this hospital,” she said.

Things have changed since 1972, Norfolk-based Sentara purchased the Potomac Hospital in 2009 and changed its name to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Today, the center serves a diverse population, more racially diverse than of Sentara’s other locations across the state.

Thursday’s celebration featured Prince William County Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins, as well as current and former hospital staff, and members of its founding team.

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