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Light Rain Fog/Mist

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It is forcast to be Ice Pellets at 10:00 PM EST on December 22, 2014
Ice Pellets
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It is forcast to be Rain at 10:00 PM EST on December 23, 2014
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46°/43°
It is forcast to be Rain at 10:00 PM EST on December 24, 2014
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Stafford

Expect freezing rain today

Drivers and pedestrians should be on the look out for freezing rain today.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for our area. It will remain in effect until 6 p.m.

Here’s the details:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HASISSUED A FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY…WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PMEST THIS EVENING. 

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…FREEZING RAIN. PRECIPITATION MAY START OFF  AS SLEET AT THE ONSET. 

* ACCUMULATIONS…A TRACE OF ICE ACCUMULATION…ESPECIALLY ON  ELEVATED SURFACES. 

* TIMING…DEVELOPING BETWEEN 9 AM AND 11 AM THIS MORNING AND  CONTINUING THROUGH THE DAY. PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO RAIN BY  EARLY THIS EVENING. 

* TEMPERATURES…LOWER 30S THIS MORNING SLOWLY RISING INTO THE  MIDDLE 30S BY EARLY THIS EVENING. 

* WINDS…NORTHEAST 5 TO 10 MPH. 

* IMPACTS…ELEVATED SURFACES MAY BECOME SLIPPERY…WHICH WILL  RESULT IN HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS. 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF FREEZING RAIN ORFREEZING DRIZZLE WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FORSLIPPERY ROADS. SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

It’s important to note freezing rain is rain that freezes on contact with a cold surface. Sleet is icy pellets that fall from the sky, and sleet is not in today’s forecast.

Road rage leads to stabbing in Stafford

[Photo by: Diane Elkins McCutcheon]

One person has been stabbed in an apparent road rage incident in Stafford.

The attack occurred on Mine Road near a Walmart in North Stafford when two vehicles were stopped at a traffic light around 5 p.m., according to Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Bill Kennedy. One person got out of their vehicle and approached the other. That’s when the stabbing occurred. 

Kennedy said there were other people in at least one of the vehicles who witnessed the altercation.

An investigation is ongoing.

We will update the story when more information is released.

[Photo by: Diane Elkins McCutcheon]

 

John Jenkins will have a locomotive named after him

John Jenkins, Sharon Bulova, and Paul Milde all serve on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. [Submitted photo]

All aboard the John Jenkins Express.

Jenkins, the longest currently serving Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is recognized for his participation on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. He and eight other VRE Board members who played key roles in the development of the commuter railroad since its founding in 1992 will have their names affixed to the front of VRE locomotives.

Here’s a full list of names that will soon appear on commuter trains:

  • Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
  • James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
  • Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
  • Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
  • Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
  • Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
  • John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member – previously recognized)

The operations board approved adding the names to the locomotives at their monthly meeting this morning.

“Naming locomotives to honor those who helped establish or ensure the success of VRE is a small token of the appreciation we have for the foresight and public service these Board Members have provided in creating VRE,” said  VRE Operations Board Chairman Paul Milde in a press release.

The names that will be affixed to the locomotives belong to those who “played a key role in establishing VRE service, were early or long-tenured members, or whose extraordinary efforts contributed to its success, will be honored by having their names placed on the front of VRE locomotives.”

Virginia Railway Express trains carried more than 320,000 riders in November. Over the past year, the commuter railroad carried 2 million riders.

Updated: Duck hunter dies after boat capsizes in Stafford creek

[File photo; KJ Mushung]

8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 19

A man found in the waters of the Aquia Creek at the confluence of the Potomac River died Thursday.

Daniel Stuart Curran, 58, of Bowling Green, Virginia, died after the 16-foot Polar Craft fishing boat he and his son-in-law were duck hunting on capsized. The boat became entangled in a gill net and started to take on water, according to a preliminary report by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Curran was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to Mullins and Thompson Funeral Home.

Curran’s 32-year-old son-in-law, Charles Brooks Jr., also of Bowling Green, was able to swim ashore. Brooks was alert when he was taken to a local hospital, according to the report.

Investigators are still looking into the incident and plan to release a more detailed report when more information becomes available. 

Rescue units from Stafford County, Quantico and Maryland were called in to assist in the rescue effort on Thursday.

4:20 p.m. 

Stafford County officials have turned over the investigation of the boating accident to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

That department investigated a fatal crash involving a boat that collided with a pylon in Aquia Creek earlier this year.

12:12 p.m.

Two people were safely pulled to shore after a boat capsized at the confluence of the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.

A fishing boat overturned about 11:37 a.m., sending one person into the water. Fire and rescue crews called to the scene pulled that man from the water, said Stafford Fire and Rescue Asst. Battalion Chief Mark Doyle.

Another man and a dog were still out in the water. The dog was spotted standing on the hull of the capsized boat and was pulled to safety, said Doyle. The missing man was found a short time later and was pulled to the shore.

“His condition remains unknown at this time,” said Doyle.

The men put their boat in the water about 6 a.m. for the purpose of hunting ducks.

An investigation is underway. And, according to reports, the boat has been secured and is being left in place in the water for the time being.

Noon 

One person is missing and a search is underway on Aquia Creek.

A small fishing boat, called a Jon boat, capsized about 11:37 a.m. off the shores of Stafford County. Fire and rescue crews and a Maryland State Police helicopter are now involved in the search for the missing boater, according to initial reports.

At least one person was on board the boat with a dog when it capsized. A dog was seen standing on top of the boat when rescue crews went into the water looking for the missing man, according to initial reports. The search began when one man was able to make it ashore to a residence on Canterbury Drive in Stafford, according to initial reports.

Several water rescue boats from Stafford County are involved in the search, as is a water rescue boat dispatched from Quantico Marine Corps Base, according to initial reports.

Aquia Creek pours into the Potomac River. Several people live along the banks of the creek which is also home to Aquia Landing Park.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

Fire crews called twice to Aquia Town Center for gas odor

aquia-town-center-gas-leakaquia-town-center-gas-leak1aquia-town-center-gas-leak3

Fire and rescue crews in Stafford County were twice called to Aquia Town Center last night.

Crews assisted a gas company after the smell of natural gas was reported in the area of a KFC and Ruby Tuesday restaurant.

Fire crews were first called about 6:30 p.m. Monday. They arrived on the scene but found nothing, said Stafford County fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle.

About an hour and a half later, the gas company called 911 to again report a smell of gas in the area and that prompted another response from fire crews.

There’s no word yet if anything was found.

I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes offer smooth ride to Stafford

We took a drive on the new Interstate 95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes this afternoon.

The lanes were free to drivers before 3:30 p.m. today, as the lanes are operating under the old HOV rules that require vehicles to have three or more occupants 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Beginning Dec. 29, all vehicles will need an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex (carpoolers will should use this to not be charged a toll) to use the lanes.

We wanted to drive the new portion of the lanes, from Dumfries south to the Express Lanes’ terminus at Garrisonville Road.

We got on the lanes near Potomac Mills mall, near milepost 156 Dale Boulevard. Midday traffic was light, and we had no issues traveling the stretch of lanes.

The old HOV exit at Route 234 in Dumfries, where all HOV traffic used to merge with the travel lanes of I-95, has been closed. Drivers now proceed about a half mile south to a new flyover exit ramp that carries drivers back to the highway travel lanes as well as connects them to an exit for Joplin Road, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Quantico National Cemetery, and Prince William Forest Park.

We continued south to terminus of the lanes at Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. All drivers are forced to merge into a single lane before transitioning into an exit flyover ramp that carries drivers back to the main lanes of I-95, or connects them to Garrisonville Road.

The I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes carry drivers north to Washington in the mornings and then south each afternoon. Officials say the drivers should remain popular with slugs or carpoolers, who ride together in vehicles of three or more occupants for a faster commute to work. Drivers in vehicles with two or fewer occupants will have the option to pay a toll of about $6 to $8 per 1o to 12-mile trip on the lanes, said express lanes spokesman Micheal McGurk. 

The total length of the lanes is 29 miles from Garrisvonville Road to Esdall Road in Alexandria.

 

No VRE service Dec. 26

Virginia Railway Express will not operate service the day after Christmas.

Federal workers were granted leave for that day.

The commuter railroad issued the following statement about their adjusted holiday schedule:

December 24, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 25, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Christmas

December 26, 2014 – No VRE service

December 29-31, 2014 – “S” Schedule

January 1, 2015 – No VRE service in observance of New Year’s Day

January 2, 2015 – “S” Schedule

January 19, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“No VRE service” is easy enough to figure out but if you are new to our service, we operate an “S” Schedule on certain days. The only trains that will operate on those days are those that are marked with as “S” next to its train number on the schedule. (We also implement this reduced schedule when inclement weather warrants it.) 

6 charged in Stafford meth ring

Shooting dates back to October 

Wallce [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Wallce [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

A shooting in Stafford County has led to the arrest of five people tied to a methamphetamine ring. Investigators are searching for a sixth suspect. 

More in a press release from Stafford County Sheriff’s Office: 

Stephens [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Stephens [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

On Saturday, October 18, 2014 deputies responded to a call for a shooting on the 200 block of Walnut Drive.  In that incident a man was charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding for shooting another man, after having a verbal argument with the victim. 

Stafford detectives executed a search warrant at the residence on Walnut Drive where the shooting occurred.  Stafford detectives discovered remnants of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine. 

Snyder [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Snyder [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

As a result of the ongoing investigation of the shooting incident, Stafford detectives uncovered information that led to the search warrant being executed at a residence on Ficklen Road on October 22, 2014.  Material consistent with the production of methamphetamine was located at the Ficklen Road address. 

As a result of that search warrant and the ongoing investigation, members of the Special Investigation Unit carried out search and arrest warrants at 943 Ficklin Drive, 209 Walnut Drive (both in Stafford County) and the Willann

Hysell [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Hysell [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

address in Spotsylvania County this morning, December 11, 2014.

In all three locations, no one in the affected neighborhoods was in any danger as a result of the materials discovered during the execution of the search warrants and arrests.

The Special Investigations Unit, the Special Problems Unit and members of the Patrol Division participated in the execution of the search and arrest warrants.  Members of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the

Harrington [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Harrington [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

execution of the warrants in Spotsylvania County.

The sheriff’s office arrested the following people: 

Burchett [Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

Burchett [Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

Joshua Wallace, age 39, currently incarcerated at the Rappahannock Regional Jail,

Bradford Burchett, age 37 of 943 Ficklin Drive, Stafford

Mariah Harrington, age 44, of 943 Ficklin Drive, Stafford

*All individuals above are charged with 1 Count of Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Act, 2 Counts of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, 2 Counts of Manufacturing Methamphetamine With a Juvenile Present and 2 Counts of Possession of a Precursor Chemical for the Manufacturing of Methamphetamine. 

John Stephens, age 34, of 209 Walnut Drive, Stafford, charged with 1 Count of Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Act, 1 Count of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, 1 Count of Manufacturing Methamphetamine With a Juvenile Present and 1 Count of Possession of a Precursor Chemical for the Manufacturing of Methamphetamine. 

Constance Hysell, age 25, of 44Willann Lane, Spotsylvania has also been arrested and is charged with 1 Count of Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Act and 2 Counts of Manufacturing Methamphetamine. 

*All individuals above are currently incarcerated at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond.

Lisa Snyder, age 31, of 209 Walnut Drive, Stafford has been charged with 1 Count of Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Act, 1 Count of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, 1 Count of Manufacturing Methamphetamine With a Juvenile Present and 1 Count of Possession of a Precursor Chemical for the Manufacturing of Methamphetamine.  Snyder is currently a fugitive and being sought by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service.

Fire burns home on Musselman Road in Stafford

Photo:  Courtesy of Rusty Raines

Photo: Courtesy of Rusty Raines

Fire and rescue crews in Stafford County were called to a home on Mussleman Road on Monday night. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Photo:  Courtesy of Rusty Raines

Photo: Courtesy of Rusty Raines

On Monday December 8th, 2014 at 1934 hours, Stafford County Fire and Rescue units responded to 214 Musselman Road for a residential structure fire.

Battalion Chief 1 arrived at 1938 hours and reported fire showing from the front of a single story single family dwelling. Engine 1 (Falmouth Station ) arrived at 1938 hours secured a water supply and deployed an attack line and mounted an aggressive interior attack while personnel from Quint 12 (Berea Station) conducted a primary search of the residence. The fire was brought under control in approximately 10 minutes; searches on all floors confirmed no occupants.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Stafford Fire Marshal and damage estimates are not available. Four adults and two children were displaced and received assistance from the Red Cross.
There were no fire department injuries during this incident.

The following departments responded to this incident. Falmouth, Berea, Mountain View, White Oak, Stafford, Brooke, Aquia, Rockhill, Medic 6, Medic 11, Fredericksburg Fire, Safford Sheriff’s Office.

Chipotle opens to smiles in Stafford

Stafford, chipotle, virginia
chipotle-stafford-1chipotle-stafford-2chipotle-stafford-3chipotle-stafford-4chipotle-stafford-5

Chipotle Mexican Grill opened its doors at Stafford Marketplace on Monday.

It’s the first Chipotle to open in Stafford County, and the opening was celebrated with a line of hungry fans standing outside the door.

In addition to several Chipotle employees, Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va. 1) attended a ribbon cutting for the business, as did Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier.

The new restaurant faces Garrisonville Road and is part of a recent addition to Stafford Marketplace. A Verizon Wireless store will soon join Chipotle as its next door neighbor.

Chipotle employees spent the weekend getting ready for the big opening, however, no menu specials or discounts were planned for the event. A new Chipotle restaurant opens every two days, according to the company’s website.

Dudenhefer running to reclaim 2nd District seat in Stafford, Woodbridge

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, Woodbridge, got high marks from the Prince William Chamber for his support of an $800 million transportation package approved this year in the Virginia General Assembly. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

072914-First-on-pl

 

Transportation key to Dudenhefer’s campaign 

Mark Dudenhefer seeks to reclaim his seat in the House of Delegates representing Stafford and Woodbridge.

It will be Dudenehfer’s third time running for the seat, one he held for one term after being elected in 2011. He later lost to Delegate Michael Futrell in 2013.

The Republican and former Chairman of the Stafford County said transportation will be a key issue during his campaign to reclaim the seat.

“I left office two years ago, and there were a lot of transportation projects that were fully funded and moving forward,” said Dudenhefer.

Since that time, however, some projects in Northern Virginia were placed under review by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond. The Board pulled some a portion of funding away from the some projects and moved into a special trust fund until a state-level review of projects was complete, following the election of Gov. Terry McAuliffe. 

Stafford interchange

Dudenehfer said the planned construction of a $184 million interchange at Courthouse Road and Interstate 95 in Stafford County will do wonders to move the region forward. A total of $5 million was pulled from the project and placed into the trust fund, and fewer funds means that work to build commuter parking lot slated to be built as part of the project won’t happen unless officials at the county level can find new sources of funding.

The interchange is one of 30 projects under review.  The project lies just outside the 2nd House District that encompasses a portion of northern and western Stafford County, and a portion of Woodbridge in Prince William County. Dudenhefer says transportation is a regional issue that is larger than the concerns of any one politicians’ district.

“I fought very hard to get the new HOT lanes extended from Dumfries to Garrisonville,” said Dudenehfer.

He lobbied Transurban, builder of the new EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95, to build two lanes – one more than was originally planned  – when extending the current HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road. The new lanes are scheduled to open this month.

During this time in office, Dudenehfer supported a study of extending Metro to Woodbridge. He also sided with then Gov. Bob McDonnell on a landmark transportation bill that was to raise some $880 million for new transportation funding.

While those estimates have fallen short due to, in part, declining fuel prices, Dudenhefer said someone needs to hold Richmond accountable for how much money is spent, and on what projects are funded. If elected, he’ll look into what has stalled construction of a new bridge at Route 123 and Route 1 in Wooodbridge that was supposed to provide better access to the developing Belmont Bay neighborhood.

Stafford, Prince William vote differently

While he’s made no official announcement, Futrell will seek a seat in the Virginia Senate, according to an official with the Virginia House Democrats. Futrell lives in the 29th District, the seat of retiring State Senator Charles Colgan who has served in Richmond since 1976. Two other Democrats, Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike, have both announced they will compete for the seat.

The chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee said it has has new candidate to run against Dudenhefer who will officially announce in January. 

In 2013, Futrell won the election with over 1% of the total vote. He relied heavily on Democratic voters in Prince William to carry him into office.

The split between voters in Prince William and Stafford counties couldn’t have been more apparent. In Prince William, Dudenhefer scored just 34% of the vote while in his home County of Stafford he won 64% of the vote.

The Republican admits he’ll need more votes in Prince William County this time around to win.

“I failed to get out in Prince William last time,” he said. “I’m going to get out and be on the door steps and talk about the issues that are important to residents.”

“Stafford’s issues are a bit different that Prince William’s, and I don’t think the two sets of issues conflict with each other, and you can deal with them mutually,” added Dudenehfer.

First Chipotle in Stafford Opens Monday

Chipotle, restaurant, virginia

Chipotle opens new restaurant every two days

Employees on Saturday night were putting the finishing touches on Stafford County’s very first Chipotle restaurant.

The popular fast-food restaurant chain that allows customers to walk up to the kitchen and choose what they want in their oversized burritos, bowls, and salads will open its doors at 11 a.m. Monday. Devoted fans of the restaurant chain and Stafford County officials are excited about the grand opening.

The restaurant, like most new Chipotles, is small. Lines of customers can stretch from the order counter to the front door. A lot of customers take their food and go.

“It’s great food, its great tasting, and its food with integrity. It’s food that you can you trust to eat with no antibiotics, it’s organic, and it’s a fresh taste made in here,” said Delmis Carcamo, of Springfield, who is the restaurant’s general manager.

For those new to Chipotle, they have a very limited menu of nearly football-sized burritos filled with rice, beans, chicken or pork or steak. The customers say what vegetables, salsa, and the restaurants coveted guacamole.

Fans can also get those same ingredients put into a “burrito bowl,” a burrito minus the tortilla. It’s the most popular item on the menu, said Carcamo.

It’s $7.21 for a burrito or a bowl with chicken, $7.95 with steak. There’s also a salad for those who don’t like rice.

The new Chipotle is the latest addition to Stafford Marketplace shopping center on Garrisonville Road. The restaurant faces Garrisonville Road, and it’s located next to what will be new Verizon Wireless store.

Chipotle is so popular and sought-after in Stafford that a Facebook page was created by restaurant fans who wanted the chain to open a location in the county.

Today, the restaurant will hold an invitation-only preopening party that will give employees a chance to learn the ropes with customers inside. On Monday, it’ll be business as usual with no grand opening menu special planned.

The restaurant chain is undergoing a massive hiring spree. According to the company’s website, a new Chipotle is opened every two days.

Stafford Fire & Rescue Gives 330 Coats to Children

stafford fire coats

The Stafford Fire and Rescue Department, and the Stafford Professional Firefighters Association Local 4012, distributed over 330 coats to children in need throughout Stafford County as a part of Operation Warm Firefighter Coat’s for Kids.

The success of this program is attributed to our partnership with Stafford County Public Schools, Apple Federal Credit Union, WAWA, Walmart, Stafford Ruritan, Stafford Rotary, American Legion Post 290, Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie 4123, Falmouth and Hartwood Volunteer Fire Departments, White Oak Rescue and donations from the citizens of Stafford County.

Pies Tossed at Stafford Teachers During Fundrasier

Mrs. Besceglia, School Principal, gets a pie in her face!

Dixon-Smith Middle School in Stafford County held a fundraiser to raise money for needed technology.

Students were asked to sell as many desserts as possible. As an incentive to sell more desserts, a “Pie in Your Face” event was held.

A total of 20 teachers volunteered to have a pie thrown in their face.

Students who sold at least one dessert were invited to watch. The students who sold the most desserts were chosen to be pie throwers.

The fundraiser raised $2,000. This money will be used to purchase needed technology at Dixon-Smith Middle School.

Futrell Eyes Senate, Won’t Seek Woodbridge — Stafford House Seat

Prince William Democrats identify new candidate to replace Futrell

After one term in the House of Delegates, Michael Futrell will run to replace the retiring Charles Colgan, who is currently Virginia’s longest-serving Senator in Richmond.

A new Democratic candidate that been selected to replace Futrell will make his official announcement in January, said Prince William County Democratic Committee Chairman Harry Wiggins. The unnamed candidate lives in Woodbridge, has been active in the committee, and will soon retire from his job at the Pentagon in Arlington.

Republican Mark Dudenhefer, whom Futrell unseated to win the 2nd District seat, is has told fellow Republicans he will seek to retake the seat but has made no formal announcement. Dudenhefer said that Futrell called him last night and told him he would not seek reelection in the 2nd District.

“What you learn quickly when you start doing this is people try to dictate what your schedule of things is before you even have a chance to think about them. This is not about me, this is about the people and we’re trying to do the people’s work,” Futrell told Potomac Local on Tuesday night.

He did not say when he planned to make an official announcement that he would seek the Senate seat.

“I’ll send you an email when I decide to do it,” he said.

Futrell will enter an increasing crowded field among fellow Democrats who want Colgan’s old seat. Atif Qurni and Jeremy McPike have both sought office before, and will compete for the nomination of their party for the Senate seat.

Colgan, a Democrat, is the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate and served in the office since 1976.

Many Unfamiliar with EZ-Pass Express Lanes at Opening

ez pass express lanes

The 95 Express Lanes will open in December. We just don’t know exactly on which date drivers will need to be sure to have their EZ-Pass affixed to their windshields.

The two-and-a-half year project to convert the HOV lanes on Interstate 95 to toll or EZ-Pass Express Lanes, as well as build new lanes from Garrisonville Road north to Dumfries, is coming to an end.

Gov. Terry McAulliffe is scheduled to speak on Dec. 10 at the ceremonial opening of the express lanes. He’ll be joined by Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane, as well as County Board of Supervisors Chairmen Sharon Bulova, of Fairfax and Corey Stewart, of Prince William.

However, the lanes will not open to traffic until sometime after that date, said project spokesman Michael McGurk.

All drivers who use the lanes will need an EZ-Pass or an EZ-Pass Flex inside their car. The lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, and carpoolers with three or more people inside the car will travel free with the EZ-Pass Flex. The pass be switched between a carpool mode that tells the road’s all-electronic tolling system there are three people inside the car, or to single-driver mode to incur a charge.

Toll rates will vary depending upon how much traffic is in the lanes, just like the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 495 between Springfield at Dulles Toll Road.

New research from the builders of the lanes, Fluor-Transurban, and from the Virginia Department of Transportation, shows drivers are unprepared to use the new lanes.

Here’s more in a press release:

Only 32 percent of carpoolers have an E-ZPass Flex:

  • All drivers will need an E-ZPass to use the Express Lanes.  Carpoolers will need an E-ZPass Flex and three or more passengers to travel toll-free.
  • E-ZPass and E-ZPass Flex are available at 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores; at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824.   Only 51 percent of 95 drivers know that the Express Lanes will be reversible and just over half (55 percent) understand that the Express Lanes will replace the existing HOV lanes on I-95:
  • The existing HOV lanes are being converted to Express Lanes.  The lanes will reverse as they do today.  Learn more about the lane reversal scheduleNearly a quarter of I-95 drivers think the tolling and HOV-3+ requirements will only be in effect during rush hour:
  • The Express Lanes rules of the road are in effect 24/7.  Read more about the new rules.
     
    Less than a quarter of I-95 drivers are aware of what happens at the transition area on I-395 just north of Edsall Road where the Express Lanes end and the I-395 HOV lanes begin :

  • North of the 95 Express Lanes, the rules on the I-395 HOV lanes will be the same as they are today.
  • When the HOV restriction is in effect, drivers traveling alone or with one passenger will need to exit from the Express Lanes to avoid entering the HOV lanes.
  • HOV-3+ and eligible clean fuel plate vehicles can travel in the I-395 HOV lanes as they do today.
  • For more information about the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395, visit:  95ExpressLanes.com/transition.

Stafford Wants Left Turn Lanes on Route 1 at Courthouse

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Improvements also coming to Routes 1 & 610, Mountain View Rd.

What’s going to make traffic run smoother on Route 1 in front of Stafford County Courthouse?

The answer is dedicated left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and at the intersection of Bells Hill and Hope roads, according to a county report.

The stretch of Route 1 at the heart of the county is one to avoid on weekday afternoons when traffic backs up at one of the two signal lights in the area. With dedicated left turn lanes, drivers turning left will be able to pull their cars into those lanes and not stall other drivers going straight or turning right.

The Bowman Consulting Group will be paid $798,431 to engineer the left turn lanes plan, according to the county report. The project will be divided into two phases – first constructing the left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and then constructing left turn lanes where Route 1 meets Bells Hill and Hope roads.

County officials say transportation is a “critical part of the county’s road improvement plan and redevelopment plan.” Several streetscape improvements, such as new sidewalks and streetlights, have been installed in the area around the courthouse.

The county is also looking at improving other failing intersections. At the intersection of Route 1 and Garrisonville Road (Route 610), officials propose adding additional right turn lanes from Route 1 south to Route 610 west to cut down on congested traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

On Mountain View Road, the lanes are being widened to a consistent 12 feet wide on a 1.3 mile stretch of the two-lane road from Joshua Road to Rose Hill Farm Drive. The road’s shoulders will also be wider, increasing from their current one to two feet in some places to eight feet wide throughout the 1.3-mile stretch of road.

County officials said drivers will be able to maintain a “safe” speed limit of 40 miles per hour along the improved portion of the road when work is complete. Drivers should also notice improved curves and sight distances after the roadwork is completed.

Kids Pics Wanted for SERVE Charity Calendar

serve charity calendar

Pack N Ship owner printing charity calendars to benefit SERVE 

When he bought Pack N Ship Store, the first thing he wanted to do was give back.

Liam Hainsworth came to the U.S. and purchased the packaging store inside the Aquia Park shopping center on Route 1. A native of England, Hainsworth was told a story about a local family that went without fresh water or electricity inside their home for three months.

Then he learned about SERVE, of Stafford, a non-profit agency that runs a food pantry, provides financial assistance to families in need, and also provides cut firewood for those who need it, from his assistant Regina Dick. SERVE provided assistance to the needy family. 

Then Hainsworth came up with the idea: Print a calendar with photos drawn by local children, featuring SERVE’s contact information on all of its pages, to benefit the non profit.

“As Christmas is around the corner, it’s sometimes easy to forget that families within Stafford will struggle to bring food to the table, and this is something we aim to address in our charity calendar campaign,” said Hainsworth.

Now through Sunday, Nov. 30, Pack N Ship store is now accepting hand-drawn pictures to be judged for submission into the 2015 calendar. The pictures should be drawn on 11 and a half inch paper, have the child’s name, age, and address printed on the back. A total of 12 photos will be chosen for the calendar.

“When people see calendar people see us all the time, we need awareness all the time,” said Marilyn Stevens, who runs the SERVE program. “We’re going to be seen 365 days per year on the calendar, and you can’t get any better than this.”

Stevens said she jumped at the chance to participate in the charity calendar project. When they’re printed, SERVE will distribute them to area Rotary and Lions clubs as well as Boys and Girls Scout troops.

Pack N Ship Store is located at 2796 Jefferson Davis Highway, #111 in Stafford.

Hainsworth purchased the Pack N Ship store on Oct. 1. 

7 New Stafford Deputies Graduate

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On Thursday, Nov. 20, seven new deputies for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office graduated from the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy Law Enforcement Officer Basic Class #132.

These seven individuals were Deputy Jason P. Aubry, Deputy Brandon A. Boyle, Deputy Timothy S. Clayborn, Jr., Deputy Moises J. Martinez, Deputy Cody L. McCormick, Deputy Mikel J. Reyna and Deputy Catherine E. Whited.

These deputies joined 22 other law enforcement professionals who also graduated representing numerous law enforcement agencies through-out the region.

Deputy Cody McCormick was the recipient of the Top Skills Achievement Award and was also selected to be the Class Leader. Senior Deputy James Kingman, a Stafford County Deputy for eight years, also an instructor at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy, was selected by the recruits to be the featured speaker at the graduation ceremony.

Stafford 350th Anniversary Movie Premiers Dec. 1

Stafford will cap off a year of celebrating its 350th Anniversary with the world premiere of “Stafford, Virginia: Our American Story,” a film chronicling Stafford’s past, present and future. The film will be shown on Monday, December 1, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. at Mountain View High School, 2135 Mountain View Road, Stafford, VA 22556.

“When the Board of Supervisors started planning for the 350th Anniversary, we wanted to have the type of events that people would remember for years, as people remembered Stafford’s tricentennial in 1964,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Jack Cavalier, Griffis-Widewater District. “With the help of the Blue Ribbon Committee, our partners, sponsors, volunteers and citizens, we have succeeded beyond what I could have imagined. This movie is the exclamation mark to our year and serves as a lasting legacy that documents where Stafford County has come from and where it is going.”

The movie documents early life with the Patawomecks in Stafford County through colonial times, the Civil War, desegregation and up to modern times with glimpses of the people who will shape our future. The premiere will be a true Hollywood-type event complete with a red carpet and light refreshments showcasing the skills of the Mountain View High School culinary program.

“This film is the most historically accurate and comprehensive film on Stafford’s history that has ever been produced,” said Harry Crisp, chairman of the 350th Anniversary Blue Ribbon Committee. “Nine local historians worked on this project and reached a consensus with their accumulated knowledge on every historic event depicted in the movie. It was truly a labor of love and will be a treasure for the community for years to come.”

The list of experts who worked on the project includes well-known local historians: Jane and Al Conner; Jerrilyn and Rick MacGregor; John Hennessy, Chief Historian and Director of Interpretation for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Frank White; Becky Guy and William Deyo, members of the Patawomeck tribe; and D.P. Newton, proprietor of the White Oak Civil War Museum.

Produced by Signature Communications, the movie was written and directed by Signature’s president John Allen. The Legacy and Education Subcommittee of the 350th Anniversary, under the guidance of Blue Ribbon Committee members David Kerr and Cessie Howell, oversaw the project. Sponsors of the movie are Dominion Virginia Power, Intuit and Walmart helped fund the movie.

The movie follows a packed year of events that celebrated Stafford’s 350th Anniversary. In January, citizens and visitors enjoyed a history presentation, musical entertainment and an ice skating rink at Celebrate Stafford 350. Thousands of people enjoyed the Founders Day parade and Stafford County Schools Fine Arts Festival that took place over a weekend in May. Musical and theater acts headlined the grand opening in June of Celebration Stage, Stafford’s beautiful new amphitheater. Stafford’s military heritage was honored in October at the annual Wings and Wheels event. Stafford’s African-American history was highlighted in November on the Trail to Freedom Tour and by the unveiling of the Rowser African-American History Wall.

Admission to the premier of “Stafford, Virginia: Our American Story” is free and no tickets are required. Following the premier, members of the public may receive free copies of the movie by visiting the Citizens Assistance Office at the George L. Gordon, Jr., Government Center, 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554.

Stafford Renews $14K per Month Court Docs Contract

There is money to be made in the business of courthouse documents.

Stafford County renewed its contract with Logan Systems, Inc., where the county pays the company $14,000 per month for the outsourced electronic record conversion services for the county’s Circuit Court, where land records are kept for the public.

State law requires information such as social security numbers be redacted from all electronic land documents, electronic records of deed books, wills, and plats all be kept electronically, and all electronic images are indexed to be filed in the Virginia State Library, according to county documents.

The monthly rate has not increased since Stafford County entered into a contract with Logan Systems seven years ago.

The Stafford County Clerk of the Circuit Court operates on a $1.5 million annual budget, according to the county’s annual budget. The payment to Logan Systems is about 11% of the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s annual budget.

Stafford’s neighbor to the north, Prince William County, spends a total of $1 million of that county’s $3.8 million Clerk of the Circuit Court budget is allocated to records management. Spotsylvania County to the south operates its Clerk of the Circuit Court on a $904,000 budget.

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