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Stafford

Stafford deputies search for suspicious person, schools placed on lockdown

North Stafford High School sits on Garrisonville Road in North Stafford (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Schools were placed into a lockdown mode this morning while Stafford sheiff’s deputies searched for a suspicious man.

Deputies received a report of a man with a backpack, and a possible weapon, walking in the area of Porter Library on Parkway Boulevard in North Stafford.

Deputies searched the area but found no one matching that description.

Stafford County Public Schools posted this statement on their Facebook page:

At the request of the Stafford Sheriff’s Office, North Stafford High School, Thompson Middle School and Park Ridge Elementary went into partial lockdown this morning after a report of a suspicious person in our area. During this time, students continued to move within the buildings, but no one was allowed in or out of the buildings. At approximately 10:20 we were advised by the Stafford Sheriff’s Office to change the status to full lockdown. At this time, all activity ceased in the buildings as we awaited instructions from the deputies. We received word that we were to return to partial lockdown at 10:41 and then returned to normal operations at 11 a.m.

A parent who contacted Stafford Local said her child was kept in a classroom with doors locked and lights turned off during the lockdown.

Stafford sheriff’s authorities said they did not find anyone in the area. 

Fire crews called to gas leak on Eustace Road

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11:18 a.m. 

A contractor laying fiber optic cable in struck a gas line this morning.

Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to the area of Eustace Road and Legal Court just before 10 a.m. A boring device stuck the line, which is believed to have been at least two inches in diameter, sending the smell of natural gas through a residential neighborhood.

“We arrived on scene, monitored the area, established a hot zone, and then we determined that there was no risked to any of the homeowners in the area,” said Stafford Assistant Chief Mark Doyle.

Stafford sheriff’s deputies blocked streets and neighbors were told to stay inside their homes. The gas company found the broken line and is now in the process of repairing it. The fix could take hours to repair, but streets should be reopened to drivers before noon, according to Doyle.

Fire crews also checked area storm drains for the residual smell of natural gas following the rupture.

10:39 a.m. 

A gas line was struck this morning in the area of Eustace Road and Legal Court in North Stafford.

The leak sprang about 9:50 a.m. Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to the scene.

There’s no word on what caused the leak or if anyone was injured.

We’ll bring you more on this story as we have it.

ANU students take MLK Day, register to vote in Prince William County

Vote, MLK day, election

In recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday and a day of service, Medical Assistant students from the Northern Virginia Campus of American National University collectively registered to vote in Prince William County. 

Their inspiration came not only from Dr. Martin Luther King, but also from the ANU Mission Statement, which states, “Graduates of American National University should understand and practice their responsibilities to their families, their fellow men and their communities by becoming effective and contributing citizens.”

Led by their instructor, MJ Williams of the Roanoke Campus, the students committed to volunteering in the community and becoming informed voters.

Stafford leaders order no tax increase despite lower revenues

Stafford leaders were issued a clear edict Tuesday night: there will be no increase in property taxes next year.

The directive comes as County Administrator Anthony Romanello is piecing together the county’s fiscal year 2016 budget that takes effect July 1. The county’s budget picture is mixed – some tax revenues are up this year while others, like money from real estate taxes and personal property taxes, development fees, and state funding decreased.

The county’s Board of Supervisors ordered Romanello and his staff to complete a line-by-line audit of the budget to find cuts.

“We need to cut out studies, cut out consultants, and I know Anthony doesn’t want to hear this but we need to implement a hiring freeze,” said Griffis-Widewater District Supervisor Jack Cavalier.

The Board agreed that county employees, both in local government offices and within the public school system, should receive raises as previously promised. Funding those increases could mean slashing some $80 million from capital improvement projects not already started, like improving the intersection at Route 1 and Courthouse Road, improving Courthouse Road between Winding Creek and Shelton Shop roads, as well as improvements to Boswell’s Corner at Route 1 and the Prince William County line.

“The Board was very clear in their direction not to raise taxes, and that means we’ll have to look under every rock to find savings and to help with raises for county government employees and schools employees,” said Romanello. “That’s a hell of a challenge. I don’t have an answer right now. I’ve got the next six weeks to work on it with our team to bring them a balanced budget during the first week of March.”

Laura Sellers, the only Democrat on the Board, was in favor of raising property taxes “because it’s what’s best for the community.” But she was against raising taxes on personal property, such as vehicles.

“When you raise the personal property taxes, it hurts the people who make the least money,” said Sellers.

Now at the halfway point in fiscal year 2015, the county has a revenue shortfall of about $500,000. That money can be made up with prior savings, so calling it a “deficit” would not be accurate, said Romanello.

Some major budget drivers this year is funding $1.9 million for construction for a new Stafford High School, as well as $600,000 in county projects that need funding this next year. Adding to all this, Romanello said the county’s School Board will request about $9 million more from the county as it did last year for education expenses.

Last year, county leaders approved a $262 million budget. The property tax rate was lowered from $1.09 to $1.019 per $100 of assessed value, while an increase in property assessments helped to bring in more than $7 million in new revenues over the prior year. 

Romanello will present Stafford County’s proposed budget at a public meeting of the Board of Supervisors on March 3.

Manassas First Friday February: It’s the ‘Souper Bowl’

Souper Bowl
  • Historic Manassas, Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia
  • Phone: 703-361-6599
  • Website: http://visitmanassas.org/

Historic Downtown Manassas is putting on the Soup for First Friday February.

On Feb. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., city restaurants are pairing up with downtown merchants to offer a soup for sampling. Five-dollar wristbands allow participants to sample the soups from each location and vote to name a champion of the “Souper Bowl.”

A list of participating merchants for Manassas First Friday is available at visitmanassas.org.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas. The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art or special foods, like this month.

Cyber academy gives wounded warriors hope, careers

Student Christopher Robinson, director Jim Wiggins, and student Miroslav Kazimir all work together at the Wounded Warrior Cyber Academy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. [Potomac Local]

Military patients work in groups over 18 months learning IT skills  

He watched the World Trade Center towers fall when he was 22 years old from his home country of Slovakia.

Miroslav Kazimir then vowed he would move to the U.S. and join the military in response to the terror attack.

“I was home watching TV when this happened, and a lot of my buddies were firefighters, too, and I felt a lot of anger and pain when this happened, so that’s why I wanted to join.

Kazimir, now 36, waited six years before he could obtain a green card to come to the U.S. Afterward, he joined the Marines, became a machine gunner, and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was the latter tour in 2011 where he lost both his legs.

“We just ran over the IED. I never saw it, and we got blown up,” he said.

He was ejected from the turret attached to the vehicle he and his fellow Marines were riding. Two Marines in his unit died.

Kazimir was missing tibia bones, suffered shattered leg bones, and had bruising of the brain.

He’s called Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland home for the past four years undergoing more than 60 surgeries to repair his wounds. He now walks on prosthetic legs, and he and his wife are the proud parents of a 15-month-old baby.

Kazimir misses shooting machine guns and his life in the Corps. But life for him is different now, and as he transitions from Marine to civilian, new opportunities are opening for him in the IT field.

He and about 25 others attend the Wounded Warrior Cyber Academy at Walter Reed. Here, patients on the mend learn new, marketable computer skills like networking and internet security.

Students attend classes taught at the medical center during the evening hours. Other wounded warriors in places like Alaska and Montana attend academy classes virtually through the web conferencing program called Adobe Connect.

The classes work to build morale and give purpose to many wounded warriors taking their next steps in life.

Marine Christopher Robinson, of Greenville, Alabama, has learned the ins of outs of computers and is working to become an internet security expert. He was stationed in Japan before coming to Walter Reed where doctors were able to regulate his leukemia.

“I started by helping friends fix their computers, and just being able to have the insight to do that is great,” said Robinson. “The security aspect of it, though, the more I learn, the more I cringe. You don’t realize what information you leave out there for anyone to get.”

The academy works in what they call “cyber teams.” Two groups of about 10 to 12 people who are working and learning together for 18 months.

All students in the program receive a certificate. Those who complete the entire 18 months of training get several certificates, and many are employed with large firms like Booze Allen Hamilton.

Raytheon in Stafford County took interest in the program this week and donated $7,500 to the Wounded Warrior Cyber Combat Academy. At a cost of $10,000 per student, the funding is vital to the program’s success.

“Finding the candidates is not the issue. The issue is finding the resources,” said cyber academy director Jim Wiggins.

As the need for more IT security grows greater, officials at Raytheon said this is a program they are proud to support. Many officials in the company’s regional headquarters in Rosslyn are now keeping a close watch on the program, and are interested in the talent it produces for future job openings.

Kazimir is employable now and is about to complete the program. Robinson will be ready for employment by summer, said Wiggins.

Both men say they’ll be ready to leave the hospital for a new start in a career they love. 

After McDonalds robbery, young mom shown path to a degree

degree, credit, mcdonalds

Amercian National University (ANU) student Jazmin Lopez works toward her medical associates degree.

ANU provides young mother flexibility, path to medical assisting degree     

Jazmin Lopez, 20, of Manassas, knew that she needed to make a change in her life, and ANU offered her an opportunity to work toward her degree in a growing field.
Her neighbor was the first to recommend American National University, which has a campus in Manassas located on Liberia Avenue.

“They were promoting the school [at Gold’s Gym], when [my neighbor] met a recruiter from ANU,” Lopez said, continuing, “She was giving me information, but I wasn’t so sure about going to school.”

Lopez had made an appointment to meet with the recruiters on the campus, but still wasn’t sold about pursuing her degree.

Then, one night while working at a McDonalds, she was robbed.

“I wasn’t  speaking at the moment,” Lopez said of the experience, which traumatized her. “I thought it was time to change, and turn my life around,” Lopez said, prompting her motivation to get out of the fast food industry and earn her degree.

A few days after the incident, Lopez did meet with an ANU ad visor about the school’s opportunities for her. The robbery proved to be a turning point in her life that made her want to seek new opportunity and a higher education.

“The recruiter asked me why it took me so long to finally decide to go back to school. And I enrolled that same day…I thought it was really a great idea, because it’s only five minutes away from my house. And it caught my eye because they have really small classes, which means more attention for us as students,” said Lopez.

For her, the flexibility of the classes and assistance that the school has provided her, have allowed her to continue her education as a working young mother.

While still working at McDonalds, Lopez is currently obtaining her Medical Assistant degree, as a member of the class of 2016.

credit, mcdonalds, degree

This Manassas woman was robbed while working at a McDonalds. It was then she decided she need to change her life. She went to ANU in Manassas for a better opportunity.

Routes 610, 17 & Stafford Courthouse all areas seen as bright spots for development

Stafford Courthouse

Stafford residents were clear: they want more high-end retail stores and restaurants in their county.

Stores like Macy’s, Jos A. Bank, L.L. Bean and restaurants like Maggiano’s Little Italy were just some of the names tossed out by residents. Those same residents said they commute to work for too long each weekday on Interstate 95 only to have to drive to places outside the county like Fredericksburg, Woodbridge and Tysons Corner to reach their favorite shopping destinations.

They spoke Monday at a meeting held by the Stafford’s economic development team. As they rattled off the names on their wish lists, members of the team took notes and said they would do all they could to convince these sought-after retailers to take a second look at an area with a growing population.

“The retailers that we have spoken with have learned that Stafford residents are willing to drive to get somewhere,” said Stafford Deputy County Administrator Timothy Baroody.

Driving is the main mode of transportation in this county of more than 130,000 people. The population number is expected to grow by 3,000 each year, said Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello.

Some retailers have been turned off by Stafford’s proximity to Quantico Marine Corps Base and the Potomac River, both of which limit drivers’ access to the county from places like Prince William County as well as Maryland, respectively. 

Retailers are also seeking more walkable, urbanized destinations, similar to a Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge. That’s something Stafford does not have to offer yet.

“The stars are aligning for the development of a mixed-use, walkable area around the Stafford courthouse,” said Baroody. “With the government center, a newly built hospital, and a coming new campus of Germanna Community College, this area will be a destination.”

Until the courthouse area is redeveloped, if ever, the economic team will continue to market its strongest commercial corridors – Garrisonville Road (Route 610) in North Stafford and Warrenton Road (Route 17) in south Stafford. With many retail pad sites already available, Baroody says these are the most likely areas for businesses to locate.

When they do, it’ll help the county keep some $5o0,000 spent per year at retailers and restaurants in neighboring jurisdictions that have more retail choices to offer.

Stafford officials said they will also continue to build upon their success in attracting large employers to the county in an effort to keep more 40,000 people who leave Stafford each day for their jobs to remain in the county.

Stafford fire and rescue crews rescue horse on frozen pond

stafford-horse-3stafford-horse-2stafford-horse-1

On Sunday, fire and rescue crews in Stafford County rescued a horse.

Here’s more in a press release:

At [11:o8 a.m.] Sunday January 11, 2015 Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department and an Animal Control Officer from the Stafford Sheriff’s Office responded to 9 Colyer Rd for a large animal rescue.

During their response units were advised that a horse was stranded on a frozen pond. Upon arrival Fire Rescue personnel learned that the horse had been lying on the ice for approximately one hour and was unable to stand.

Battalion Chief Donald Lace and Stafford Sheriff’s Sgt. Rex Rockhill notified the Large Animal Rescue Team from Culpeper County and a local Veterinarian to assist with the incident due to the need for specialized equipment.

Due to the extended response time for the Animal Rescue Team and the horse’s deteriorating condition Fire Rescue personnel made the decision to remove the horse from the pond. After ensuring firefighters could safely reach the animal a haul system was constructed and the horse was safely brought to shore. After reaching the shore the horse was unable to stand and due to the possibility of hypothermia the crews covered the horse with blankets to maintain his body temperature.

The veterinarian arrived and determined the horse’s body temperature was low and administered warm fluids. Once his condition improved the Large Animal Rescue moved the horse to more stable ground where he eventually stood up and began eating and drinking.

Thanks to the excellent teamwork by all involved this unique rescue had a positive outcome and one very happy horse.

Gas prices fall below $2 per gallon in Stafford

stafford gas 199

Gas for $1.99 – are they out of their minds?

Not in North Stafford where the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell below $2 on Tuesday. That’s a drop considering six months ago the price for the same was $3.55 in the same neighborhood, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Fuel Price Finder.

At some gas stations on Route 1 in Stafford, the price fell even lower to $1.97 per gallon at a FasMart and Wawa stations.

The cheapest place to buy gas in Woodbridge on Tuesday was a Wawa at Daniel Stuart Square at Route 1 and Opitz Boulevard, priced at $2.03 per gallon. The area gas price average was higher at $2.13 per gallon.

It’s important to note that the Fuel Price Finder doesn’t list prices for price clubs Costco and Sams Club that normally have cheaper gas than roadside service stations.

011315 fuel forecast

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of unleaded fuel is $2.14. It’s the lowest national average price since May 4, 2009.

Fuel prices should continue to decline, according to the short-term outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices will remain low, but creep back up in time for the summer vacation driving season in July to a national average of $2.33 per gallon, according to the forecast.

Consumption of fuel has increased to 9.2 million barrels of oil per day in the U.S. in December. Government officials said that the number should increase to 9.5  billion barrels per day in 2016, putting the U.S. on track to near to the all-time high of 9.6 billion barrels of oil per day not seen since 1970.

Wendy Maurer running for Rock Hill Supervisor in Stafford

Wendy Maurer planned to file her paperwork on Monday to run for the office of Rock Hill District Supervisor.

A Republican small business owner and member of Stafford’s Economic Development Authority, Maurer has long been active in the Stafford community. She seeks to replace Cord Sterling, who announced he would not seek reelection in November after accepting a new job as a staffer in the U.S. Senate.

Maurer has three children in Stafford County Public Schools and she immediately identified large class sizes and overcrowding as campaign issues.

“We have significant overcrowding in our schools,” said Maurer, whose three children attend Mountain View and Colonial Forge high schools, and Rodney Thompson Middle School. “I believe the schools have been focusing more on administration and less on teacher pay.”

Rock Hill School Board representative Patricia Healy agrees that schools are overcrowded, and said a move by the School Board to eliminate more than 50 teachers was a difficult budget decision to make.

While the Board of Supervisors is the taxing authority providing a large chunk of the county budget to the school system, it’s the School Board who decides how to spend the cash. Maurer said a full review of the budget, as well as categorical funding practices by the Board of Supervisors is what’s needed place priorities on education in the county.

“Categorical funding can make it more difficult to make changes in a timely fashion,” said Healy. “If we need to move money from one category to another, we’ll need to go back to the Board and its processes before that can be done.”

Maurer said she’ll have strong opinions about what the School Board should do, but said she’ll respect boundaries.

“…I’m not going to be in there to run the school board – that is their job – but I will work closely with my school board representatives…” said Maurer.

Maurer also said improving the quality of roads in the district is another priority. Nearly all of the roads in the Rock Hill District are antiquated 2-lane thoroughfares with no shoulders, providing access to housing developments, schools, and businesses.

Maurer owns LRH Group, LLC in  Quantico, a defense contracting company supporting the Army. Her husband is also employed by the company.

Voters will head to the polls Nov. 3 to select a new Rock Hill District Supervisor.

Used tires are mysterious. New Cooper Starfire Tires cost about the same

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Cooper Starfire Tires offer superior life and performance for just a few dollars more than the cost of a used tire

Instead of buying a used tire that you might have to replace sooner than later, consider a new Cooper Starfire Tire.

It’s a great option for someone looking for an inexpensive tire that will help keep their vehicle on the road longer and their occupants of the car safe.

Cooper Starfire Tires are available for multiple makes and models of vehicles. They’re manufactured in Asia and designed in the U.S. to compete with premium brands without the higher price tag of comparable tires.

The tire offers high-performance ability, improved grip and road handling, with an improved overall tire life.

Cooper Starfire Tires are great for drivers who may have purchased a vehicle that is more costly to maintain than first thought, but are still looking for a quality tire that delivers great handling and a quiet performance on the road. With the Starfire option available, drivers should think before purchasing a used tire.

Typically, drivers have no idea what type of life the used tire had before they obtain it. Used tires could be six to eight years old, perhaps older, and have spent the majority of their life as a used tire strapped to a vehicle. While used tires may look good, the rubber can be worn down or degraded after years of sitting idle. Some used tires may also be missing tread and show signs of wear.

Purchasing a Starfire Tire costs about $30 more than what a used tire might cost, but a new tire, on average, will provide three times the life of a single used tire. The price of a Starfire Tire is up to 30% less than other newer tires.  There are many Starfire Tires produced for SUVs, trucks, and the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Camry models.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now an authorized Cooper Tire dealer and offers a full line of Starfire Tires.

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

Cord Sterling takes D.C. job for John McCain, leaving Stafford Board of Supervisors

After eight years serving on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, Cord Sterling choked up, sat back in his seat and said something that was clearly difficult to get out.

“I will not be running for reelection for the Board of Supervisors in November,” said Sterling.

The Republican represented Stafford’s rural Rock Hill District and took pride in representing the Fredericksburg region on the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond. Sterling was also active on many county committees, including Stafford’s budget committee.

Sterling accepted a new position as the deputy staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill. It’s where his career began 20 years ago, and it’s an “honor to return,” he said.

“Those of you who know the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Chairman is John McCain, and the pace that it maintains, is very grueling,” explained Sterling. “You read the newspapers and you see what’s going on in Europe, the Ukraine, see what’s going in the Middle East, you see what’s going on in Asia, you’ll get an idea of what my schedule and my life is  going to be like over the next several years.”

Sterling said he’ll take a pay cut with the new job, but said his duties will be important to the Senate.

Sterling will complete his term on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors which ends Dec. 31, 2015. It’s not clear yet who will run in his place.

“We still have 12 months of serving together and we have a lot to get done,” said newly appointed Stafford Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Snellings, of Hartwood.

Sterling said he pushed to move the county forward during his Board tenure, especially in the area of improving the county’s road infrastructure. Sterling was integral in securing funding for a new interchange at Courthouse Road and Interstate 95 in Stafford.

Sonic coming to Stafford, on residents’ “retail wish list”

U.S. 17 in southern Stafford County. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Stafford has no Wegmans grocery store, no Olive Garden restaurant, or many other restaurants and retail options found just north and south of the County.

Studies show more Stafford residents spend their hard-earned dollars at many of their favorite establishments outside the county. Stafford County officials want to change this and asked residents to bring a “retail wish list” with them to a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12 at the Stafford County Government Center. They hope to get a better idea of what residents want in Stafford, and then use that information to convince potential companies to locate in Stafford.

“Stafford can definitely get a piece” said Tim George, of VantagePoint consultants, a Baltimore-based firm hired by Stafford County to help improve the county’s economic development plan. “We seek to answer the question of “who” and “how much” because when you look at the retail and restaurant expenditure numbers, a lot of money is being spend outside the county.”

Longtime retail magnets Central Park in Fredericksburg, and shopping centers like Potomac Mills and Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge continue to grow and attract new business.

But that hasn’t stopped Stafford County residents from wanting more shopping choices. Here are some of the responses we received today via Twitter:

There is good news for Chad Atkins who told us he wanted one thing:

A Sonic will open on off Route 17 in south Stafford at 240 McWhirt Loop next to Lowes home improvement store. The drive-in restaurant chain with two nearby locations in Spotsylvania County is currently in the permitting process but should open by June, the weather permitting, said a Stafford County economic development spokeswoman.

Stafford County does have several things working in its favor, like it’s proximity to the nation’s capital, new E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstate 95, and a good quality of life for its residents.

“The county shows good household income…and its proximity to Quantico Marine Corps Base is a strength because it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon,” said George.

Many companies keep secret their formulas for how, where, and why they locate their stores. Since there are already Wegmans stores in Fredericksburg and Woodbridge, Stafford may be able to get a “comparable” retailer, he added.

The county’s first Chipotle restaurant opened last month next to a new Verizon Wireless store. Both are two of many new stores officials said have located in the county in recent years.

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors in 2010 developed a 10-point economic development plan. This latest effort will serve to update that plan and, depending upon the timing of public hearings and meeting of the county’s Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, could take two to four months to complete.

Picture your art here to win

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Winning artwork to be featured on light poles in Manassas

Have you seen the banners that hang on the light poles in the Historic Downtown area of the City of Manassas and in other cities? If you are an artist or aspiring to be one, the art you create could be hanging on one of those light poles.

Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas have launched an art contest to fill the banners in Historic Downtown with original pieces of art. The contest will be juried so that one artist will be awarded a grand prize of $1000 and there will also be “people’s choice award” of $500. The contest deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2015.

This contest is part of an effort to promote art and tourism in the City of Manassas. The winning 50 pieces will be featured on the light pole banners and in a walking tour brochure that includes information on the piece and the artist. Information about the contest can be found at visitmanassas.org/banner-art-project.

Virginia State Police investigate serious hit and run in Stafford

Photo: Mary Davidson

A man from Triangle was struck by a car on Route 610.

The 37-year-old was hit while walking in a crosswalk the area of Route 610 and Brafferton Boulevard near a Sport and Health gym on Thursday, Jan. 1.

The victim was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. A 31-year-old woman walking with the victim was not inured, according to a Virginia State Police spokeswoman.

The car that struck the man was traveling east on Route 610. The driver fled the scene after striking the victim. The woman who was not struck said the car might have been a red Chevrolet sedan. The vehicle should have damage to its right front passenger side and mirror, according to police.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call police at 540-829-7766 or #77 on a cell phone.

Sex offender arrested days after moving to Aquia Harbour

A homeowner in Aquia Harbour rented a room out to a man who turned out to be a convicted sex offender. Within days of moving in, Raymond Roy Frye was arrested for indecent exposure. According to police, the homeowner claimed not to know that Frye was a sex offender. Frye is listed online on the sex offender registry. 

On Saturday, Dec. 27, Frye was allegedly standing in the driveway where he was living on the 2000 block of Aquia Drive wearing only a shirt — no pants or underwear — exposing himself to passersby, police said. He was apprehended by Lt. Nate Thompson of the Aquia Harbour police after a brief foot chase. Stafford County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Aquia Harbour Police Department in the arrest. 

Frye, 50, pled guilty to rape and malicious wounding in 1991 in Chesapeake, Virginia, and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was denied parole multiple times, usually because of the “serious nature and circumstances of [the] offense,” according to documents obtained from the Virginia Department of Corrections. 

According to official sources, Frye was released from prison in 2013 and lived in Maryland until moving to Stafford last week while serving the probation part of his sentence. Information on the Maryland sex offender registry confirms that he was living in Taneytown, Maryland until recently. 

Court records obtained by Potomac Local show that he was charged with attempted indecent exposure June 3 in Maryland. The records indicate that bail was initially denied, then Frye was ordered under home detention on June 6. Bail was set after a second bail review July 9 and posted that same day.  

Frye is currently being held without bond in the Rappahannock Regional Jail. 

Aquia Harbour Police Chief Patricia Harman said that people who rent to others should practice due diligence within the confines of landlord/tenant laws and take every precaution before opening their homes to people they don’t know. 

 

I-95 EZ-Pass Express tolls begin Monday, temporary carpool waiver offered

[Submitted photo]

[Submitted photo]

All drivers on the Interstate 95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes must have an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex electronic tolling transponder starting Monday.

Drivers who have  ordered an EZ-Pass Flex and have not received it may sign up for a special one-week grace period with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Here’s more in a press release:

Monday, December 29 and all carpoolers need an E-ZPass Flex to use the lanes toll-free.  The carpool transition program will give regular carpoolers the opportunity to register for a week of HOV only, toll-exempt travel on the 95 Express Lanes if they have taken the necessary step of ordering their E-ZPass® FlexSM but have not yet received their transponder.

It can take up to seven days for carpoolers to receive their E-ZPass Flex when they order online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at 877-762-7824.  Carpoolers who indicate that they plan to carpool with three or more people on the 95 Express Lanes can register to be added to a seven-day HOV, toll-exempt travel list to ensure they can use the Express Lanes while they wait for their E-ZPass Flex to arrive. 

Carpoolers may designate up to one license plate for each E-ZPass Flex transponder ordered.  Customers who order an E-ZPass Flex by 5 p.m. will have their license plates registered for HOV only use on the 95 Express Lanes by 6 a.m. the following business day. 

Carpoolers who wish to have their E-ZPass Flex in-hand sooner can visit one of 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores, Tysons Corner Center or at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers.

The toll exemption applies to the 95 Express Lanes only – the 495 Express Lanes and other area toll roads are not part of this program. 

The EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 extend from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Alexandria. The lanes will be tolled 24-hours per day, seven days a week.

Tips to prevent road rage following bloody incident in Stafford

A view of the I-96 EZ-Pass Express Lanes from Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

Leaving earlier, calming music, paying it forward can prevent aggressive driving 

One man was stabbed Sunday in an apparent incident of road rage outside a Walmart in North Stafford.

Two vehicles were sitting at a red light at the intersection of Mine Road and Greenspring Drive when one person got out of the car and stabbed another, according to a Stafford sheriff’s office spokesman.

The Stafford sheriff’s office was called to the scene, but no charges have been filed in the case. Photos of the bloody incident scene were taken by passersby.

Authorities washed away the traces of blood on the street following the investigation.

This latest road rage incident follows an incident in California caught on camera where a woman used her truck and attempted to run another car off a highway.

A majority of road crashes in the U.S. are caused by aggressive driving.

It’s no secret the holidays can be a stressful time for many. Shopping, traffic, mounting credit card bills are just some of what people associate this time of the year with.

There are many things drivers can do to reduce the likelihood of road rage. Listening to calming or inspirational music while behind the wheel, leaving the house earlier to have more travel time, or “paying it forward” by allowing someone to go ahead of you can go a long way in preventing road rage.

“When someone does give their signal and butts in front of you, pay it forward. It’s a random act of kindness. It’s amazing how much that will dispel rage,” said Sharon Killian, clinical services director at Rappahannock Community Services Board.

The Board operates anger management classes and frequently helps people overcome anger issues.

Sometimes, people prone to road rage can be nicer when not behind the wheel.

“Those people who do that, when they’re calm, usually say something like ‘I know I shouldn’t have done that, I’m so impatient,” said Killian. “Usually, people know it’s something that they have to work on inside themselves.”

Drivers in our area are no strangers to traffic. Many have to deal with jammed roadways each day, and it’s important for them to pack their patience.

“People who live in congested areas in Northern Virginia, in congested places like Stafford, they have to practice those skills every day,” said Killian. 

Those who wish to seek help for their anger issues can call the Rappahannock Community Services Board 24 hours a day at 540-373-6876.

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