E-ZPass Express Lanes to be extended south at Stafford, north to D.C.


The E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 will be extended in Stafford County, and to Washington, D.C.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today in a press release that the express lanes in Stafford County would be extended two miles past Garrisonville Road. Two lanes will merge into one, and drivers will be able to continue past today’s final exit point at Garrisonville Road.

Drivers in the Express Lanes regularly sit in congestion at the terminus of the lanes in Stafford County. Those who don’t exit at Garrisonville Road will exit the lanes two miles south into the left travel lane of I-95, much like old traffic pattern at Dumfries before the December 2014 opening of the E-ZPass Express Lanes.

A right exit and flyover were built at Garrisonville Road so traffic exiting the Express Lanes could reenter mainline I-95 traffic into the right lane, not the left. Transit officials before the Express Lanes opening blamed heavy bottleneck traffic at Dumfries, in part on the left exiting – entering traffic pattern that existed there at the time.

The left exiting – entering ramp was closed, and a new right exit-enter ramp was built just before Joplin Road at Quantico.

Here are the full details on the governor’s plan for the Stafford terminus:

I-95 Express Lanes Southern Terminus
The project will extend 95 Express Lanes by approximately 2 miles past the point where the current flyover carries southbound traffic to Exit 143/Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. A single reversible lane would be built, eventually splitting into northbound and southbound merge ramps.

Southbound traffic in 95 Express Lanes will be able to continue driving past Exit 143 at Garrisonville Road. Southbound traffic will merge back into the mainline I-95 southbound lanes approximately 1,500 feet beyond the Garrisonville Road on-ramp to I-95 southbound. Traffic will merge into the left lane of I-95. This spacing will balance local and express lanes traffic entering I-95 southbound.

Northbound traffic can enter the 95 Express Lanes sooner. The new northbound entrance will be located approximately 1,000 ft. before the I-95 northbound off-ramp at Exit 143 to Route 1 at Aquia. Northbound traffic will merge into express lanes from the left lane.

Construction is estimated to begin in 2016 and take two years to complete. Work will primarily take place within the median and within the existing right-of-way. No personal or business property should be affected.

The Express Lanes carry drivers north toward Washington, D.C. in the mornings. The Express Lanes currently end at just before Duke Street in Alexandria. Single paying drivers must exit the lanes in the mornings, but vehicles with three one more occupants may continue using the HOV lanes to get to the 14th Street Bridge in Washington. These lanes are the last vestige of the old HOV system that spanned between Dumfries and the Pentagon.

All drivers who use the E-ZPass Express Lanes must have an electronic E-ZPass transponder in their vehicle. Single drivers pay a toll, and vehicles with three or more occupants in the car ride free with the E-ZPass.

Arlington County officials in the latter part of the last decade protested the conversion of HOV lanes to toll lanes by saying the lanes would mean more drivers would moving through the county, and more pollution from cars.

Then Virginia Transportation Secretary and former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton struck a deal with the county, and private toll road operator Transurban to build the lanes as far north as Turkeycock Run, just before Duke Street in Alexandria.

Here’s the governor’s plan for the northbound extension:

I-395 Express Lanes Extension

The project will extend the 395 Express Lanes for eight miles north to the DC line. The project will convert and expand the existing HOV lanes on I-395 from Turkeycock Run north to the district to dynamically tolled express lanes.

An additional express lane will be built, providing three express lanes in the corridor.

There will be dedicated funding for new and enhanced transit services and carpooling incentives.

The work will be done by Transurban under the existing contract it has with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the extended lanes opening to traffic in 2019.

Vehicles with three or more people will continue to use the express lanes for free. Solo drivers will have the choice to take general purpose lanes for free or use the express lanes for a variable toll.

Come for the Manassas Christmas parade, stay for lunch and learn why historic Santa wears red, white, and blue

harpers santa

On Saturday, December 5, Manassas will host its annual Christmas Parade in Downtown.

Why not make a day of it and come have lunch with Santa Claus at the Old Manassas Courthouse located at 9248 Lee Avenue in Manassas, at the corner of Lee and Grant avenues. He’ll be once again dusting off that old patriotic suit of red, white, and blue for his visit.

The suit, which resembles our nation’s flag was created by famed German Born cartoonist Thomas Nast and first appeared in Harper’s Weekly on January 3, 1863 and was used as a recruiting piece for the northern war effort during the Civil War.

Santa was illustrated giving Christmas gifts to soldiers outside Fredericksburg, and was meant to soften the blow suffered by the Federal Army under General Ambrose Burnside earlier in December of 1862.

The menu will consist of oven roasted turkey, honey baked ham, home-style mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, freshly cut bacon herbed green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, giant cookies, and freshly baked pumpkin pie.

Beverages will include spiced apple cider, freshly brewed coffee, and hot chocolate. After lunch, bring your camera for a picture with Santa and an opportunity to discuss your Christmas list with him.

Then make an authentic 19th Century Christmas decoration to take home. Participants are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots.

The cost is $20 per person ages 11 and up, and $10 for children 10 and younger. Lunch will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Ball Room.

Elevator access is available to those who need it. For more information or to make a reservation please contact the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division at (703) 792-4754.

European Wax Center in Manassas makes guests look and feel beautiful

European Wax Center in Manassas

European Wax Center opened in June at Bull Run Plaza in Manassas.

Ron Whidby, the franchise owner of the location, said European Wax Center in Manassas offers its guests a unique experience that stands out from the competition, and they strive to make guests look and feel beautiful.

“We provide an upbeat, friendly atmosphere. Our guests enjoy a personalized experience from the time they enter our doors. Our guest service coordinators greet you as soon as you arrive. We offer a private room with your licensed professional, whom we call Wax Specialists or Skin Care Specialists,” said Whidby.

European Wax Center in Manassas uses its own exclusive wax, called Comfort Wax that is shipped from Paris. The wax is applied at a lukewarm temperature, and there are no strips needed to remove the wax because it is a hard wax, meaning the wax hardens and is removed without strips, quickly and effortlessly. It’s ideal for sensitive skin and is unlike the traditional soft wax, which can cause irritations to the skin. Other places may use a hard wax like European Wax Center, but Whidby says that it’s not the same.

“A lot of the Wax Specialists can’t believe how well our wax works compared to other hard waxes they’ve used in the past,” said Whidby. The high-quality of the wax and materials used at European Wax Center is enough for guests to make return visits. Men and women, from a variety of ages, often visit the center.

“For women, the number one service is the bikini wax,” Whidby said. “Men typically get a back or shoulder wax.”

Unlike other spas, European Wax Center in Manassas only provides waxing services. “Our Wax Specialists focus on waxing all day long so they master the techniques needed to complete a service effectively and efficiently.  We are the experts in waxing, because that is all that we do. Most services are scheduled for 15 minutes, which allows many guests to come in for their waxing on a lunch break. They are in and out before their breaks are over,” said Whidby.

What else keeps guests coming back? It’s the luxury feel and setting of European Wax Center.

European Wax Center in Manassas
European Wax Center in Manassas
European Wax Center in Manassas
European Wax Center in Manassas

“When they walk past the glass door and into their wax suite, it’s a setting unlike anything else,” said Whidby. Guests are greeted by their Wax Specialist who will guide them back to their wax suite. Along the way guests see beautiful brick archways as soon as they enter the hallway.

“It’s eye-catching and that’s when we get that ‘wow,'” said Whidby.

All of the Wax Specialists who work with European Wax Center in Manassas are state licensed and have graduated from esthetic or cosmetology schools. They are also required to complete an in-house training that ensures each Wax Specialist is providing the same level of excellent service to guests.

“We do more than just wax or remove unwanted hair; we reveal the natural, beautiful skin that remains. We educate our guests on proper skin care before and after their waxing,” said Whidby.

The Wax Specialists educate guests about how to hydrate their skin to prevent drying, and which products from European Wax Center’s exclusive product line they can able use so they can have better results as they continue to wax.

As part of the overall service, Wax Specialists educate guests on their exclusive four-step process, which prepares the skin before and after service, to make the waxing experience as comfortable as possible.

European Wax Center believes in the services provided, that a free service is offered to all new guests. “As long as you are a Virginia resident, we give a complimentary wax to first-time guests of European Wax Center,” said Whidby.

“We want our guests to try the products and services we have to offer. Women can get a complimentary eyebrow, underarm, or bikini line wax, or can upgrade to a Brazilian bikini wax for half-off the regular price. Men can get a free eyebrow, ear, or nose wax for their first visit.”

Packages are also offered to discount the price of services.

“For some services we have our unlimited wax pass where you can come in as often as you’d like for one year for that service,” said Whidby.  These passes are only available for the eyebrow, underarm, and bikini waxes.

The pre-paid wax pass allows guests to buy nine of the same service, and get three free where guests can save up to twenty-five percent off of their services. These passes are available for all of the services offered and the visits never expire, so guests have the flexibility to use their visits according to their own schedule.

“So for our regular guests that know they’re coming frequently, there are ways for them to save instead of paying full price every time,” said Whidby.

Leave the stress of the season behind! Shop Small in the City of Manassas



Shop for olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items

When it comes to holiday shopping, you can choose between two completely different experiences next week.

On Black Friday, you can rise before the sun and get ready to fight frenzied crowds. You can endure long lines as you frantically attempt to snag limited-time, mega deals on big-ticket items.

Or, on Small Business Saturday, you can instead enjoy a leisurely day browsing independently owned businesses, discovering unique gifts and specialty items, enjoying attentive customer service, and sitting down for a relaxing meal with friends and family.

There are many independently owned shops across the City of Manassas where fantastic, one-of-a-kind gifts are waiting for you on Saturday, November. 28.

In Historic Downtown Manassas, retailers will open early at 9 a.m. to welcome shoppers through their doors. You can park once and stroll for hours while finding something for everyone.  To get an idea of the wide range of retailers in the downtown, take a look at’s merchant directory.

Explore specialty boutiques that offer premium food from wine to olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items. Leave the stress of the season behind! In between your purchases, pick up a warm beverage, take a spin around the ice-skating rink at the Harris Pavilion, and enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the independently owned restaurants.

If you have history buffs on your list, there is no better place to visit than Echoes, the Manassas Museum shop. It features a wide array of merchandise that celebrates local history and culture. From children’s toys to Civil War collectibles to souvenirs – you will find many distinctive presents here that are not available elsewhere.

For shoppers pressed for time, a drive along Liberia Avenue to The Shops at Signal Hill, the Fairview Shopping Center, and the Davis Ford Crossing Shopping Center will offer you the convenience of running errands, buying groceries, and shopping “small.”

Discoveries here will delight the people on your list who hard to shop for. You can find gifts for antique seekers, archers, coin and military memorabilia collectors, art enthusiasts, cyclists, foodies, and cigar connoisseurs. And, you can save time by not cooking and stopping into one of the ethnic eateries or your other local favorites here.

If you are cruising down Centreville Road, don’t miss stopping into one of the antique shops that could very well have that rare piece you have been looking for. There are also several niche boutiques that can satisfy very specific wish lists – like bowling supplies, dancewear, signature pieces of jewelry, and vinyl records.

The desire to “buy local” has been growing in popularity over the years. American Express, the force behind Small Business Saturday, estimates that shoppers spent a total of $14.3 billion at independent businesses in 2014. This spending significantly impacts a community. Studies have shown that for every $100 that is spent at an independently owned business, approximately $45 is re-spent in the local community. This is often because those business owners live locally and recirculate their earnings back into their hometowns, conduct business with other local establishments, make charitable donations, and put local employees on their payrolls.

On the flip side, for every $100 spent at a national chain business, only approximately $14 goes back to the local community.

For shoppers who love spending time at independent businesses, shifting a portion of their holiday dollars will make a difference in supporting their community and their favorite merchants. Show your love for your favorite shops and choose Small Business Saturday next week!

Flexible. Comforting. Helpful. What it takes to be an in-home Care Giver

Senior care giver

It can take weeks for someone to get used to being cared for inside of their home.

The needs of seniors can change from week to week, or instantly. Marcus Evans, a Care Giver at Home Instead Senior Care in Manassas, makes it his job to know his client’s needs and to make them feel right at home. A typical day for Evans consists of starting the day early and meeting with clients, many of whom he considers his friends.

“I grow very attached to people when I take care of them,” said Evans, “and it’s something that’s personal for me.”

Knowing the needs of the client

Evans reviews his schedule for that particular day so that he knows what client he is meeting what time he needs to be there. Evans arrives at the house often earlier than he is scheduled so that he can provide extra help.

“I think it’s a relief for them when I arrive,” said Evans, “because they’re just so used to not having helped or anyone around the house.” Evans introduces himself and evaluates the client’s Plan of Care, a guide that tells Evans what he needs to do for that client including small projects.

“It can be anything. Sometimes it’d be something as simple as putting in a light bulb that they couldn’t reach, or sometimes it might be helping them take a shower,” said Evans.

Each individual Plan of Care that Evans evaluates for his clients may differ. He works with some clients in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings.

“For my clients, sometimes they’ll need help with getting dressed in the morning, making sure they’re brushing their teeth, hair is washed and everything like that,” said Evans. “Getting out of bed. Sometimes they may need a change if they are incontinent. They may need breakfast made. The house to be tidied up and things like that.”

Clients also have to feel welcomed and comforted.

“Now if it’s an afternoon client, I might need to come in, and I’ll make lunch and help them run errands or something like that,” said Evans. An evening patient they’ll need probably dinner and they’ll need me to tuck them in… make sure the house is straight… make sure their bed is nicely and neatly done and things like that.”

Properly dispensing medication also falls under Evans’ duties. Meeting client needs Patience is “crucial” in the field of caregiving.

“If you’re not patient, people are going to sense it,” said Evans, “They’re going to be very closed off, and they’re not going to be inviting and warm.”

Willingness to adapt 

As clients’ needs changes over time, Care Giver s must adapt. Changes can happen in a matter of hours, daily, weekly or monthly. “You have to hang in there. You have to be willing to adapt and accept change,” said Evans.

“That’s why I think that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this field because they’re not used to adapting on the fly as they would with a normal job where you just go in, and you clock in and you do the same thing every day.”

Evans says that it may take up to a few days, a few weeks, or even a month before a client is completely comfortable with someone taking care of them inside of their home. In most cases, Evans’ clients have never needed extra help or someone taking care of their every need.

“Sometimes they’ll verbalize in it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a look where it’s just like they’re smiling and I can tell at that moment they’re really happy with this. They’re really happy to have this help,” said Evans.

A rewarding career

Evans is Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, providing care for three years. He chose to work at Home Instead after working multiple types of jobs, but none seemed to be the perfect fit. It was while Evans was at a trade school that he was introduced to the field of medical assisting.

“The first class I took I was drawn to it immediately and I was like ‘I want to do this from now on,'” Evans said.

He achieved a certification in medical assisting and began searching for jobs in his field. However, Evans wanted a more personal type of relationship with patients that he felt he couldn’t get working at a doctor’s office. It was Evans’ mother that recommended him to Home Instead.

“I felt good. I felt like I’m really doing something that’s important for this guy because there was no one else with him and I was the only one there,” said Evans, about working with his first client. “…I felt like I was representing something good in his life that could be of service and help to him.”

Evans was named Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead and described the honor as both “overwhelming” and “unexpected”. Home Instead contacted Evans’ former clients and their families who gave glowing recommendations about Evans’ service and then interviewed Evans for the honor.

“To hear that I’m being esteemed in this way it blows me away…it was unbelievable to think that me just doing what I like doing people are going to recognize me in this way just for doing my job really,” said Evans.

Home Instead Senior Care provides in-home care to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

How you can open your home to a cultural exchange student

Cox family 1

Interested in hosting international high school students? Want to share a piece of American culture with your student and learn from your student’s culture?

Since 1951, Youth for Understanding (YFU) has been hosting students in the U.S. and sending students abroad for cross cultural exchange. YFU hosts thousands of international students from around 70 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia every year. 

Christina Cox is a local elementary school teacher in Northern Virginia and spoke about her and her family’s experiences hosting international students and why you should too. 


1. What made you decide to begin hosting international students? 

I was approached at work by a co-worker that said her son’s high school was looking for volunteers to host. My sister was [an] exchange student with AFS and attended the University of Neufchatel in Switzerland, and in the past, my family had hosted a girl from Dijon, France, and another boy from the south of France.

Also, throughout my growing years, we often had visitors from Ecuador and Colombia. It was common for friends and relatives to send their kids to us for the summer to practice their English and learn more about American culture. Those experiences, combined with our own experiences of living in Canada, Eastern Europe, and Germany, gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

2. What year did you decide to open up your house?

We hosted our first exchange student, a young girl from France, in the summer of 2007. Our son, Alexander, was in middle school and our daughter, Mercedes, was entering high school. While she was a very sweet and easy-going guest, she wrote on her application that she spoke an intermediate level of English.

In fact, she spoke nearly no English. I had to interpret for her so she could communicate with the rest of the family. Once, when we were out to lunch, she and Mercedes had shared some tacos. When I asked if she wanted another one, she said, “sure, sure.” When I brought three more to the table, she scoffed and said, “no, no, no,” holding her stomach and indicating she was full and couldn’t eat anymore. We continue to laugh about that to this day.

3.  Favorite memories, moments?

The following year, we took a break from hosting, but the next year we were again approached by Terra Lingua [a different program], the exchange company, and asked to please consider taking a boy from Spain. He was Alexander’s age, was arriving in just over a week, and still had no host family. We accepted him, and that was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship between two boys and their families.

Inigo came to us from Bilboa, Spain. While he did speak a fair amount of English, he improved immensely through continued study in Spain as well as on his return visits to the U.S. Most recently, he stayed with us for his fourth time. He and his parents still communicate with us via Skype every few months. We keep up with each family’s happenings, as well as discuss what’s happening with each country’s politics, economy, and social issues. It makes for a candid and insightful exchange.

Alexander has also visited with Inigo’s family in Spain, even joining them on the family holiday to the Canary Islands. Some of our favorite memories were taking him camping for his very first time ever and introducing him to Dance Dance Revolution games.

Another funny memory is that we always thought we ate more than the Spanish family and that he was probably shocked. As it turns out, he now says he eats just as much and was always hungry, but didn’t want to be rude.

4. Why other families should consider becoming host families.

Other families should consider hosting a foreign exchange student because it allows you to share the best of American culture and the local area. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., this is simply a beautiful place, where people are kind, generous, and genuinely interested in creating positive relationships with people of other cultures. We have much to be proud of and much to share.

5. How rewarding is it to be able to host a student?

We loved being a host family. We know that there does not always exist an automatic chemistry between host and guests, but when there is such chemistry, it becomes an extension of your family. These are friendships that you can maintain for a lifetime.

6. How rewarding was it for your students? What do you think they gained?

I believe my children gained a great friend and extended family in Spain. I believe our guest gained an extended family here in the US and a much better understanding of the American way of life and culture. He can now speak from first hand experience about American culture and hospitality.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about being a host family with Youth for Understanding, please contact local Host Family Recruiter volunteer Amber Champ at and/or visit for more information. 

Manassas is bucking the national trend and welcoming younger entrepreneurs to the city

Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone restaurant

A wave of business owners under the age of 35 has been bringing both new energy and great new destinations to the City of Manasass.

This activity comes at a time when the rate of entrepreneurship among young Americans has been falling across the U.S. While the Kauffman Foundation recorded the lowest rate of entrepreneurship in 17 years among people between the ages of 20 to 34, the City has been attracting this demographic.

Some of the forces driving this trend include a local culture of support for independent businesses, a collaborative business environment, and a strong sense of community.

There is no greater encouragement for an entrepreneur than the vote of confidence that support from the community can bring. Sean Arroyo, the CEO and co-founder of Heritage Brewing Company, used Kickstarter to see if locals would get behind his brewery concept.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform through which business owners can make sales pitches to raise money for their ideas. He met his goal and raised more than $20,000 from 166 backers three years ago. Support for Heritage continues to grow. A planned expansion will make it the second largest brewery in the state.

“It was funded mostly by people in and around Manassas and Northern Virginia,” said Arroyo. “It signaled to us that people want us here.”

Strong local support makes locating in Manassas an obvious choice for other business owners, too. Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone barbecue restaurant, says his family has been involved with businesses in Manassas for generations. Opening The Bone in the City was a “no-brainer” for him because he likes being in a community with so many independently owned businesses and strong support for buying local.

“The hospitality industry in Downtown Manassas is made up of many young entrepreneurs, which gives the city an energetic, unique flair you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hoover. “We love working with the other [local] restaurant owners to put on special events such as the weekly live music and numerous festivals throughout the year.  It is truly a small town where everyone works together toward the common goal of bringing great food and a great experience to visitors and locals alike.”

Miguel Pires, the owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, also cites the spirit of the community as a factor for opening his business in the City. He says he was raised in his family’s restaurants – Carmello’s and Monza – and worked as a general manager for both establishments for 10 years. When the time had come to open Zandra’s, Pires chose Manassas because he “wanted to continue to expand downtown’s culinary experience.” 

Chris Sellers, the owner of CJ Finz, credits the small-scale buildings in the historic downtown for giving restaurants a more intimate feel and an opportunity to focus on customer service.

“The restaurants here aren’t commercialized,” he said. “We get to build a connection to the community through each table that we serve.”

Business owners who are active with community organizations and civic groups strengthen that connection to the City even more. “People like me, Miguel, and others are excited about being the next leaders of the downtown,” said Sellers.

Entrepreneurs of any age can take advantage of area support services to get their business idea off the ground and join this community. The City’s Economic Development Department’s staff members are available to discuss the local economy, business ideas, great sites for locating new establishments, incentives, and the steps in starting a business.

Also, training and advice is available from George Mason University’s Mason Enterprise Centers, the Community Business Partnership, and the Flory Small Business Center (by referral).

How VDOT will use a jet snow melter to fight Old Man Winter


Coming to a commuter lot near you this winter (if it snows): A jet-powered snow melter.

The Virginia Department of Transportation gave us an annual look at how they plan to do battle with Old Man Winter this year. It’s the agency’s job to keep more than 17,000 lane miles in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties clear of snow and ice. About half of those roads are major highways and heavily-traveled arterials while the other half is neighborhood streets.

VDOT last year spent $128.5 million on snow removal in Northern Virginia — more than double the $50.5 million budget. This year, VDOT has $70.7 million to spend on snow removal. A series of winter weather outlooks published this week, including one on Capital Weather Gang, indicate at least one major winter storm for our region this season.

The state has an online website that tracks what streets have been plowed after it snows. It’s a popular feature that VDOT continues to urge residents to use.

“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia in a statement. “We continue to encourage residents to use the website for real-time information on their neighborhoods during snow storms. Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our crews.”

Residents in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun may go to the site, enter their address, and see whether or not plowing in their neighborhood has begun or has been completed. They can also track the locations of snow plows.

The agency also listed some tools in the snow removal fight to be used this year:

A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where snow piles can block spaces.

Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.

Two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms.

Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

VDOT will also continue to pre-treat 850 miles of highway before the first snowflake falls.

350 lane miles on interstates—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.

500 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, and 50, are pre-treated with salt brine. Brine (77 percent water, 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, reduces the need for salt to melt ice, is kinder to the environment and can lower snow removal time and costs.

The agency will also deploy more employees to monitor snow plowing operations, and will continue a 2-year test a brine mixture that is used to pre-treat roads. Using brine to treat roads has been successful in western U.S. states and it could reduce the need for salt use here in Virginia, according to a VDOT statement.

How Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas matches the right CAREGiver to your loved one

home instead CAREGiver

Matching the right CAREGiver to the right client is a very serious and rewarding job.

Gail Earhart is the Relationships Manager for Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, which provides local CAREgivers to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties.

“On a daily basis a lot of what I do is in the staffing department because we have clients on any given day…or up to any given week we could have up to 60 to 70 shifts to fill,” said Earhart.

However, filling the slots with CAREGivers isn’t the easiest task to complete. One of the biggest challenges Earhart and the staffing team faces when filling shifts is that each client has different needs, and each CAREGiver has a different preference.

“So you might have a client who has a dog or a cat and then you have a CAREGiver, who won’t go to somebody who has a dog or a cat,” said Earhart. “Or you have a client who has Alzheimer’s so we have to ensure that we have a CAREGiver, who’s seasoned working with somebody who has Alzheimer’s.”



Finding out the preferences and needs for both client and CAREGiver are important steps in delivering quality care. It starts at the beginning by consulting with new clients by Client Care Coordinators.

“Our Client Care Coordinators go out, and when they’re doing a consultation they find all this information out,” said Earhart. The Client Care Coordinators then return and tell staffing what exactly their client needs and the appropriate type of CAREgiver for their client.

Home Instead has 200 CAREGivers, which seems like a daunting task when matching the right CAREGiver to the right client. However, members of staffing know the CAREGivers so well they make it their job to know who is the right fit for their client.

Recently, Earhart completed a consultation of a client who was described by his daughter as “narrow minded” and “stubborn.”

In this case, the family requested a CAREGiver who was assertive and not someone young who the client can potentially take advantage of. So Home Instead matched the correct CAREGiver to the client who would make sure the client did what might seem the most basic of things, eat regular meals and shower on a regular basis.


Filling specific needs 

Sometimes, clients can be very particular about finding the right CAREGiver. And that’s OK. Many times families prefer non-smokers in the home or simply a companion for their loved one.

“Sometimes they say ‘I want a really talkative CAREGiver. Somebody’s who’s going to sit with my mom for three hours and just talk about life’ and we have that and that’s part of our service,” said Earhart.

Much of a CAREGiver’s role is “filling that gap” when a family member needs to go out when they can’t be with their loved one. Which is why it’s so important for a perfect match to exist between client and CAREGiver.

“The last thing I want to do is send somebody in there who’s a very quiet CAREGiver. We have those too so we want to make that perfect match,” said Earhart,” …but we tell every client if we don’t send the correct CAREGiver, if there isn’t a match, it doesn’t feel like a good fit, call us because we can send you somebody else.”

Successfully matching clients and CAREGivers can sometimes be an “ongoing process,” but when that perfect match happens and the client or client’s family sends positive feedback there’s no better feeling.

A care consultation can take up to an hour and a half .

“The first probably 45 minutes is just talking to the family, getting to know the family, finding out what their needs are. We have a complete form [and] we’re taking notes the entire time,” said Earhart.

It’s within these first 45 minutes do Client Care Coordinators know whether or not the client will be signed up. The last 30 minutes is dedicated to paperwork but discussion still happens between the family and client and Client Care Coordinator.


The best and most common questions families ask Client Care Coordinators include:


What type of CAREGiver will be sent to me?
Are they certified, bonded, or insured?
Do CAREGivers do drug testing?
Will the CAREGiver be permanent or temporary?


“Obviously our goal is to have permanency so if somebody is scheduled Monday, Wednesday, Friday they want the same person,” said Earhart.

However, it’s not a guarantee that clients will always have the same CAREGiver. It may take between two to three weeks to find the best two CAREGivers for clients in case one CAREGiver needs to call out in the future.

Some clients need around the clock care and see up to three CAREGivers each day.

“When we have a 24/7 client, we work on having 24/7 teams. We’ve had a client now for almost two years that has the same eight CAREGivers on that team” said Earhart. “They just rotate through the week and then the weekend.”


If its not working

It can be hard for families to initiate the conversation that a CAREGiver isn’t working out.

“We do get those phone calls and it might be ‘my dad’s just not hitting it off with this CAREGiver’,” said Earhart, “or maybe it’s something that the client unfortunately just doesn’t like about the CAREGiver and that’s okay too because not everybody makes a connection, not everybody makes a hit.”

To find out why a match isn’t successful, Earhart normally gets to the center of the problem. For example, if a family complains that the CAREGiver is on the phone too much steps will be taken to correct that and no further action needs to be taken. Or the family loves the CAREGiver but the CAREGiver can’t cook or complete a certain skill that properly fulfills the client’s needs.

“Jeannie Carroll is our CAREGiver Retention Coordinator and she has the best job here I think at Home Instead because she works directly with the CAREGivers,” said Earhart.

Jeannie spends 30 days with the CAREGivers, accompanies them on their first shift, and supervises them for 30 days to monitor their progress.


Making it a success 

What helps to make success more likely for both client and CAREGiver is that initial intake and assessment that has all of the client’s needs and preferences. When a CAREGiver is first assigned to a client, they must read everything about that client and if a CAREGiver’s preferences don’t match with the client’s, another CAREGiver can be assigned before one is sent to the client.

Journals are provided to the family and client to take note of the daily care received and if something raises questions, Home Instead can be contacted. Phone numbers are not exchanged between client or the client’s family and CAREGiver so that everything goes through Home Instead’s office.

“No client is ever left without somebody, so whatever it takes we’re going to be there,” said Earhart. 

Manassas Park Community Center starts ‘thank you’ pandemic to spread gratefulness

Manassas Park community center

Don’t be alarmed, but in case you hadn’t heard summer is over and the Thanksgiving season is here.

Now is the season where people make a special effort to recount all the things they are thankful for in their lives. For many, it has become a tradition to share this list at the dinner table on Thanksgiving before eating.

Being mindful of your gratitude helps make you a happier person and, as happiness is contagious, it will make others around you happier as well. While it’s a wonderful and fun tradition to practice during Thanksgiving, the benefits of gratefulness can be enjoyed year round.

However, being grateful and focusing on what you are grateful for isn’t enough.

It’s easy to neglect to use the phrase, “thank you,” but those two simple words carry so much meaning. Thank you can reinforce and strengthen bonds we share with others.

When you say thank you to the person who makes your lunch in the morning, to your child who finishes their chores, or to your favorite cashier ringing up your purchase you express that you value that individual. Regardless of how monotonous, simple, or mandatory the task is, it should always be acknowledged and appreciated verbally.

Remember, gratefulness spreads happiness, but how can you express gratitude if you never say “thank you?”

Why do people neglect to say thank you? There are probably a myriad of reasons beyond my scope of knowledge and it’s easy to compile a list of cynical reasons – but let’s not create an anti-grateful list during the season of gratitude.

Instead let’s challenge each other to say a sincere and genuine thank you every day. Say it 10 times. Say it 100 times. Thank you is a rare phrase that has meaning no matter how frequently it is repeated.

Once you start saying thank you to others you’ll instantly notice others will start saying thank you to you. If happiness is contagious, and gratitude creates happiness, then it shouldn’t be surprising gratitude is contagious as well.

I’d like to start this gratitude pandemic. From me and on behalf of the entire City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, we’d like to thank you for all that you do. Even if we haven’t met yet, thank you. If we have met, thank you. Thank you for visiting our parks and our community center and giving value to the work that we do here. You are our community and we are here to work together to build our community up together.

To add further meaning behind our gratitude and to help spread our gratitude we are offering two specials this month. On Thursdays (through November 19) you can donate 10 non-perishable food items in order to receive 10% off a Basic or All-Access membership at the Manassas Park Community Center.  

From November 27 through December 4, we will be launching our ‘Friends and Family’ promotion where we share our employee discount with all of you. During that week only, you can get a Basic membership for 25% off.

For more details please contact us at 703-335-8872.

Surovell to replace Puller in Virginia Senate



Democrat says Prince William County changing politically, remains bellwether of state politics  

Scott Surovell will replace the long-serving Virginia State Senator Toddy Puller.

Puller served in the Senate since 1999, and seven years in the House of Delegates before that. The Democrat will retire this year.

Surovell is the Democrat who campaigned against Republican Jerry Foreman, the Mayor of Dumfries. It was the first bid for state office for Foreman, while Surovell has already spent the past five years in as a Fairfax County representative in the Hosue of Delegates.

The 36th District is a Gerrymandered District made up of portions of southern Fairfax County, eastern Prince William County, and northern Stafford County. Surovell won the race by 21 points overall. He also won the majority of precincts in Fairfax, and Prince William counties, while Foreman won the majority in GOP-heavy Stafford.

“Prince William County is the battleground for Virginia…Prince William County is where the future of this state will be decided,” Surovell heralded in his election night victory speech. “Prince William County is changing, we’re starting to show people what Prince William County stands for.” 

Foreman issued this statement on his Facebook page:

Elections are always hard fought, win or lose you always pray those folks that win…have our support and prayers for guidance. As Mayor, I have the firm belief and commitment that I will work with elected officials that represent our area. This will continue.

Foreman won reelection as Dumfries Mayor in 2014. It’s a job he’ll keep for two more years.

Surovell campaigned heavily on the issues of title car loan companies out of business. Keeping a watchful eye on Dominion Virginia Power as they work to close coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station outside Dumfries was another campaign issue.

And the ever-popular expand Metro to Woodbridge appeared once again as a campaign trail issue. Only this time the idea is catching on, and a rail extension study is supported by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Surovell will be sworn into his new role in the Virginia Senate in January in time for the next General Assembly session January 18. Surovell credited Democrats working together, using a joint campaign office in Woodbridge, and literature listing the names of Democrats running for local office as some the keys to his victory.

Volunteers needed for Dumfries Christmas parade, tree lighting


Volunteers are needed for the Dumfries Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 5, 2015.

The parade will start at noon, and the tree lighting will start at 5 p.m.

Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and have the opportunity to serve the community.

Interested parties should contact Community Services Director Brittany Heine at 703-221-3400, ext 144 or by email Bheine[at]

Great fall recipes from Manassas Olive Oil


Fall is here! Check out some of these recipes from Manassas Olive Oil Company!

Tuscan Herb Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing beats a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold day. But ditch your can – this soup recipe is going to make you look forward to those cold and rainy days. Recipe courtesy of KBCulinary.


2 large carrots, peeled – quartered then sliced

2 stalks celery, stalks halved, then sliced

2.5 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 pearl onions, peeled and quartered

1/2 C spring onions, chopped (the green stems)

3-4lb chicken thighs

3 pinches Manassas Olive Oil Co. Rosemary Sea Salt

~3/4 Cup Tuscan Herb Olive Oil

Herb de Province (amount to personal preference)

Parsley (amount to personal preference)

80 oz chicken broth

Egg noodles (amount to personal preference)

Generously coat chicken thighs in Tuscan herb olive oil, herbs, and sea salt mixture and bake at 350 until internal temperature of 165, allow to cool and pull meat from bone.

In stock pot cook carrots and celery in butter for 4 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to get a good coat of butter on vegetables. Add garlic, pearl onions, spring onions, one pinch Sea Salt, and ½ cup Olive oil, Herb de Province and parsley; cook for five minutes stirring every 60 seconds. Add broth and cover until just to boiling, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Add meat and one pinch sea salt to soup base after 30 minute simmer time, and increase heat to bring to SLOW boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add egg noodles and cook for eight more minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy.

For an additional compliment, add some crostini. Slice sourdough baguette, drizzle with flavor infused olive oil and dried herbs. Bake on shallow baking pan at 350 until crisp.

Autumn Kale and Quinoa Salad



It’s tough to get in a healthy meal. This salad will make you actually enjoy kale for a change! Packed with nutrients, easy to make, and has a nice seasonal flair.


2 cups raw, peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2″ cubes.

2 cups prepared quinoa, cooled

1/2 cup Manassas Olive Oil Co. Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup shaved Pecorino

6 cups washed, dried mixed greens or baby kale

Pinch of sea salt


1/2 cup +2 tablespoons Gremolata Olive Oil

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons Grapefruit White Balsamic

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons mustard

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl whisk the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of balsamic. Add the cubed butternut squash and toss to dress with olive oil and balsamic. Place the butternut squash in a single layer in a pan or on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until the squash becomes golden brown. Allow to cool.

In a blender or food processor, add all of the dressing ingredients. Process to combine well, and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Combine 1/2 of the butternut squash, quinoa, and kale and arrange on a large platter or in a large shallow salad bowl. Add some dressing and toss to combine. Add the rest of the butternut squash over the top, sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds, and add shaved Pecorino.

Serves 6-8

Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes



Truly a treat, and a compliment for any dish you make this season!


4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

1/3 cup Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic

2 tablespoons Butter Olive Oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt


Heat oven to 400F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a half sheet jelly-roll pan.

Thoroughly shake or whisk together the Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic and Butter Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In a large bowl toss to liberally coat the sweet potato wedges with the emulsified balsamic-olive oil mixture.

Arrange the potato wedges on the parchment paper lined pan in a single layer, without over-crowding. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast for 45 minutes until tender and the balsamic glaze has caramelized.

Chips 4 Charity: Fabulous food, dancing, prizes, top-notch games at Harbour View in Woodbridge


On November 13, 2015, the Woodbridge Rotary and the Greater Prince William Health Center will host its 4th annual ‘Chips 4 Charity’ event.

Chips 4 Charity, a casino night, being held as a vehicle for raising funds for its two host organizations, is the largest community fundraiser for each. For the health center, proceeds will go to fund special programs within the center, providing care for uninsured families in our community. For Woodbridge Rotary the proceeds will fund such organizations as Good Shepherd Housing Foundation, The ARC, Project Mend-A House and The Boys & Girls Club among others. In the last 3 years, Chips 4 Charity has funneled over $75,000 in funds into the community through the organizations it supports. 

Harbour View in Woodbridge is decked out in its finest by our professional casino operation. The food is fabulous. There’s dancing, prizes and of course top notch gaming handled by dealers that make the evening a high energy, engaging event even for non-gamers. Our dealers will teach you everything you need to know to enjoy several types of gaming including poker, Texas hold’em, roulette and blackjack for all skill levels.

Since its inception, Chips 4 Charity has been a huge success thanks to support from key players Harbour View Event Center and Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ and our many sponsors and community attendees. We would not have been able to grow this event to its current stature without all of those entities coming together. Don’t worry though- We still have plenty of room on the sponsor banner for your logo and we’d love to have you involved!

Some people love to go all out in their formals and tuxes and we know some don’t, so attire for the event ranges from cocktail dresses to khakis.

Harbour View is our beautiful venue located at 13200 Marina Way in Woodbridge, right on the the Occoquan River. When you walk into the casino room and all the curtains are open overlooking the marina the tone is already set for a magical night. 

Remember: your sponsorships are still welcome! And even if you don’t sponsor, Come on out and spend a great evening supporting your community!

Brooke Point student charged with making threats to bomb school

082711 Brooke Point High School

A 15-year-old is in jail after investigators said he made threats to bomb Brooke Point High School and shoot those at the school.

Stafford authorities were notified of the threat at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27 when the school principal called 911. The school administrator told authorities several parents told him the suspect who is a student at the school, had planned to blow up the school and shoot people at the school, according to a statement from the Stafford sheriff’s office.

The suspect tried to enlist the help of a 15-year-old female student in the shooting. That girl reported the threat to administrators.

Investigators issued these details in their press release:

Detectives met with the subject of the investigation at his residence. Detectives also interviewed several students who had overheard the 15 year old make these threats. After speaking with the juvenile who was accused of making the threats, it was clear that the threats had in fact been made.

A search warrant was also executed at the young man’s residence. Guns and rifles were located in the home but were secured and locked and none were missing or appeared to have been accessed. In addition, no written plan or “manifesto” was located during the execution of the search warrant and no evidence was located indicating that the plan to bomb or shoot up the school was going to actually happen the next day.

A second search warrant was executed on the 15 year old’s computer and social networking sites. Preliminary reviews did not disclose any additional threat or information. However, as a result of the ongoing investigation, the young man was charged and incarcerated at the Juvenile Detention Center on the night of October 27, 2015.

The motives for the threats appeared to have stemmed from the juvenile’s depression and anger towards fellow students. The young man was angry because of his difficulties in developing relationships with fellow students.

The suspect was not identified, and is being held in the Rappahannock Regional Jail, according to authorities. He is charged with one count of threats to bomb and with one count of committing, conspiring, and aiding and abetting acts of terrorism, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

This latest arrest comes three days after authorities in Spotsylvania County thwarted a plot by students there to shoot fellow classmates at Riverbend High School.

Stafford schools react after ‘insensitive’ photo surfaces on Instagram


Stafford County Public Schools has responded after a photo appeared on Instagram of two girls wearing jackets with offensive lettering.

The photo of two students wearing the jackets was taken at Mountain View High School, according to Stafford County School officials. The school division issued a statement this morning noting the photograph was investigated and that “appropriate actions have been taken.” 

“As principal of of the school, I am very sorry that this incident occurred at Mountain View. There are plans in place t educate the entire student body about this type of behavior, provide counseling if needed for any student, and to work with the entire community to ensure this type of action does not happen again,” said Mountain View High School Principal Dr. James Stemple. 

Stafford Schools Superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson asked that anyone who has shared the “insensitive” photo on social media to remove it.

The words on the students jackets also appear as lyrics in a 2013 Soulja Boy song titled “We made it.”

Road crews to work on Arkendale Road ahead of coming state park


Work will soon begin to improve Arkendale Road in a rural section of Stafford County along the Potomac River. 

The narrow road will be the main link to a new Widewater State Park once the park is developed. 

Here’s more in a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation: 

Motorists will encounter rough pavement on Route 633 (Arkendale Road) in Stafford County for three weeks while the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) repairs the roadbed and travel surface.

Message boards will be posted to alert motorists to the rough driving conditions. Repair work is estimated to be completed by late November.

During 2016, Arkendale Road will be resurfaced from Widewater Road to Brent Point Road, a distance of 2.1 miles, to improve motorist access to the future Widewater State Park.

Approximately 370 vehicles a day travel Arkendale Road.

Those who live in the Widewater area have long been concerned about the narrow roads.

Next year, the road will be slightly widened as part of the resurfacing work to be done next year, said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon. Transportation officials will then decide if they will add a double yellow line on the road after street resurfacing is complete.

How you can volunteer to help Manassas Park Trunk-or-Treat

manassas park trunk or treat 2

As an avid volunteer in the community myself, I can’t emphasize enough how important volunteering is. As a citizen you discover what a difference you can make in the community.

You’ll meet new people, create a positive impact in your community, and make important connections to help you in your personal and professional life. Businesses can also benefit from volunteering. Aside from meeting potential customers businesses grow their brand and reputation.

When thinking of what a community is, it’s easy to imagine distinct and isolated categories, but in truth a community is comprised of citizens, the local government, small businesses, and local non-profits. We’re all in this together so when we work towards a positive change in our community it has a resounding impact for everyone no matter how small the effort may appear.

Fortunately in the Prince William County area there are a plethora of non-profits and organizations looking for volunteers. CASA, Project Mend-A-House, Rainbow Riding Center, the Red Cross, PFLAG, the Independence Empowerment Center, Comfort Cases, Final Salute, the Arc of Prince William, SERVE, the Haymarket Food Pantry, and the Matthew’s Center are just a few that immediately come to mind. To simplify efforts, you can contact Volunteer Prince William to see which organizations have a pressing need for volunteers.

The City of Manassas Park’s Department of Parks and Recreation is always looking for volunteers as well. From helping us maintain the parks, to participating in our various committees, to having extra hands to run special events, there exists a multitude of volunteer opportunities.


The next special event we’re hosting is Trunk or Treat. This event provides a safe place for families to trick or treat while also offering crafts, activities, hayrides, and a moon bounce. To make this event a huge hit we need help from the community. Volunteers can bring their decorated vehicles and pass out candy and other treats while also dressing in costumes. Businesses and non-profits are welcome to promote themselves while participating. The more businesses and citizens that volunteer as vendors the more exciting the event becomes for the children.

Whether you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity or you’re a family looking for a safe place to celebrate Halloween, we hope you’ll join us for Trunk or Treat on Saturday, October 31st from 5:30pm-7:30pm. It’s free for volunteers to participate as vendors. If interested, prospective volunteers should email Tony Thomas at

This post was written by Jason Shriner. 

Great Halloween trick-or-treating options offered at 5 Prince William Shopping Centers


Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.

Bristow Center in Bristow, Bull Run Plaza and Davis Ford Crossing in Manassas and Dillingham Square and Potomac Festival 1 and 2 in Woodbridge will offer kids the chance to trick-or-treat store to store for candy and other goodies.

Each event will feature balloon artists and face painters. Merchants will also host sidewalk sales, contests and giveaways. 

Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.
Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.
Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.
Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.
Five Prince William County shopping centers will host free Halloween trick-or-treating during the month of October.

Bristow Center, located at the intersection of Nokesville and Linton Hall roads, features Harris Teeter and CVS/pharmacy. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bristow Center on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. The shopping center is owned by BLJV, LLC. 

Bull Run Plaza is located at the intersection of Route 234 and Sudley Manor Drive in Manassas, and includes Dick’s Sporting Goods, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Office Depot and Chili’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Bull Run Plaza on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Davis Ford Crossing is at the intersection of Liberia Road and Prince William Parkway in Manassas. The center features L.A. Fitness, Petco and Staples. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Davis Ford Crossing on Saturday, Oct. 24 from noon to 2 p.m.

Dillingham Square is at the intersection of Old Bridge Road and Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge.   The center includes Food Lion, Gold’s Gym and Brittany’s. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Dillingham Square on Saturday, Oct. 31 from noon to 2 p.m. The shopping center is owned by Old Bridge Retail Investments, LLC. 

Potomac Festival includes businesses on both sides of Potomac Mills Road and features hhgregg, Buffalo Wild Wings, Staples and Savers. Trick-or-Treating will take place at Potomac Festival on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Rappaport provides property management, leasing and marketing services for the centers.

Chinese travel to Manassas to learn about local government


When delegates of the Shaoxing Yuecheng District in China were looking for an American local government to learn from, they selected the City of Manassas.  

On Oct. 20, 2015, the City of Manassas hosted five members of the Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation from China.  Vice Mayor Way and City Manager W. Patrick Pate put together a team of senior staff to speak to the group.  The group heard from the Chief of Police, Voter Registrar, Treasurer, City Attorney and the Purchasing Manager about local government processes and transparency in government.

Members of the delegation were impressed to learn that the Manassas City Police Department is in the top one percent of police departments internationally as evidenced by their current CALEA rating.  Delegates asked questions as to which agency, out of the Federal government, state or local governments were responsible for the different aspects of government, such as elections and public safety.

At the end of the event, members posed for a group photo.  Members from the City of Manassas include City Manager W. Patrick Pate, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way, Purchasing Manager Jimmy Falls, Treasurer Robin Perkins, Voting Registrar Ann Marie Bausch and Director of Economic Development Patrick Small.  The Shaoxing Yuecheng Delegation included Mr. Jin Quanhai, Vice Secretary, CPC Yuecheng District Committee of Shaoxing City, Mr. Chen Jirui, Town Chief, Yuecheng Lingzhi Town People’s Government of Shaoxing City, Mr. Wang Yin, Director, Yucheng Fushan Sub-district Office of Shaoxing City, Mr. Zhao Xiongwei, Deputy Director Shaoxing City Yuecheng District Economy and Information Technology Bureau, and MaChao, Secretary, CPC Yuecheng Chengnan Sub-district Committee of Shaoxing City.

Ground broken on retail portion of Aquia Towne Center: ‘It’s finally happening’


A 76,000 square foot, concept grocery store will anchor the retail center at the latest incarnation of Aquia Towne Center.

The once bustling 200,000-square foot shopping center was razed in 2007. The land sat dormant until this year, and now 256 apartments are now coming up out of the ground on about half of the 25-acre property.

Stafford County leaders and Aquia Harbour residents gathered at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to celebrate the start of a commercial portion of the town center revitalization with a ceremonial moving of dirt from the ground into a dump truck. It’s the next phase of the town centers’ redevelopment, and the retail portion of the project represents a $40 million investment into the community.

The new commercial center will be developed by Maryland-based Mosaic Realty Partners, the same company that purchased nearby Brafferton Shopping Center on Route 610 last year. It will sit across from the new apartment complex being developed by Virginia Beach-based Franklin Johnston Group.

The grocery store will anchor the retail development.

The retail portion of a newly revamped Aquia Towne Center breaks ground.
The retail portion of a newly revamped Aquia Towne Center breaks ground.

“We’re not yet ready to announce the name of the grocer just yet… we are at the two-yard line in the deal,” said Eron Sodie, with Mosaic Realty Partners. “All I can tell you is that the supermarket chain in based in North Carolina, and you can figure it out from there.”

That left the crowd of over 100 people who came to the earth moving ceremony speculating that the store could be Harris Teeter.

“We need a Harris Teeter in Stafford,” said Wendy Mauer, of Stafford, who’s also running for a seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

Sodie said Aquia Towne Center is the “most important project in their portfolio right now.” The firm has also developed properties in Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland, and outside Baltimore.

Stafford Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde said he won a seat on the Board of Supervisors 10 years ago by campaigning on the revitalization of the old Aquia Town Center.

“…I promised I would do something with this mall, and I haven’t done it fast enough… this changes all that,” said Milde. “It’s finally happening.”

Plans for the new grocery store show it occupying an area where a Regal Cinema movie theater sits today. New buildings will be built around the grocery store.

A multi-floor building that houses offices for Booz Allen Hamilton, and a Subway restaurant will remain. It is owned by Ramco-Gershon Properties, a developer that once owned the center and had big plans for its redevelopment prior to the recession.

It sold a half of the property to Mosaic and half to Franklin Johnston.

“It’s almost like saying a bad word when you mention Ramco-Gershon around here,” quipped Milde.

Jim Bowen owns a Best Western hotel at Aquia Town Center, on the corner of Routes 1 and 610. Visual renderings Ramco-Gershon had drawn for their version of Aquia Town Center looked more impressive.

“The development was going to be big, expansive, and expensive,” said Bowen, a Stafford resident since 1962. “It was going to have glass walkways, and it had condos on top of retail shops.

This development is a scaled down version of what could have been, he said.

Mick Lay owns “Micks Restaurant and Sports Lounge,” and he hopes new residents in the 256 apartments become regulars at his place.

“It’s going to be good for business to have them here,” he said.

Mosaic continues to shop around for new restaurants to fill their new town center, which will have a total footprint of 160,000 square feet. Founding partner Isaac Pretter was not dropping names of businesses Tuesday, but he did say he is courting well-known local restaurant brands that “would do well in Stafford.”

“Some of the close-in to D.C. restaurants, we’ve talked to our broker and they’ve told us they might work as well here,” said Pretter. “Whatever we bring here we want it to be successful.”

The new retail center is slated to open in 2017.

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