Manassas set the bar with high-quality, truly local craft spirits and beer

KO Distilling

The craft beer, wine, and spirits industry has been growing in leaps and bounds.

In the last few years, two breweries and a distillery have opened in the City of Manassas. While each place offers their own unique vibe and products, two characteristics unite and set them apart from the competition – a commitment to quality and local ingredients.

“Similar to the farm-to-table movement, people are excited by the grain-to-glass concept and high-quality products made from local grains,” says Bill Karlson, the co-founder and CEO of KO Distilling. “We make a point of telling people during tours that our wheat comes from Renwood Farms in Charles City and our rye came from Bay’s Best Feed Farm in Virginia’s Northern Neck.”

KO Distilling
Heritage Brewing
KO Distilling Bottles

KO Distilling opened in September and welcomed 450 people to its grand opening. During its first week, more than 100 people stopped by to sample its whiskey and gins. The distillery is a true agribusiness – the spirits are not just made in Virginia, but the majority of the grains used are sourced from local farms.

A Nielsen study found that “local, authentic” are qualities desired of beer and spirits growing in importance among consumers, most largely among the 21-34 demographic.  Perhaps that is because today about 75% of adults over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a brewery. The Atlantic reported that there were 70 small distilleries in the U.S. in 2003. Karlson says that KO is the 19th craft distiller in an industry of about 1000 microdistillers.

Customers seek quality and want to know how ingredients are sourced, says Sarah Meyers, co-founder of Manassas’ first craft brewery BadWolf Brewing Company.

“We try to source local whenever possible and at Little BadWolf they get to see beer being made right in front of them. Given how many craft breweries are popping up, we might hit a saturation point, so you need to make sure your quality is way up there and that is our biggest focus.”

The beer made at Heritage Brewing has a 100-percent organic base and 92 percent of all ingredients are either organic or locally sourced.  Sean Arroyo, CEO of Heritage Brewing, explains, “Our approach is committing ourselves to the consistency and quality of our product and bringing the best ingredients that we can through organics and local aspects.”

This fall, Heritage is collaborating with The Bone, a barbecue spot in historic Manassas, on a bacon stout. And BadWolf is working with downtown Manassas restaurateurs on an “Old Town” Beer that will only be available in downtown establishments.

Experimenting with new creations keeps the excitement alive. Heritage, which is a 20-barrel brew house, also operates a small pilot system for making small batches of creative releases for the taproom. “It gives us a way to interact with our consumers and let them decide what our next big beers will be,” says Arroyo.

After BadWolf’s successful first year, Meyers and her business partner and husband Jeremy opened a 6,000-square foot production facility. Little BadWolf Brewing Company, the smaller, original location, is where people can try out the experimental batches and even suggest recipes, while the new Big BadWolf has space for special events and growler and kegs of their flagship brews.

“We are using our space for more than beer,” says Meyers. “We focus on giving back to charities and bringing people together for social events.” One look at BadWolf’s event calendar shows there is always something going on, including yoga, painting, and Craft Beer Bingo – all accompanied with a pint. Similarly, Heritage hosts trivia and live music nights in addition to special events like a new beer dinner series.

While all three businesses are committed to building a sense of community, they also take being a regional destination seriously. As Meyers says, “people won’t go to just a bar, but places like a brewery are something special they will seek out.”

Karlson says that he and his business partner, John O’Mara, always envisioned KO Distilling being a tourism destination by matching a great product with a great experience. “The minute visitors walk through our doors,” he says, “they know they aren’t in a warehouse anymore.”

KO Distilling’s tasting room has leather couches, a fireplace, and copper and oak design elements that mimic the copper pot still they use for distilling and barrels they use for aging. The atmosphere rewards locals as well as travelers for making the drive. Karlson, Meyers, and Arroyo all agree that Manassas, with its close proximity to I-95 and 66 and its abundance of historical sites and attractions, is an ideal location for attracting tourists from the metro area and beyond.

“What we want to do is bring in the community, produce a quality product, and have a great time doing it,” says Meyers.

Senate candidates for the 36th to debate Oct. 8






Candidates Scott Surovell and Jerry Foreman for Virginia’s 36th Senate district will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on October 8 at 7 p.m.

The candidates are hoping to fill the seat of long-time retiring incumbent Senator Toddy Puller, and will debate local issues concerning Prince William, Fairfax, and Stafford counties.

The debate will be held at the Dumfries Community Center located at 17755 Main Street in Dumfries. 

Potomac Local is sponsoring the event, in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.

The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:

— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats

Potomac Local will accept reader-submitted questions that may be asked of the candidates during the debates.

The event is open to the public.

Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the building and must be removed upon event conclusion.

Joaquin worst case: ‘Landfall around Norfolk and tracks up the Chesapeake up the Potomac River’

joaquin map wed

Hurricane Joaquin should move up the east coast this week. It could impact our area.

And whether or not we see a hurricane, we’re going to see a lot of rain.

“regardless of what happens with this storm, we are going to see five to 10 inches of rain, and that is enough that people should be paying attention,” said Prince William County Director of Emergency Preparedness Patrick Collins.

Collins had just gotten off a statewide conference call when we spoke with him Wednesday afternoon. He tells us folks at the county government are watching the storm closely.

He sent out this email to area agencies to serve as a warning, and to get people prepared for the coming storm:

Good afternoon:

We have concluded a VDEM/NWS Conference call concerning the Hurricane and they still have not nailed down the track. The worst case scenario is it makes landfall around Norfolk and tracks up the Chesapeake up the Potomac River. One thing the weather service said was they are confident that regardless of the track we can expect 5-10 inches of rain over the entire event. It will start raining tomorrow night with heavy rain Friday and Friday night and then the second period of heavy rain with the track of Joaquin. As we get further into the event the track will become clearer and we can make more specific plans.

We plan on conducting a short briefing this Friday October 2nd at 11:00am in the EOC, by then the NWS should have a better idea of what our impacts will be here in the county. In the meantime agencies should be making their normal preparations for a storm such as this. Some of the activities are listed below, but I am sure that each agency has more comprehensive checklists.

Agency Preparation:

• Fuel all vehicles
• Establish work schedules EOC/Field
• Review Plans and Policies
• Check all generators
• Stock food /water
• Remove windblown equipment such as exterior trash cans
• Advise employees to check their family plans and supplies at home
• Monitor weather and e-mails
• Check all communications equipment for readiness
• Perform any “Just-in-Time” training that is needed
• Check flashlights

The Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the storm and will send out regular updates.

Hurricane Joaquin: Cancellations and postponements in our area


Hurricane Joaquin churning in the Atlantic Ocean could have it sights set on our area.

With all the rain and wind the storm could bring (we’ll link you to the Capital Weather Gang which has more information about the storm), we’re also seeing events postponed in our area ahead of the storm.

Manassas Fall Jubilee
The Manassas Fall Jubilee that had been scheduled for Satruday will now be held Oct. 24. This is the 33rd year for the event.

First Friday Manassas
The monthly First Friday event in Downtown Manassas is still scheduled. However, streets will not be closed for the event due to inclement weather.

Youth for Tomorrow’s annual Country Fair
This event held each year in Bristow, on the grounds of Youth For Tomorrow on Hazel Circle Drive off Linton Hall Road, is canceled. The auction portion of the event will be rescheduled. Check the website for additional information.

Americans in Wartime Musuem open house

This annual event in Nokesville, scheduled to tale place Saturday October 3 and Sunday October 4, is canceled. 

Stafford United Way yard sale 

A United Way yard sale scheduled Saturday at the Stafford County Government Center is canceled. 

Brentsville Court Days

This program scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3 has been postponed until spring.

Stafford schools events canceled / postponed

The Margaret Brent Elementary Road Race, originally scheduled for Saturday,is postponed until November 8
Office of Public Information

The Moncure Elementary Clothing Sale, originally scheduled for this weekend, is postponed until October 16 and 17.

The middle school field hockey games scheduled for Friday, October 2, and Monday, October 5, are canceled and will be rescheduled at the end of the

Got a postponement or cancelation you want to tell us about? Tell us and we’ll list it in this post, just like we do with snow closings.

North Stafford High School students released early today

North Stafford High School sits on Garrisonville Road in North Stafford (Photo: Mary Davidson/


All students at North Stafford have been dismissed. 

Original post

Students at North Stafford High School are getting out early today.

An operator at the Stafford County Public Schools central office said problems with the air handling system prompted an early release for North Stafford students.

Regular bus transportation has been made available to students.

The school division Tweeted this:

Potomac Local was not able to immediately reach anyone at the school division to provide comment on the matter.

There will be music, games, and Best BBQ competition at Dumfries Fall Festival

dumfries fall festival

On October 17, 2015, the Town of Dumfries will present their 14th Annual Fall Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Garrison Park, located behind the Dumfries Town Hall.

This year there will be an emphasis on a variety of free activities for youth, to include field games, face painting, a bounce house, and two large plastic spheres that can be propelled by an occupant inside. There will also be a DJ providing a wide variety of music throughout the event, including playing songs by request.

There will be opportunities for line dancing and of course individual rock-and-rolling and dancing for those that just want to let their hair down.

In addition, there will be vendors that will provide a wide variety of items for sale during the event and others that want to provide information to the public. Food vendors will be available as well and will offer an assortment of food and drink for purchase throughout the event.

This year’s event will once again feature a BBQ Competition where several self-promoted pit masters will put their food and reputations on the line in pursuit of the award for Best BBQ at the festival.

Festival goers will be able to purchase a ticket for one dollar that will allow them to taste some BBQ from each competitor. Those that participate will then be able to cast a vote for their favorite and the overall vote will determine the winner.

Dan Taber, Town Manager, has expressed his excitement over this year’s Fall Festival and has issued a challenge for as many people as possible to attend what he expects to be the best Fall Festival ever held.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to come together and have a great time while enjoying good music, good food, good fun, and most importantly, the good company of their neighbors,” said Taber.

Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to the Fall Festival.

The Town is accepting applications for vendors and complete information is available on the Town website at

For questions please call Tiwana Barnes at (703) 221-3400, ext. 112 or through email at

What $22 million got drivers who pass through Falmouth

The Falmouth Bridge links Stafford County with Fredericksburg via U.S. 1. Drivers closest to the camera are headed south. [Photo: Uriah Kiser  / Potomac Local News]


The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Falmouth intersection will have to wait, according to a statement from the Virginia Department of Transportation: 

Due to heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, and preparations for the potential landfall of Hurricane Joaquin, the Falmouth Intersection Improvement Project Ribbon-Cutting event scheduled for Thursday, October 1 has been canceled.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Original post

The Falmouth Intersection Improvement Project is complete.

Stafford County officials will cut the ribbon the $22 million project. The intersection was widened to make room for new turn lanes and through lanes. New sidewalks were added, as well as new traffic signal equipment.

Emergency vehicles will now be able to pass through the intersection more quickly now, according to a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The intersection is where Routes 1, 17, and 218 meet just north of Fredericksburg in Falmouth. The intersection, for years, has been plagued by traffic backups at a signal light at the intersection.
Traffic is known to back up regularly at the intersection during times of heavy traffic on adjacent Interstate 95.

There was a talk of building a bypass around the intersection, just north of Falmouth in 2008, but the project never materialized.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday. The new intersection officially opens to traffic Wednesday, Sept. 30.

New landscaping will be installed at the intersection between October 15 and December 1 “when temperatures are cooler and ideal for planting,” according to VDOT.

Heavy rain possibly tonight, watching Joaquin later in the week


There’s a chance our region could see heavy rain this afternoon into the evening and overnight hours.

A low-pressure system will develop over the Virginia Highlands today, ahead of a cold front that is tracking east from the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service forecast discussion page.

That will kick off showers and thunderstorms this afternoon into the evening. There are flash flood watches issued for the mountains in western Virginia, but no immediate watches for our area right now.

Portions of western Maryland could see up to two inches of rainfall tonight and tomorrow, according to the weather service.

What to expect

Showers and possibly a few thunderstorms will develop after lunchtime today.

More showers, and possibly some thunderstorms, could develop as a larger area of rain moves in during the evening and overnight hours.

On Wednesday morning, showers and thunderstorms continue. By the afternoon, the cold front should have moved through the area leaving behind gusty winds.

On Wednesday night, there’s still a possibility of somes showers in the area.

Tropical Storm Joaquin

A newly named Tropical Storm Joaquin appeared in everyone’s newsfeeds on Monday night. The storm was packing 40 mph winds and is located west of the Bahama Islands, according to a 5 a.m. update from the National Hurrican Center.

The storm is expected to track north up the east coast. While forecasters say it’s too early to know what impact if any, the storm will have on our area, it’s worth watching.

Micron: A memory maker in Manassas

Today, people are glued to their smartphones. Hours at a time are spent in front of computers, tablets, and game consoles.

Despite this, few of us think about what makes them work. High-performance memory is the main component that makes our favorite gadgets have such cool features.

And when a computer slows down a few years after purchase, instead of buying a new one, a $50 memory upgrade can get you back up to speed in minutes. One of the biggest innovators of this powerful technology is located right in the City of Manassas.

Micron Technology is an advanced semiconductor solutions provider that designs and manufactures memory technologies. Founded in Boise, Idaho, in 1978, Micron has risen to the top of its industry.

It is the largest semiconductor manufacturer in Virginia, the only U.S.-based DRAM manufacturer, and the largest U.S.-based wafer supplier. (DRAM is the memory a computer processor needs to function. A wafer is a thin, round slice of material, usually silicon, that serves as the foundational layer on which a semiconductor is built.)

The company came to Manassas when it acquired Dominion Semiconductor in 2002. Soon after, it began investing heavily in modernizing the existing plant.

According to a study by George Mason University, Micron’s early capital investments during 2002 – 2005 totaled more than $178 million, created almost 390 jobs annually, and generated $56.5 million in new personal income to local residents. At the state level, Micron added $376.2 million in value to Virginia’s economy.

The company continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Sixteen years after it was established, Micron had already invested $300 million in expansion projects and was listed on the Fortune 500.

Today it has more than 30,000 employees across the globe and has netted $16.4 billion in sales during the last fiscal year. Manassas has been a part of this success story.

In 2010, Micron decided to invest $56 million to expand its Manassas facility to take advantage of the area’s highly skilled workforce. It built out a new “clean room” – a manufacturing environment with a low level of dust, chemical vapors, and other contaminants that is used in the semiconductor industry – in order to boost its memory chip production.

Former Lt. Governor Bill Bolling joined Micron’s executives in Manassas to announce the company’s expansion and celebrate its significant contributions to the Commonwealth and Manassas. The expansion created more than 100 new jobs. In fact, for the last five years, Micron has been the largest employer in the City of Manassas and currently employs more than 1,500 workers.

Years ago, Micron’s success caught the eye of former President George W. Bush who used the Manassas facility as the backdrop for a speech he delivered to highlight the importance of STEM education, investing in a highly skilled workforce, and being an innovator in a global marketplace. More recently, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech at this same facility to discuss the tech companies hiring veterans. She recognized Micron for doing its part to train these workers so they can compete for high-paying jobs in the technology sector.

The company is committed to giving back to the community. One of its biggest causes is STEM education and elevating students into high tech jobs.

In 2013 alone, the Micron Technology Foundation, together with Lockheed Martin, donated more than $53,000 to the Manassas City Public School Education Foundation for robotics and STEM programs. Staff members volunteer their time and mentor students through internships that sometimes evolve into full-time jobs.

As the company continues to grow and innovate – bringing smaller, more powerful and faster high-tech products to market – it continues to strengthen the City of Manassas and the regional workforce.

Roast marshmallows, play games, hayrides at Fall Family Fun Night at the Manassas Park Community Center

Fall Family Fun Night is Oct. 3

Are traditional family dinners indicative of a well-adjusted family?

Not necessarily according to a 2013 article from NPR. Journalist Alison Aubrey shares survey and research results from a variety of sources where participants agree that family meals are important but nearly half of the respondents don’t have regular family meals.

That finding is completely reasonable. With work schedules evolving from the usual nine to five, and children’s extracurricular activities becoming increasingly important, it’s hard to find even a moment when all the family members are in the house at the same time.

What exactly constitutes a family dinner? For some families, it appears that the traditional definition of everyone at the table every night having a family conversation may not be the only option.

Depending on schedules, some families may still have dinner together with the absence of a few members. Other families set aside a special weekend dinner once a week.

Flexibility also seems to be important as, according to the article, about 25% of the respondents have distractions during dinner time including TV or mobile devices.

Is the act of simply being together, eating together enough? Some families argue that it’s important time to catch up and relax together so no distractions are allowed.

Other families may feel that avoiding rushed dinners and awkward conversation are worth the occasional distractions and may even encourage dialogue.

The important point is that each family feels comfortable with tailoring their family dinner to their family’s needs and not hold themselves to an unattainable standard.

However, family dinner is not the only opportunity to strengthen bonds. Any special time spent together such as family vacations and attending events can be beneficial and possibly easier to coordinate.

One example would be the Fall Family Fun Night at the Manassas Park Community Center. Roasting marshmallows, playing games, and hopping on hayrides are all scheduled activities and all provide unique opportunities for reinforcing family relationships.

The event is only $10.00 per family and must register in advance. This can be done online or in person at the community center.

Attending special events also allows families in a community to connect together. Neighbors can share stories and exchange ideas on how they strengthen their family bonds. Plus having family friends can provide additional opportunities for family time. Play dates, game nights and planned outings with family friends can motivate family members to find time to participate.

With evidence showing that quality family time has a lasting beneficial effect on families such as emotional stability, there is a reason to make it a point to spend time together.

It can come in the form of a family dinner but it’s no longer the only option.

Choosing activities that are convenient for your family makes quality time achievable and, therefore, more likely to motivate family members to come together.

False: Most high-quality olive oil comes from Italy


Olive oil. We all have a bottle in our pantry. But can you cook with it?

Is first cold press the best olive oil you can get?

I’m Cameron, co-owner of Manassas Olive Oil Company, and I’m going to breakdown some common myths about this kitchen staple.

Myth 1: You can’t cook with olive oil

Status: False

This misconception stems from olive oil smoking or breaking down at low temperatures.
Olive oil only has a low smoke point if it has a high quantity of free fatty acids (FFAs). High levels of FFAs – which have been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes – indicate poor quality or old olive oil.

All the olive oil we carry at Manassas Olive Oil Company has less than 0.2% free fatty acid content – meaning it won’t smoke until at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

As far as withstanding heat – all types of oil break down when heat is applied.

Inexpensive oils – such as canola oil – form toxic byproducts like aldehydes when heated. But when olive oil is heated, it’s some of the antioxidants will break down instead, ‘sacrificing’ themselves and prevent toxic chemicals from being produced by the oil. Look for a high polyphenol (antioxidant) content when purchasing olive oil for high temperature cooking.

Myth 2: First cold press is the best olive oil

Status: Partially True

First, cold pressing is a requirement to produce extra virgin olive oil, but it is somewhat of a misnomer. Cold pressing refers to any olive oil pressed below 80 degrees Fahrenheit and without the addition of chemicals.

As for second press – that has become a thing of the past. Historically, olives were quite literally pressed with huge stones, with the first press extracting the best oil, and subsequent presses extracting lower quality oil.

The olive press has been replaced by a malaxer (horizontal mixer) and centrifuge which pulverize olives, and extract almost all of the oil from them. This method is so efficient, only 5% of oil gets left behind on this ‘first press.”
This leftover oil is must be chemically extracted, and is referred to as “pomace oil.” Pomace oil cannot be sold or labeled as “olive oil’ – nor is it good to consume.

Generally speaking, all commercial olive oil will come from the first press. But be advised – even poor quality olive oil can come from the first cold press.

Myth 3: Most high-quality olive oil comes from Italy

Status: Mostly False

According to a study done by the International Olive Council, Spain produces 40% of the world’s olive oil – or about the same amount as Italy and Greece combined.

So where does the best oil come from? That’s a complicated equation.

Great olive oil is a lot like wine – it depends on the cultivar of olive you’re getting, what kind of conditions it grew in, and how the pressing was handled. Even oils from the same grove will vary year to year.

You should try different varieties of oil. Much like different wine grapes produce different wines, different types of olives will also produce different flavor profiles of oil.

Currently, six different types of extra virgin olive oil are available to taste at Manassas Olive Oil Company.

Have more questions about olive oil, or are interested in learning more? Visit our shop located in downtown Manassas, at 9406 Grant Avenue. We are more than happy to share our knowledge.

Public info session scheduled for I-95 Stafford Courthouse Road interchange


The public is invited to learn more about upcoming Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) road improvements in the Courthouse Road area of Stafford County on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

A design public hearing will be held on the proposed Interstate 95/Courthouse Road Interchange Relocation project. This project would reconstruct the existing interchange at Exit 140 as a diverging diamond interchange (DDI). The intersection of Courthouse Road and Route 1 would be moved south to align with Hospital Center Boulevard.

At the same time, VDOT will hold a citizen information meeting on the Courthouse Road widening project. Courthouse Road will be widened from two lanes to four lanes west of I-95, between Cedar Lane and Ramoth Church Road/Winding Creek Road. VDOT is holding an information meeting to update the public on its status.

The design public hearing and citizen information meeting will be held together:

Tuesday, Sept. 29
5-8 p.m.
Colonial Forge High School
550 Courthouse Road
Stafford, VA 22554
A brief presentation will be delivered at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
The meeting will be an open house format. Stop by anytime between 5-8 p.m. to review project maps and ask questions. Staff will be available to answer questions and address concerns.

Public comment

Written or oral comments may be submitted at the design public hearing on the proposed I-95/Courthouse Road Interchange Relocation project.

After the hearing, comments will be accepted through close of business on Oct. 15, 2015. Comments can be emailed to VDOT at fredericksburginfo@VDOT.Virginia.Gov with “I95/Route 630 Interchange Project” in the subject line.

Comments may be mailed to:

Ms. Michelle Shropshire
Project Manager
Virginia Department of Transportation
87 Deacon Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Mailed comments must be postmarked no later than Oct. 15, 2015.

Occoquan District Boy Scouts Need Your Help

occoquan boy scouts

Have you ever wanted to get more involved in the community, but we unsure how?

The Occoquan District Boy Scouts – with scouts from Woodbridge, Lake Ridge, Dumfries and Montclair – need individuals to serve on committees for the group’s board.

This is a great chance to serve your community, and help out a worthy non-profit organization that mentors our youth.

There are currently vacancies for:

District Vice Chair

Membership Committee – New Unit Coordinator

Finance Committee – Vice-Chair Finance, FOS-Community Coordinator, Popcorn Kernel

Programs – Vice-Chair Programs, Cub Scout Advancement, Boy Scout Advancement, Recognition Dinner Coordinator Co-Chair, Activities Chair, Pinewood Derby Coordinator, Cub Scout Training Chair, Volunteer Coordinator

Marketing CommitteeVice Chair Marketing, District Newsletter Coordinator, Public Relations Coordinator 

If you are interested in working with the Boy Scouts, and would like to take on one of these important positions, please contact Ben Hazekamp at 608-751-9840.

This post is sponsored by Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire.

I-95 EZ-Pass reversible lanes changes for Pope visit


Pope Francis’ arrival in Washington this week will prompt changes to the Interstate 95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes. 

Here’s what they told us: 

Pope Francis will be arriving in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, Tuesday, September 22, with a parade taking place on Wednesday, September 23.  Heavy travel is to be expected in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., especially in the I-95 corridor. 

As such, we are adjusting the 95 Express Lanes lane reversal schedule on Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24, to make it easier for drivers to travel to and from the District.  Please find the updated reversal schedule below:

  • Tuesday, September 22:  No changes to reversal time.  The reversal from northbound (NB) to southbound (SB) will begin around 11 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 1 p.m.  

  • Wednesday, September 23: The reversal from NB to SB will begin around 10 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 12 p.m.

  • Thursday, September 24: The reversal from NB to SB will begin around 10 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 12 p.m.

  • Friday, September 25:  No changes to reversal time.  The reversal from northbound (NB) to southbound (SB) will begin around 11 a.m. with the SB lanes open around 1 p.m.  

During the work week, the reversal from northbound to southbound usually begins around 11 a.m. with the southbound lanes open around 1 p.m.

Virginia Railway Express running regular service during Pope visit

121212 VRE

When Pope Francis visits Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, you won’t be able to get there by OmniRide bus.

You can ride Virginia Railway Express, however. Virginia’s only commuter rail service will provide service Wednesday, Sept. 23 and 24, 2015, just as it would any other weekday. VRE will adjust its morning and afternoon trains to accommodate early demand.

Here’s more in a press release:

VRE is coordinating with local officials and law enforcement as there are several events scheduled that will likely result in extreme congestion directly affecting roads and public transportation. Due to anticipated congestion at the stations and heightened security, VRE trains could experience delays, especially closer to the downtown DC area.

With the expected increase in ridership during Pope Francis’s visit, VRE encourages riders to arrive at stations early and utilize the VRE Mobile app to purchase and validate tickets, as there could be long lines at ticket vending machines. To learn about purchasing tickets on your smartphone, please go to

VRE will have staff on-hand at key stations to assist riders.

Riders can visit or call (703) 684-1001 to obtain schedule, service, fare and station information.

OmniRide buses from Prince William County will not take riders to portions of Northern Virginia or into Washington on Wednesday, September 24. Instead, OmniRide riders from eastern Prince William County will be dropped at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station on the Blue line, and riders from western Prince William will be dropped at the Tysons Corner Metro station on the Silver line.

Delicious Downtown: Manassas Restaurant Week returns

raw bar, Manassas, virginia

Foodies have a great reason to get excited about fall!

September marks the return of Historic Manassas Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week is a tourism and marketing promotion celebrated throughout the U.S. to help bring in new customers and grow local businesses. Local restaurants feature their cuisine and offer a multi-course tasting experience for a special price.

Historic Manassas Inc. produces this event to showcase the City’s exciting culinary scene and encourage people to visit downtown businesses. Diners can try out places where they haven’t yet dined and regulars can score a great deal at their local favorites. Most Restaurant Week promotions are two courses for $25 or three courses for $35 and the specials run September 20 – 26.

Philly Tavern
The Bone
CJ Finz

Insider’s Scoop on Restaurant Week Specials

Carmello’s (9108 Center Street) brings seasonal fine dining and an award-winning wine list to Historic Manassas. Their Restaurant Week dinner for $35 will offer a choice of a chopped house or caesar salad to start; a choice of gnocchi con carne, veal Napolitano, or marinated pork chops for an entrée; and either crème brule or chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert.

C.J. Finz Raw Bar & Grille (9413 West Street) is the City’s surf and turf destination. They have a fantastic deal that starts with your choice of a pint of beer or wine and is followed by a half-dozen shucked oysters or a half-pound of spiced shrimp. Your meal continues with your choice of several sandwiches, including a lobster roll, fried oyster po’boy, tuna tacos, salmon BLT, as well as non-fishy options like rib-eye steak, grilled chicken, or a burger on pretzel roll.

City Square Café (9428 Battle Street), where many enjoy artisan charcuterie and cheese boards, will entice diners with a choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $35 during dinner. For $48, you can indulge on a wine pairing with your meal.

El Cactus (9406 Battle Street) offers fresh Tex-Mex favorites. During Restaurant Week, two can dine for $36. Pick one of five different appetizers to share, including the Manassas Soup Bowl-winning chicken tortilla soup. Entrees on special include carne asada, smoking fajitas, mole salmon, shrimp-topped tilapia, honey roasted cilantro chicken, and sweet honey salmon salad. Dessert features churros or the Taste of Manassas-winning tres leches.  

Mackey’s (9412 Main Street), an American pub, is home to bourbon-glazed, “drunken” meats from the grill as well as plenty of “pub grub” favorites. They are offering an appetizer and entrée combo for $25.

Monza (9405 Battle Street) is where you can enjoy live music on the weekends and your favorite team on the big screens. They will be offering a choice of bruschetta, mozzarella sticks, arancini, or fried calamari for an appetizer and a choice of chicken picatta or pan-seared Atlantic salmon for an entrée for $25.

Okra’s (9110 Center Street) brings a taste of New Orleans to Manassas. This Cajun Creole favorite will feature a different dinner special each day of Restaurant Week. Swing by to see what the day’s special entrée will be and enjoy it with the choice of an appetizer and dessert for $35 during dinner. 

Philadelphia Tavern (9413 Main Street) offers authentic Philly fare and boasts hoagie rolls that come straight from Amoroso Bakery. Grab a pal and enjoy two of their famous cheese steaks and two draught beers for $25 during both lunch and dinner.

The Bone (9420 Battle Street) is downtown’s home for smoky barbecue and hand-picked craft beers. Come by for a two-meat combo platter with Banana Puddin’ Pie for dessert and a local craft beer for $25. Choose from pork, brisket, turkey, chicken, or ribs and pair it with two sides and bread.

Note: The full menus at every restaurant will still be available in addition to the Restaurant Week special menu items, deals, and pricing.

Reduce, reuse, repair: How yard sales can make our community a greener place

Manassas Park community center yard sale 1

When it comes to exploring options to improve our personal impact on the environment the old adage, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” rings as true as when it was first heard in kindergarten.

Looking from the outside, one might not make the connection on how the three R’s apply to yard sales. The R’s are indeed there having an impact even if it is simple or subtle.

The greatest impact one can have when going green is to reduce.  Typically this means that one should avoid purchasing new items or reduce consuming resources like water or electricity.

Another perspective is to reduce clutter within the home. Clearing out unused appliances, for example, means fewer items plugged into power strips slowly using energy.

Even turned off appliances can still be using energy to run background tasks or maintain WiFi connectivity. A half-empty chest freezer, a TV that is never used or a treadmill bought with the best of intentions can all be slowly consuming energy without providing any real benefit.

Reduce their impact by clearing them out!

Manassas Park Community Center: Yard sales great for community!
Manassas Park Community Center: Yard sales great for community!
Manassas Park Community Center: Yard sales great for community!
Manassas Park Community Center: Yard sales great for community!

Clearing out is just the first step. Now the question becomes what to do with it. Properly disposing of the item is an option.

For example, there are facilities and services that take electronics like computers to break down for their components. Another option is to reuse it! The more items kept out of landfills; the healthier our environment becomes.

Reusing also reduces the pressure to gather new materials and harvest new resources. A great place to see reusing in action is at a yard sale. If somebody is looking for a chest freezer to store their bulk purchased frozen foods then a yard sale vendor selling their underutilized chest freezer is a perfect match!

The vendor makes a little money, the purchaser gets an item they were seeking for a discount and less pressure is applied to the environment.
That’s a win all the way around.

Sometimes an item is in disrepair or functions poorly. The piece overall is still in good shape, but perhaps there’s a tear in the fabric of a chair.

The handier people in our community can reach out and enact the third R – recycle. Suggesting somebody reupholstering a chair is the same as recycling may be a bit of a stretch but all one has to do is look at the myriad of Pinterest projects to see how well reusing and recycling go hand in hand.

Maybe for the purposes of this article the third R should be repair. The underlying fact still remains true: The less pressure that is put on the environment to supply brand new items the greener it will be for future generations.

Come see how you can apply the three R’s at the upcoming yard sale at the Manassas Park Community Center on September 19th from 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Will you be a vendor reducing the clutter in your home?

Perhaps you’ll be a shopper looking to reuse, recycle and repair? Whichever role you assume, hopefully from now on you’ll look at yard sales with green tinted lenses.

This promoted post is written by Jason Shriner, at the Manassas Park Community Center.

Stafford family robbed at gunpoint outside home


A family was robbed at gunpoint on Saturday, Sept. 5.

The victims — a mother, father, and three children — had just returned from dinner to their home on Bertram Boulevard in the Vista Woods section of Stafford County. It was dark outside, and the father was trying to fit his key into a front door when a man appeared and put a rifle in the face of the two adults, said Stafford sheriff’s office spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The male victim told the man to leave, and he did but not before making off with the woman’s purse valued at $230. The robber fled the scene and was spotted getting into a foreign-made vehicle at the intersection of Bertram Boulevard and Buck Road.

The robber is said to be black, wearing a white tank top, blue jean shorts, and a bandanna over his face, said Kennedy.

A look at the new Stafford High School


Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School
Stafford High School

School is starting for students at the new Stafford High School on Monday.

Potomac Local got a tour of the new facility from Felix Addo, a school administrator, and Valerie Cottongim, a spokeswoman for Stafford County Public Schools.

The high school was originally slated to open on September 8, with all other Stafford public schools, but due to construction delays, the school’s opening date was moved to September 14.

Many areas in the school were completed and given temporary occupancy, but when Potomac Local toured the school, areas including the cafeteria were not yet completed.

The three-level building is colored coded with the school’s colors – blue, yellow and white – as a way to help students quickly recognize what area of the school they’re in, according to Cottongim.

Small alcoves are located on each floor for teachers to use for recreation and group work. And there are several career and technical related facilities on-site, including a culinary area, a photography dark room, a newsroom, an emergency services room and an automotive shop.

One big difference between the old and new facility is the usage of classroom space, according to Cottongim.

“One of the ways to make better use of the classrooms and ensure that classrooms are being used every block or every period, is that every teacher will have a space in a teacher planning area. So for the periods that they don’t have a class to teach, they can come in and work on planning, meet with their students, meet with their peers,” Cottongim said.

Potomac Local spoke with several teachers at Stafford High School that were preparing their classrooms, including James Andrews – an English teacher starting his 50th year at the school – and Judy Rossi, a chemistry teacher and science department chair.

Rossi stated that there were several upgrades in her science classrooms at the new high school.

“It’s really nice to have the added safety feature with the hood, where I can work on the backside and the kids can still view it on the front side,” said Rossi.

One concern that some students and parents had, was what would be done about the week delay for the Stafford High School students.

“We won’t tack on the extra week at the end. What we will do is see if we have any options for making up the time – whether it’s a waiver from the state. It might involve, if we have to make up the time, adding time at the beginning of the day in the first semester…if we have a nice, mild winter we already have built in time we can use for that,” said Cottongim.

And more features could be added to the site in the future, including an outdoor rooftop science lab, according to Cottongim.

Come to Williams Ordinary in Dumfries September 12 & 13 for history, artillery demonstations, food, and beer

williams ordinary

How many times have hopped off Interstate 95 south and taken Route 1 through Dumfries? 

Have you ever noticed that just after the median splits in two, a large brick building rises on your right – so close to the road it looks like it’s going to jump in front of you? 

That’s the headquarters for Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division – and if you’ve ever wanted to learn more or take a peek inside, stop by on September 12 and 13.

For those two days the Williams Ordinary will reemerge as a busting stop it was in the 18th century. The building has seen a lot of change – built by John Glassford and Company in the mid 1760’s the structure was a popular store through the Revolutionary War.  

George Washington stopped at “the storehouse” in Dumfries to resupply on his way to victory at Yorktown at the end of the war. Just a few years after the war the building would become a Ordinary, or tavern, providing food, drink, and a place to lodge for people passing through area.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 12 and 13 you’ll find William’s Ordinary and the nearby Weems-Botts House a bustle of people that would have passed through here during its early history. 

Infantry, artillery, medical and cooking demonstrations will be on the two sites. At the Ordinary you can stop inside the recreated tavern room and meet George Washington, our Tavern keeper Alexander Henderson, or any number of other characters from our past.  

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Author John R. Mass will be discussing his latest book “The Road to Yorktown.”

Don’t miss the one of a kind event after the sun goes down on September 12; join us at the Ordinary for historic beer, appetizers, and live music for a chance to get a taste of the 18th century. 

Call 703-792-4754 to make your reservations – just $35 per person.

Parking is available at Dumfries Elementary School for both the day and evening events, with shuttle service to Williams Ordinary, located at 17674 Main Street, Dumfries, VA 22026

Olsen: ‘Will not seek the death penalty’ in FBI employee murder case


The Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Eric Olsen, has decided not to seek the death penalty in the case against Antoine Johnson.

Antoine Johnson – a 26-year old Maryland man – was originally charged with first degree murder of 29-year old Stafford resident and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) police officer Jeremy Brown.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office stated that the fatal shooting took place on the morning of April 27 at a home on Clint Lane.

More on the incident from a Stafford sheriff’s release, dating back to April 2015:

Officer Brown, a police officer with the FBI Police, was leaving his residence at 5:01 this morning, in uniform, when he was confronted by Antoine Johnson. Officer Brown and Antoine Johnson knew each other. Gun shots were exchanged during the confrontation and Officer Brown was killed. Stafford deputies responded immediately and were able to get a description of Johnson as well as the vehicle he was driving from witnesses in the neighborhood. The reason for the confrontation is part of the ongoing investigation.

According to a release from the Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Johnson’s charge has been upgraded to ‘Capital Murder’ stating that allegedly the murder was committed during an attempted robbery.

Olsen stated in a release that he has decided to not seek the death penalty in this case after considering all of the factors, and speaking with Brown’s family. According to Olsen, if Johnson is convicted, he will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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