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Woodbridge Local

Shelter Feeds 97 for Thanksgiving

Anthony Kovach carves turkey that will be served at the Volunteers of America Chesapeake Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge on Thanksgiving Day. (Uriah Kiser/

Woodbridge, Va. — It’s Thanksgiving morning and 20 volunteers crammed a small kitchen in Woodbridge.

“Hand me a Crock Pot, that one over there,” a woman exclaims.

“Is there a bigger one?” one man asked.

“Here, use this one and take it out to the dining room,” another said.

In a kitchen so small, about the size of a large bedroom in a town home, at the Volunteers of America Chesapeake Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center, volunteers are working tirelessly to cook a Thanksgiving feast for some of the neediest residents in the Potomac Communities.

This Thanksgiving, the shelter on U.S. 1 has 11 adults and 14 children who call it a temporary home, with nine of the children under age three.

The dinner, an annual tradition, will be more than enough to feed them but it will also feed the volunteers and their families, as well as anyone else who may be hungry this day – food for up to 100 people, organizers said.

“I’m here because I want my daughter to know that she is blessed and we love helping people,” said Dawn Young, of Lake Ridge. A first-time volunteer at the Woodbridge shelter, she brought her 11-year-old daughter, Tyler, to help.

As Tyler was mixing the mashed potatoes, others were cooking three of the five turkeys that were going to be eaten. Sitting in the dining room was ham, sides and deserts, as well as a cardboard cutout of President Obama, whom residents here say is “always invited to dinner.”

Organizers said 97 people showed up for dinner Thursday. They ate about 1 p.m.

A staple of the shelter, a man who simply goes by J.D., once lived in a tent in the woods before he moved into the shelter three years ago, and now lives in a basement apartment he rents in Woodbridge.

He credits the shelter for not only providing him with a hot meal today, but with saving his life.

“I turn 56 this Sunday. The doctor said I was going to live to see 54,” he said.

After years of drinking, smoking and living in the elements, J.D. was given just months to live. His health and outlook changed after he moved into the shelter.

“These are good people around here, and they saved my life and I’ll always be thankful for that,” he said.


FEMA will now Provide Flood Assistance

Following the floods, victims demanded help from Prince William County officials. (File)

Woodbridge, Va. — More than two months after flood waters ravaged a Woodbridge neighborhood, and after federal assistance was once denied, victims can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said late Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency reversed a previous decision and approved federal disaster funds for Prince William County, which can then be distributed to the flood victims in the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park off U.S. 1. Prince William was one of eight counties to get federal assistance, including Fairfax, King George and Westmoreland counties, after Tropical Storm Lee brought flooding rains to the region Sept. 8 and 9.

The news comes after local officials this week announced the federal government would offer low-interest loans to residents and small businesses that were affected by the floods.

Earlier this month, FEMA denied McDonnell’s request for federal assistance. Prior to last night’s announcement, residents of the Holly Acres park were set to protest outside FEMA headquarters in Washington on Friday morning.

Tropical Storm Lee brought heavy rain to the Potomac Communities, putting a portion of U.S. 1 at Marumsco Plaza under water, sending flood waters into Occoquan and causing a landslide behind two homes in North Stafford.

Low-Interest Loans Available for Flood Victims

Following the Woodbridge flood in September, dozens of victims in the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park not only dealt with homes that were condemned, but a foul stench of sewage and rotting food. (File photo))

WASHINGTON – Offices in Fairfax and Prince William Counties are scheduled to open Wednesday for homeowners, renters, and business in Northern Virginia impacted by Tropical Storm Lee to apply for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Congressman Connolly said Tuesday.

Connolly said the two offices will be open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays from November 16 through November 22.

The Fairfax Office is located in Room 125 of the South County Government Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.

The Prince William Office is located in Suite 140 of the Ferlazzo Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, Woodbridge.

“The window of opportunity is limited and I encourage those Northern Virginia residents, business, and non-profits who incurred property damage from Tropical Storm Lee to take advantage of this program,” Connolly said.

Low-interest SBA loans are available to residents and businesses in the counties of Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Stafford, and Loudoun, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Affected homeowners are eligible for loans up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate damaged by the storm. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for loans up to $40,000 for lost of damaged personal property. Affected businesses and non-profit organizations can receive low-interest loans up to $2 million to replace or repair damaged real estate, as well as equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

SBA officials will be able to answer questions about the disaster loan program and take applications from affected parties, Connolly said.

-Unedited press release 

Volunteers Check Smoke Detectors

Teams of O.W.L. V.F.D members visited over 40 homes Saturday in the River Ridge community to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries. Residents were ready, with new batteries in hand and open doors to welcome the fire fighters.

Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department reminds residents that one easy step can help save their lives and the lives of those around them. Twice a year change the batteries in their own smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, test the alarms and remind friends, family, neighbors and fellow community members to do the same.

Communities nationwide witness tragic home fire deaths each year, but, everyone can work together to help reduce the number of home fire fatalities. Approximately every three hours a home fire death occurs somewhere in the nation and 66 percent of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Non-working smoke alarms rob residents of the protective benefits home fire safety devices were designed to provide. The most commonly cited cause of non-working smoke alarms: worn or missing batteries.

“Eighty percent of child fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. It’s a tragic statistic that could be reduced by adopting the simple habit of the changing your battery when you change your clocks” says Jim McAllister, Chief OWL VFD.

Changing smoke alarm batteries twice a year, testing those alarms and reminding others to do the same are some of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries. Additionally, the International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends that smoke alarms in homes should be replaced every 10 years and having both ionization and photo electric smoke alarms are best to alert people to all types of home fires.

“The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most families are sleeping,” says McAllister. “Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.”

OWL VFD is one the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with over 300 members. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24/7 holidays and weekends.

For more information on OWL VFD, visit or become a fan on Facebook at Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department.

-Unedited press release

ATV Flips, Injures 1

Woodbridge, Va. – One man was flown to a hospital Sunday afternoon after his ATV flipped over.

The crash happened just before 5 p.m. in the Occoquan Oaks neighborhood in Prince William County, off Bacon Race Road.

The 53-year-old victim was taken with injuries that did not appear to be life threatening to the Prince William County Government Center where a helicopter was waiting to take him an area trauma center, said Dale City Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Steve Chappell.

In 2009, 376 people were killed on ATVs in the U.S. while 131,900 were treated for ATV-related injuries.

Blaze Takes Woodbridge Home

Woodbridge, Va. – Fire crews in Woodbridge were called to a fire at a home at 1702 Maurice Drive.

The call went out a 5:42 p.m. Saturday, prompting volunteer fire crews to arrive at the scene within minutes of the blaze erupting, said OWL VFD spokeswoman Rebecca Barnes. Crews spotted smoke billowing from the side of the home, crews pulled an attack line into the, found the fire in the attic and doused it, said Barnes.

No one was injured in the fire, and fire crews found no working smoke detectors in the home. The occupants of the house were displaced, and the fire caused $30,000 in damage and investigators ruled the cause of the fire accidental.

Player Hit after Football Game

Woodbridge, Va. — Police in Prince William County tell the Washington Post they are investigating a situation where a star football player at C.D. Hylton High School was punched in the face after a game Friday.

E.J. Levenberry, a 16-year-old junior, was injured after a game with Potomac High School in Woodbridge. E.J. Levenberry’s father told the Post he believes a parent from the opposing team came onto the field and punched his son in the jaw.

E.J. Levenberry is one of the most sought-after high school athletes in the Washington area with multiple schools offering him scholarships, reports the Post.

Royse Endorsed by McDonnell

Chris Royse announces his campaign for Woodbridge Supervisor.

Woodbridge, Va. — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has endorsed Chris Royse, the Republican vying to represent the Woodbridge District on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

McDonnell in a press release stated he endorsed Royse because of his desire to bring private sector jobs to the area and to keep taxes low.

The endorsement comes less than a week after Royse’s opponent, Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, said he Royse was misleading voters after Royse told reporters this summer that he was in talks the U.S. military’s Africa Command in an effort to relocate their headquarters from Germany to Woodbridge.

A Freedom of Information Act request submitted to AFRICOM from the Principi campaign, and a subsequent statement from Royse, revealed Royse had not been actively talking with the command. Afterward, Royse said bringing the African Command to Woodbridge will continue to be a campaign issue and it is something he will be able to pursue if elected.

“Gov. McDonnell’s endorsement, coming as it does on the heels of my opponent’s decision to begin negative campaign attacks, is a testament to the strength of my campaign, and the power of our positive message of jobs, personal services to constituents, improved public safety, and common sense transportation solutions,” said Royse in a press release. “Bob McDonnell knows that I have the ideas, energy, and leadership skills to ensure Woodbridge shares fully in Prince William County’s, and Virginia’s, prosperity.”

Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Fire Erupts at Dominion Power Building

Woodbridge, Va. — An overnight blaze in Woodbridge brought fire crews to the campus of Dominion Virginia Power.

Fire crews found a 20×40 foot storage shed fully engulfed in flames about 2:55 a.m., at 1901 Reddy Drive. A 911 call prompted crews to rush to the scene, said Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Joseph Robertson.

No injuries were reported, and officials estimate the damage to the building at $50,000. The cause and origin of the fire are still being investigated.


BRAC Committee Releases Final Report

North Stafford, Va. — The committee formed to handle the anticipated problems some feared would come as BRAC relocated federal jobs to the area issued its final report, and all appears to be OK.

The Quantico Growth Management Committee said the major relocation was completed with no major impacts to traffic in the Quantico area, and added enrollment at area schools did not increase and more workers who made the move simply chose to commute from their Washington-area homes to the their new offices than move to the Potomac Communities.

Transportation, and moreover, the lack of federal funding for transportation improvements was a major focus of the committee. While no federal money was provided to improve conditions on Interstate 95, add new transit services or a commuter ferry between Maryland and Virginia, the group was successful in getting $2.5 million to engineer the widening of U.S. 1 between Boswells Corner in North Stafford and Triangle in Prince William County.

The majority of those relocated because of BRAC, from points in Arlington, Fort Belvoir, Maryland and Washington, now work at the 719,000 square foot, $323 million Russell-Knox Building on Russell Road at Quantico.

Woodbridge Civic Association to Hold Board Elections

U.S. 1 at Occoquan Road in North Woodbridge.

Woodbridge, Va. — The annual meeting of the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association will be held later this month and some new faces could be appointed to leadership positions.

The association will meet Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, where up to five new members could be elected to serve on the association’s board of directors. The current board has seven members, and four of those members will remain on the board as their three-year terms have not expired, according to a press release from the WPCCA.

The board will have the option to nominate new members and members of the association at the meeting will also have the opportunity to nominate new members.

The association will tackle regular business after the nomination of new directors.

The WPCCA was formed in October 2008 by volunteers and focuses on the communities along the U.S. 1 corridor.


Fire Engulfs Home Overnight

A fire broke out in the 14000 block of Winding Loop Court in Woodbridge early Friday. (Photo courtesy: OWL VFD)

Woodbridge, Va. — Fire crews overnight were called to a townhouse fire just off U.S. 1 in Woodbridge.

Rescue units were called to the 14000 block of Winding Loop in the Heather Glen neighborhood about 1 a.m. to battle a fire in a three-story town home.

According to firefighters, the blaze was intense and required several units to douse the fire.

The home appeared to be occupied by homeless at the time of the fire. No injuries were reported.

A busy week for the fire department, crews in Lake Ridge on Thursday afternoon were called to a large townhouse fire.


Woodbridge Hospital Awarded Thousands in Grants

The Potomac Health Foundation has awarded three separate grants for projects at Sentara Potomac Hospital.

A $215,000 grant was awarded to the Sentara Family Health Connection Mobile Clinics to cover operational expenses, salaries, and renovations to the oldest of the mobile clinic’s two vans.

The Potomac Health Foundation awarded a second grant of $85,000 to fund the new “Every Baby, Every Time,” program which will be operated out of the mobile clinics. Every Baby, Every Time is a prenatal education and care program that will include pregnancy tests, general prenatal care and finding a prenatal/delivery provider for women in the community.

Each year, many women use the Sentara Potomac emergency room exclusively for prenatal care or to deliver their babies. The Every Baby, Every Time program will increase awareness of the importance of early prenatal care, including nutrition, exercise and managing gestational diabetes.

“Every Baby Every Time will really help us educate women in our community about the importance of early prenatal care,” says Evelyn Marr, R.N., Director of the Sentara Family Health Connection Mobile Clinics. “Our nurse practitioners and outreach workers will be able to perform pregnancy tests and give women resources for follow-up prenatal care and delivery. We’re so excited to add this component to our breadth of services.”

The third grant of $725,000 will fund a new mobile digital Mammography Van for Northern Virginia. In the Prince William County area there is a lack of early detection and treatment of breast cancer, particularly for low income women, leading to a high rate of deaths from breast cancer. Data indicate that the cancers are detected at a late, more serious stage, which signifies the need for improved early detection and treatment.

This program will improve access to mammography screening services for low income and uninsured women and will link patients with necessary follow up diagnosis and treatment services. An additional benefit will be the use of the Mammography Van’s exam room for a variety of women’s health issues, including well women exams and health education and counseling.

“The mammography mobile unit is a 40-foot coach that will have full digital mammography with computer aided detection,” says Marty Ward, director of Radiology and Imaging Services at Sentara Potomac Hospital. “We will partner with the Family Health Connection to serve those with little or no insurance and we’ll also partner with communities, organizations, and houses of worship to make access even more convenient for Northern Virginia residents.”

Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Mammography Van is scheduled to begin service in the spring of 2012. Please contact Marty Ward at 703-670-1866 if you are interested in having the Mobile Mammography Van visit your organization.

-Press release

Benefit Concert to be Announced for Flood Victims

Dozens of Flood victims in Woodbridge’s Holly Acres Mobile Home Park are not only dealing with homes that have been condemned, but a foul stench of sewage and rotting food that has permeated the area after flood waters receded. (Mary Davidson/

Woodbridge, Va. — More than 40 families remain without permanent housing following floods that ravaged the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park earlier this month.

Today, those families along with the Woodbridge Flood Victims Committee will hold a press conference to announce a benefit concert for the flood victims. That conference is scheduled at noon at the Woodbridge mobile home park where so many are still trying to put their lives back together, said Ricardo Juarez Nava with Mexicans Without Borders.

On Friday, a temporary shelter at First Mt. Zion Baptist Church closed its doors. About 70 people were transferred to that shelter after a Red Cross shelter at the Sharon Baucom Dale City Recreation Center closed.

The flood victims committee says it’s working with several other churches and organizations in Prince William County to help find aid for the homeless. They also add private construction firms have donated their time to demolish trailers at no cost to the homeowner.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors has already donated more than $65,000 to the flood victim relief effort.

9/11 Walker Aided by Fire Crew

Mac McQuown, center, stopped at OWL VFD Station 2 in Woodbridge on Monday for a little help during his nationwide walk to raise money for a 9/11 memorial. (Submitted)

Woodbridge, Va. –– Something funny happened on Mac McQuown’s walk to every state capital to raise awareness of the victims of Sept. 11. He began to have problems with the wheel on his cart after leaving Stafford and made an unexpected stop at a Woodbridge firehouse.

McQuown left the Globe and Laurel Restaurant in North Stafford on Sunday morning, 10 years to the date following the terrorist attacks. On Monday night, he stopped into OWL VFD Station 2 in Woodbridge after he encountered trouble with the cart he was pulling, said fire department spokeswoman Rebecca Barnes.

While at the fire station, he was able to fix his cart with the help of a few volunteers who also took him on a ride along and have him a place to sleep for the night, said Barnes.

McQuown plans to walk 15,000 miles across the U.S. to each state capital and Washington, D.C., by himself, to raise money for a 9/11 memorial to be placed in one of the Midwestern or west coast states.

Victims Make Demands

Dozens of Flood victims in Woodbridge’s Holly Acres Mobile Home Park are not only dealing with homes that have been condemned, but a foul stench of sewage and rotting food that has permeated the area after flood waters receded. (Mary Davidson/

Woodbridge, Va. — Almost a precursor of things to come, a project map depicting a wider U.S. 1 shows the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park being flooded and made into a retention pond sitting in a flood plain.

Holly Acres, located along Marumsco Creek in Woodbridge off U.S. 1, flooded last week not from a man-made event but did so after rains from Tropical Storm Lee inundated the region and putting the neighborhood and surrounding businesses under 10 feet of water. Nearly 100 people were forced from their homes and into a Red Cross shelter at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center.

The map, produced by the Virginia Department of Transportation in March, is featured on the transportation agency’s website for a $236 million project to widen highway from four to six lanes. But residents now reeling after their homes were condemned, they already know what their neighborhood looks like underwater.

“We want a new home. We need help from [Prince William County officials], we need help finding a new home,” said Patricia Ochoa

Ochoa and 30 to 40 other families have until Friday to find a new place to live as the Red Cross shelter they are in will close permanently. Several funds have been set up for the victims, but on Tuesday they demanded county officials keep the shelter open longer.

“We requested an extension for keeping the shelter open, all the people who lose everything will get some economic assistance, help them find a home,” said Ricardo Juarez with Mexicans Without Borders. “We’re not asking for one week or two weeks, we are asking [for officials to keep it open] until they get a new home.”

County officials say they are doing all they can to help the victims, but apparently Prince William Board Chair Corey Stewart says the federal government should step in and do more.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell declared a state of emergency after the flood waters receded, but it’s not enough to prompt an automatic federal response.

“…To my knowledge he has not yet made a request through FEMA for a federal major disaster or emergency declaration,” Connolly stated in a letter to Stewart and county officials. “Given this set of facts, it would be appropriate for Prince William County to ask Governor McDonnell to request a federal major disaster or emergency declaration,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11, Fairfax, Prince William).

Connolly also offered his help in drafting a letter to the governor asking for federal assistance for the county.

Bookshelves, Remaining Books at Borders Gone

Bargain hunters sifted through the last remaining books at Borders Books of Woodbridge final day of business on Monday.

Woodbridge, Va. — Those in the market for a used book shelf, CD rack or anything Borders Books used to market their merchandise on got a great deal Monday. All store fixtures – which were also being sold off with the rest of the remaining merchandise after the retailer filed for bankruptcy – were marked half off.

A sign in the store window at Borders on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge on Monday stated it was the final day for the store that since the early 1990’s served as one of the area’s largest book retailers, and as a place to cozy up with a cup of coffee and read.

The remaining books in the store had also been marked down to four for $1, resembling a community library book sale.

Borders was forced to close all of its stores this summer after failing to find a buyer for the struggling retail chain. Books-A-Million, which has a location inside Potomac Mills mall, voiced interest in purchasing the Woodbridge Borders but the deal fell through.

Boil Water Order Lifted

U.S. 1 in Woodbridge was under at least 10 feet of water Thursday after heavy rains led to flooding in the area. (Photo: OWL VFD)

Woodbridge, Va. — The order for some Woodbridge residents to boil their water before consuming it has been lifted.

The Prince William Service Authority issued the order Friday after flood waters devastated the Holly Acres Mobile Home Park and surrounding businesses.

Many residents were evacuated to a shelter, now located at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Rec Center, where they can stay until the shelter closes Friday, officials said.


Cash, Not Goods Wanted for Flood Victims

Flood waters inundated Holly Acres Mobile Home Park on Sept. 8, 2011, displacing at least 100 residents. (Mary Davidson/

Woodbridge, Va. — If you want to donate to the victims who lost their homes in Woodbridge during the floods you had better bring cash.

More than 300 people took refuge at a Red Cross shelter at Woodbridge Senior High School on Friday, and those still at the shelter have been moved to the nearby Sharon Baucom Dale City Rec Center.

Though people have wanted to make donations of food and clothing to the victims, officials say they can’t take those items.

Many generous people throughout Prince William County have contacted us to see how they can donate items to the flood victims. However, the residents have no place to store any donations currently. At this time we are asking citizens to refrain from donating food or clothing. We are working diligently to help connect residents with state, County and non-profit resources to meet their long term housing needs.
-Prince William spokesman Jason Grant

Grant suggested those who want to give do so by donating online.


Flood Victims Moved to Rec Center

Marumsco Mobile Home Park resident Pedro Lunacy, stands in front of his home that was destroyed when the Marumsco Creek flooded and left his neighborhood looking like a war zone. (Mary Davidson/

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Woodbridge, Va. — Due to recent flooding in our area, the Red Cross will be using the Sharon Baucom Dale City Recreation Center (SBDCRC) as an emergency shelter. The SBDCRC was closed to the public beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday. The center will be used to provide temporary housing to Prince William County residents who lost their homes during the flooding, according to a Prince William County Park Authority press release.

The SBDCRC is projected to re-open to the public on Friday, September 16 at 1 p.m. All programs, excluding the state-licensed playschool held in the Center Annex, are cancelled until the center reopens to the public. Passholders may use the Chinn Aquatic and Fitness Center or the George Mason Freedom Center for no charge while the SBDCRC is closed.

After Thursday’s flooding in Woodbridge, 300 residents were evacuated to Woodbridge Senior High School in Lake Ridge.

School officials plan to close that shelter today to prepare it for the return of students who had the day off from school Friday due to the floods.

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