Stafford Deputies Commended for Bravery after Armed Barricade


[Photo: Stafford sheriff's office]

[Photo: Stafford sheriff’s office]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Sheriff Charles E. Jett says 2nd Lt. Brian Jacobs, 1st Sgt. Neal Robey & 1st Sgt. David Stout are two of th bravest men and women who work at the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

Both law enforcement officers were called to a barricade situation last year in Spotsylvania County where an armed man barricaded himself in his home. One Stafford sheriff’s deputy was shot and later recovered. Department officials declined to tell Potomac Local News the name of the deputy who was shot.

Jacobs and Robey were honored along with 43 others at a recent department award ceremony in Stafford County.

“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect the citizens of Stafford,” said Jett in a press release.  “The awards ceremony is an opportunity to formally acknowledge their extraordinary efforts and show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication.”

In addition to outstanding bravery, awards were also given for deputies who exercised good judgement, outstanding performance, and those who prevented motor vehicle crashes.

The following personnel received awards:


2nd Lt. Brian Jacobs, 1st Sgt. Neal Robey & 1st Sgt. David Stout are all recipients of a Medal of Valor for knowingly placing their lives in peril of death while saving the lives of two fellow deputies who had been shot by a heavily armed male who had barricaded himself in his residence.

1st Lt. Joseph Pitman, Sgt. Joeseph Bice, Sgt. William Walker, Detective Kurt McBride, Deputy First Class Kevin Lytle Jr.,  Deputy First Class Johnny Miller, Deputy First Class James Kingman, Deputy First Class Jason Forman, Deputy First Class William Johnson and Deputy First Class Bryan Mabry are all recipients of the Silver Star for knowingly placing themselves in great personal risk, under fire, while attemptingto take a heavily armed subject into custody who was armed with numerous rifles and handguns.

Sgt. Brian Smyser and Senior Detective Angelo Irizarry are recipients of a Letter of Commendation for the investigation and ultimate conviction of 5 co-conspirators of the Bloodline Imperial Gang working both inside and outside the Rappahannock Regional Jail.  These gang members were charged with gang participation, inciting riots and felony assault.

Senior Detective Nick Chiappini is a recipient of a Meritorious Award forleading an investigation that led to 99 indictments spanning the distribution of schedule II narcotics, insurance fraud and involuntary manslaughter against a local doctor.

Sgt. Brian Smyser, Detective First Class Sarah Montgomery and Senior Detective Mark Steininger are recipients of a Letter of Commendation for their exemplary work on an investigation that led to 99 indictments spanning distribution of schedule II narcotics, insurance fraud and involuntary manslaughter against a local doctor.

1st Sgt. Eric Quinn and Sgt. Chris Cameronare recipients of Meritorious Award for leading an investigation that led to the recovery of narcotics, discovery of a body and three co-defendants who were charged with distribution of narcotics and 1st Degree Murder in a cold case that occurred in 2007.

1st Sgt. John Hughes and 1st Sgt. Chad Oxley are recipients of a Letter of Commendation for their outstanding efforts in solving a cold case from 2007 that led to three individuals being charged with the distribution of narcotics and 1st Degree Murder.

Senior Detective Edgar McCullough is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his exemplary efforts in solving over 100 related larceny cases involving several individuals.

Master Detective Mark Steininger, Senior Detective Nick Chiappini and Detective First Class Sarah Montgomery are recipients of a Letter of Commendation for their solving in what began as a burglary but eventually led to the arrest of multiple individuals involved in a heroin distribution conspiracy.

Deputy First Class Kevin Lytle Jr. and Deputy Joshua “Bo” Truslow are recipients of a Letter of Commendation for their outstanding efforts in solving numerous larcenies while also maintaining their roles as Patrol Deputies.

1st Sgt. Lee Peters, Deputy Bradley Cook, Deputy Rinaldy Mervil, Deputy First Class Walter O’Neal II, Officer Rusty Daymude (Aquia Harbour Police Department) and Deputy Rodney M. Stamm Jr.  are all recipients of the Meritorious Award for using CPR to save numerous citizens’ lives in separate incidents.

Deputy First Class Robert Parsons is the recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his investigation that led to the arrest of a woman charged with forgery, larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses.  These crimes occurred against an elderly woman living in a nursing home.  This was done while still maintaining his role as a Patrol Deputy.

Master Detective Mark Steininger is a recipient of a Meritorious Award for his ability to keep a high risk suspect detained and under control at the same time a large dog had bitten and attached himself to Master Detective Steininger’ s hand.

Deputy First Class Brandon Gates is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his ability to investigate and solve four separate larceny cases while maintaining his responsibilities as a Patrol Deputy on the road.

Master Deputy Alex Smith is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his exemplary work in the solving of a case involving the rape of a juvenile victim.  Master Deputy Smith’s investigation led to the identity and location of the suspect.

Detective First Class Barry Surles is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his work that led to the arrest and conviction of a man who had raped his step-daughter multiple times over the last 10 years.  The man’s name was fictitious and he was also wanted for the sexual assault against two other juvenile victims outside of Stafford County.

Detective Patricia Tudor is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for her outstanding efforts that led to the ultimate conviction of a mother for one count child neglect and the grandmother for 4 counts of cruelty to children.  The convictions were for the deliberate burning of two young children’s’ hands and arms over a hot stove.

Senior Detective Michelle Gibbons is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for her hard work, many hours and investigative expertise in solving a home invasion robbery which involved the shooting of two victims.

Detective Patricia Tudor, Detective Darrell Wells and Senior Detective Michelle Gibbons are recipients of a Letter of Commendation  for their exemplary efforts in solving a case involving the wish of a male subject to have sex with the complainant and her daughter.  Ultimately a sting was set up that brought this individual to justice before he could hurt any young child.

1st Sgt. Robbie Grella, Sgt. Daren Volpe and Detective Kurt McBride are recipients of the Meritorious Award for the sting operation they initiated that brought to justice one of the most violent sex traffickers ever encountered in the eastern United States.  These three men also received an award from the United States Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Virginia for this very important case.

Deputy Nick Zotos is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for the outstanding way he handled an especially difficult incident that involved a suspect who was trying to kill himself after brutally attacking a female victim.  The suspect stabbed himself and had slit his own throat and Deputy Zoto’s efforts prevented the male suspect from dying.

1st Sgt. Lee Peters, Master Deputy Mike Powell Senior Deputy Burton Collins, Deputy First Class Jason Forman, Deputy First Class William Johnson, Deputy First Class William O’Neal II and Deputy Bradley Cook are recipients of a Unit Citation for their overall efforts in the areas of crash prevention, occupant safety and citizen education that significantly reduced the number and severity of crashes in Stafford County.

Deputy Brandon Gates is the recipient of the Traffic Safety Award for the Patrol Unit for his work in numerous areas of traffic safety on the roads of Stafford County.

Master Deputy Mike Powell is the recipient of the Traffic Safety Award for the Traffic Safety Unit for overall excellence in traffic safety and traffic safety education.

Detective First Class Eric Chinault is a recipient of a Letter of Commendation for his investigation that ultimately prevented an upset student from bringing a gun to his private school with the intended purpose of shooting two classmates.

Mr. Neil Mayhew is the recipient of the Community Service Award for his tireless efforts and can –do- attitude as the Volunteer Leader for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team.

Mr. Randy Shockey is the recipient of the Community Service Award for his 23 year tenure as the Chairman of the Stafford Crime Solvers Board.

Taser Used on Naked Man


STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — When he started breaking things and taking off his clothes, police said that’s when the 911 caller picked up the phone.

A man was taken into custody about 6:15 a.m. Sunday outside a home on Mountain View Road in Stafford County. The suspect came to the house and began yelling frantically at those inside.

But his words didn’t make much sense which lead those inside the house, and sheriff’s deputies who eventually arrived at the house, to believe he was on some type of hallucinogenic drug, said Stafford sheriffs spokesman Bill Kennedy.

A deputy confronted the suspect in the front yard of the house. The man was naked and yelling at the law enforcement officer who told the suspect to lie down on the ground, said Kennedy.  The man ignored him and deputy then used a taser weapon to shock the man and then arrest him.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital and treated.

The occupants of the home said the man came over to the house and began yelling at them and then began breaking things. He also took off his clothes, and that’s when 911 was called, said Kennedy.

The occupants inside the house knew the suspect but had not seen him in months, said Kennedy.

Travis Cooke, 20, of Waters Cove Court in Stafford, faces charges of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, said Kennedy. He was held in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

Stafford Explores Acquiring Abandoned Home on U.S. 1, Demolishing It, Erecting Traffic Light


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — The donation of a home could lead to a better, safer U.S. 1.

Stafford County leaders are expected to learn more this week about a home at 3298 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Stafford. The home on the corner of U.S. 1 and Woodstock Lane is owned by Janet Borden, and the total property is valued at $114,300, according to county documents.

The house sits on the opposite corner of Taylor’s Grocery / Aquia Creek Outfitters.

If donated, the home would be demolished to make way for an improved intersection that would include a signal light at U.S. 1 and Woodstock Lane. This would mean drivers traveling on nearby Telegraph Road who are used to going to the southernmost point of Telegraph Road and turning onto U.S. 1 — an intersection that sits at a dangerous angle — could instead turn onto Woodstock Lane from Telegraph Road, and then turn left onto U.S. 1 south or right onto U.S. 1 north.

It would remove the need for drivers to make a turn at a dangerous intersection where Telegraph Road meets U.S. 1 at the Aquia Crucifix, a monument symbolizing the Brent Colony in Stafford County that encouraged members of all faiths to settle in the area in the 1640s.

“Drivers going south of Telegraph Road are forced to make a left turn on Route 1 at what is an intersection that is at a bad angle, which makes it hard to make a left turn,” said Stafford County Deputy Administrator Keith Dayton.

There is not a signal light at the intersection at the crucifix, and making current traffic conditions worse is ongoing roadwork on a bridge that carries traffic on U.S. 1 over Aquia Creek. Traffic backs up here, especially when drivers on a congested Interstate 95 jump onto U.S. 1 during rush hour.

VDOT is studying just how much a signal light at U.S. 1 and Woodstock Lane would cost as well as how it would be built, said Dayton. The results of the study could be made available in about two weeks.

Improvements will also need to be made to Woodstock Lane. Currently, the narrow road is a difficult one for large vehicles to travel.

“It’s hard for school buses to get down the road because it’s so narrow and it’s almost impossible for big trucks to turn onto it,” said Dayton.

The house at 3298 Jefferson Davis Highway is not occupied at this time and is uninhabitable, according to county documents. Stafford would pay all closing costs for the sale as well as cover the $10,000 cost of demolishing the house.

*This story has been corrected.

Roads Leading to Widewater State Park a Concern



NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — The quiet and serene beauty of the confluence of the Potomac River and Aquia Creek will soon be changed with the construction of a new state park.

Widewater State Park is to be built on the Widewater Peninsula in Stafford County. It will become the county’s first Virginia State Park.

Most residents who live in homes on private lots on the peninsula’s Widewater Beach, and along the Potomac River, say the park is the best possible use of the land, opting for it rather than letting developers have it for waterfront homes.

But the narrow, winding, downright dangerous roads that will lead to the park need to be fixed.

The land where the state park will eventually sit remains heavily wooded. To get there, drivers must turn off U.S. 1 onto Telegraph Road at North Stafford’s Boswell’s Corner then turn on Widewater Road which will take them nearly to the Potomac River’s shoreline. The road then becomes Arkendale Road and runs alongside heavily used railroad tracks used by Virginia Railway Express, Amtrak, and CSX trains.

“Along the railroad tracks, I’ve learned to stay to the right as far as you can get with those hills,” said Stephen Beauch, a Widewater Beach resident of 30 years who is describing his drive to his home along the narrow road. “…I’m over to the right as far as I can, and as soon as I come up over the hills, there’s a state trooper coming right at me going 50 mph in the middle of the road. I had to go into the ditch.”

The trooper wasn’t chasing anyone, said Beauch. The speed limit is 45 mph along the road.

The park will be built in three phases, the first of which includes boat launches, a fishing pier, as well as trails. Later phases will include a visitor center and campgrounds.  Residents fear the roads are an accident waiting to happen.

“Don’t come down here and do the park infrastructure and forget about the roads because you’re going to have a lot of safety issues to deal with,” said Nan Rollison, a Widewater Beach resident who retired from a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rollison is very familiar with the plans for the park and seems to serve as the unofficial mayor of Widewater Beach. She says there are two sources of state funding to build the park — a pot for construction of the actual park infrastructure and a pot for road improvements.

She’s unclear what monies, if any at this time, are have been made available by the state.

Bill Conkle, a spokesman for Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation in Richmond is also unclear. He referred Potomac Local News to someone at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge — the park that Widewater State Park is modeled after — to answer questions about road funding but they did not return our request for comment.

Those who do drive to Widewater Beach usually end up asking someone where the park is.

“It’s right here. You’re parked in front of it,” said Beauch. “But There’s no facilities. Not even an out house.”

The land for Widewater State Park was purchased in 2006. Neighbors said a water treatment facility was going to be built along the river until someone came up with idea of making it into a park.

Last year, officials presented a master plan for the park — a comprehensive document that is required before anything can be built on the land. They held a public meeting in North Stafford to show residents the plans for the park and get feedback.

On June 19, state parks officials will return to North Stafford to discuss changed to the master plan. They want to gather feedback from the public the proposed changes:

The amendment calls for the relocation of several facilities that are proposed in the master plan. To protect underwater vegetation, a boat launch and fishing pier that were to be built on Aquia Creek would instead be built on the Potomac River side of the park. In order to balance development, the visitor center and offices would be built on the Aquia Creek side of the park rather than the Potomac side.

The amendment also calls for a reconfiguration of roads, relocation of a proposed contact station and canoe launch, and construction of an additional fishing pier.

Conkle said aquatic vegetation is common on the Aquia Creek side of the park. Hyrdilla, which is commonly found in creeks along the Potomac River, is rampant here, neighbors said.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m., at the Hilldrup Moving and Storage Training Facility, 4022 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Stafford.

VRE Offering Rides to D.C.’s July 4 Fireworks Show

121212 VRE

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — It’s been 10 years since a Virginia Railway Express train rolled on the 4th of July.

This year, VRE trains will once again bring passengers from Virginia to Washington’s Union Station so they can attend the National Mall Independence Day Celebration, which offers the area’s most spectacular fireworks show, or A Capitol Fourth concert to be held on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

“We hadn’t done it in 10 years so we said ‘let’s give it a try again,’” said VRE spokesman Bryan Jungwirth.

Two “Firecracker Special” trains will run this Independence Day – one on the Fredericksburg line and the Manassas line, leaving the Leeland Road station in Stafford County at 3:45 p.m., and the Manassas Park station at 4:45 p.m., respectively.

The Fredericksburg line train will serve several stations along the line to include Leland Road, Brooke, Quantico, Woodbridge, and Lorton, and the Manassas line train will serve the Manassas Park, Burke Centre, and Backlick Road stations.

Both trains will drop off passengers at Union Station – the Fredericksburg train at 5:34 p.m. and the Manassas train at 5:58 p.m. It’s a about a 20 minute walk from Union Station to the National Mall where the Independence Day festivities are held.

Fireworks begin at 9:10 p.m. and last for a full 17 minutes. They’re launched from the base of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln and World War II memorials and the Washington Monument.

After the show, VRE passengers will need to head back to Union Station to catch their trains. The Fredericksburg train leaves at 10:45 p.m. and the Manassas train at 11 o’clock.

There’s a total of 1,000 tickets on sale for each train. Each round-trip ticket cost $10 and can be purchased online.

A total of 392 tickets for the Fredericksburg train and 142 tickets on the Manassas train had been purchased as of Thursday afternoon. The trains will still run as scheduled even if the tickets do not sell out.

“We might run less cars on the trains if the tickets don’t sell out but the trains will run,” said Jungwirth.

The Firecracker Special is one of three special events VRE will operate trains for this year. The railroad ran a special train at the Manassas Heritage Railroad Festival earlier this month, and it’ll run another special train for Clifton Day in October.

VRE hopes that some people who normally cannot ride the train to work are able to take a ride on the Firecracker Special.

Boswells Corner Road Work Ramps Up, Residents say Flooding at Homes Persists

A rendering of what Boswell's Corner in North Stafford could look like as the area continues to grow.

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A new bridge on Telegraph Road means drivers can get to work faster, and it has also led to more flooding at homes along the two-lane road.

Each time it rains, homeowners say water rushes into yards located next to a new bridge that carries drivers on Telegraph Road in North Stafford’s Boswell’s Corner from U.S. 1 to the large Russell-Knox Building on Quantico Marine Corps Base. The reconstructed bridge opened in March after being closed for nine months. It was rebuilt to accommodate new high occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 95 that runs beneath it.

“Under my house is horrible,” said Ola Jackson, 63, whose lived in the house all her life.

Water not only runs into Jackson’s yard but also up to and underneath her house where it pools. She’s had to drill holes into the bottom of her home to release the water, and a portion of the floor insider her home is wet.

“We’re trying to let it dry out so we can repair it,” said Jackson.

Kimberly Wood and her husband live near Jackson and bought their home on Telegraph Road five years ago. She’s says the neighborhood is quiet and that the young couple has put a lot of work into their home, so they don’t want to leave. They just want the mud problem to go away.

“There’s like a river the back yard – it’s pretty bad,” said Wood.

State transportation officials told Jackson and Wood last week they would look into who is responsible for the flooding, which could ultimately lead to a fix. Those same officials were also showing plans for new work that is about to begin on U.S. 1 near the new bridge, where some turn lanes will be created, extended, and some lanes widened to accommodate more traffic in the area.

Construction crews next month will begin taking all or part of seven parcels of land located on the east side of U.S. 1 at Telegraph Road, near the busy Quantico Corporate Center which is home to several businesses and a science and technology research park. A right turn lane from U.S. 1 north to Telegraph Road will be extended. A left turn lane from U.S. 1 south onto Telegraph Road will be widened, and that means the travel lanes of U.S. 1 north must be widened to accommodate the new lane widths.

A new turn lane from Telegraph Road to U.S. 1 south will also be added, improving the two-lane route drivers use to get on and off the military base.

The construction should be complete by September. It is not apart of a larger study that ultimately calls for widening U.S. 1 from four to six lanes from Telegraph Road to Joplin Road in Prince William County.

Wittman Wins Big in 1st District in Primary


UPDATE June 12, 2014

Rob Wittman (R, Va.-1) issued this statement to supporters upon his primary win in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District.

“It is a privilege to serve the people of Virginia’s 1st District, and I am honored that voters across the district selected me as their nominee today in the Republican primary. I look forward to continuing to serve the great citizens of the 1st District and advocating for common-sense, conservative solutions to the challenges we face.

“This is a critical year for America’s future and for our party. The upcoming elections provide a significant opportunity for the American people to fill the House of Representatives and the Senate with leaders who can get this nation back on track. I will be working hard to ensure that the voices of Virginians are heard in Washington.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers who have supported me by knocking on doors, talking to friends and family about the campaign, hosting and attending events, and calling fellow residents of the 1st District to remind them to vote. I am grateful for your support and look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead.”

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Rob Wittman (R-Va. 1) has handily defeated his opponent in today’s Republican Primary Election.

Republican Anthony T. Reidel lost to the incumbent Congressman by at least 52 points. Wittman has held the 1st District seat for the past eight years, which spans from Williamsburg to Stafford, and also includes portions of Prince William and Fauquier counties.

Reidel issued the following statement on his website:

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Rob Wittman on a well-run, clean campaign focused on the issues facing America’s First District and the country. And I look forward to helping our entire Virginia Republican Party ticket achieve victory in November.

“I would like to thank my family, friends, volunteers, donors, and the voters of the First District for their support and prayers. We have come a long way since January 7.

“While we came up short tonight, the cause of liberty will march on. For if we rely on ourselves, on each other, and on God, liberty will prevail.”

Riedel is a public relations specialist at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in Springfield. Anthony graduated from Gloucester High School and holds a BA in Communications from James Madison University. Prior to joining the National Right to Work Foundation in 2008, Anthony worked on Ron Paul’s presidential primary campaign.

Incumbent Wittman did not issue a statement on his website, and he used his social media channels to encourage residents to get out and vote before polls closed at 7 p.m. He will now face Democrat Norm Mosher, of Irvington, Va. in the General Election in November.

The biggest upset of the night came when Republican Eric Cantor (R, Va.-7) was ousted from his seat by Republican challenger David A. Brat, who beat Cantor by just nine points. Cantor has served as the House Majority Leader since 2011 and was the Minority Whip for the thee years prior to that. He represented the 7th District, which is comprised of Richmond suburbs and portions of the Shenandoah Valley, since 2001.

Closer to home in the 8th District in Arlington and Alexandria, 10 Democrats through their name into the ring to replace the long-severing Jim Moran who will retire at the end of the year. Automobile salesman Don Beyer won the majority of the vote with about 46%, with Patrick Hope coming in second with 18% of the vote.

The General Election will be held Nov. 4.

John ‘Johnny Mac’ McDonald Remembered



John “Johnny Mac” McDonald was buried at Quantico National Cemetery on Friday. But not before he was remembered by his colleagues from the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department, the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department, and several other area fire departments.

The Stafford’s sheriff’s office closed a portion of Va. 610 Friday afternoon as the procession moved its way from Mount Ararat Baptist Church where the memorial service was held to the cemetery.

McDonald was a fire chief at Stafford Volunteer Fire Department and worked as a career firefighter in Washington, D.C.

Expect Funeral Procession Today for Stafford’s Chief McDonald


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. –– Fire and rescue crews in Stafford County today will honor one of their own.

John “Johnny Mac” McDonald died in the line of duty working as a career Battalion Fire Chief at Washington’s Navy Yard on May 30. When not in Washington, McDonald served as a volunteer fire fighter at Stafford Volunteer Fire Department where he was Fire Chief.

He will be honored at 11:30 a.m. today at Mount Ararat Baptist Church on Va. 610 in North Stafford.

A video of the funeral service will be broadcast live and streamed on the church’s website.

There will also be a large funeral procession today along U.S. 1 and Va. 610 leading prior to the funeral. Here’s the latest from Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department:

On Friday June 6, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. a funeral will be conducted for John “Johnny Mac” McDonald, firefighter and past chief of the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department, who died in the Line of Duty on Friday, May 30, 2014. The funeral will take place at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, 1112 Garrisonville Rd, Stafford Va. with burial following at Quantico National Cemetery.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is providing an escort for the procession, however, due to expected attendance; traffic will be significantly affected in the following areas

Stafford County

Courthouse Rd West to Shelton Shop Rd between 9:15 and 10:15 a.m.

Garrisonville Rd from the 1100 block East to US -1 between 12:30 p.m. and 1:15 p.m.

The intersection of Garrisonville Rd and US-1 North to Joplin Rd between 1:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Plans Ready for U.S. 1 Improvements at Quantico Corporate Center

082711 boswells corner lights out

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — The Quantico Corporate Center on U.S 1 in North Stafford’s Boswell’s Corner is growing.

Now home to a group of technology firms, government contractors, and the new Stafford Research and Technology Park, the influx of people the center draws has prompted new transportation improvements for the four-lane highway on which it sits.

Tonight, federal and state transportation officials will present plans for improving the Boswell’s Corner area, where U.S. 1 meets Telegraph Road, which also serves as an entrance to Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Officials say they work to improve the following areas:

  • Design turning lane improvements based on the government provided conceptual plan;
  • Construct an eastbound Telegraph Road to southbound Rte 1 turning lane, on Telegraph Road West of U.S. Rte 1;
  • Lengthen the U.S. Rte 1 northbound left turn lane;
  • Provide connections to all driveways connecting to U.S. Route 1 and maintain access during construction.

Tonight’s public meeting is advertised as an open forum exchange between project officials and those who will work to improve the intersection. It will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at University of Maryland University College at Quantico Corporate Center, 525 Corporate Drive in Stafford.

Project officials have placed documents online for review.

Thomas Francis Villacres Charged with Sex Crimes


STAFFORD, Va. — A Florida man is sitting in a jail in that state charged with sex crimes police say he committed in Stafford County in the 1990s.

Here’s the latest in a press release:

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that a former Stafford County resident has been charged with multiple sex crimes against minors while a resident of Stafford County in the 1990’s.

Thomas Francis Villacres, age 53, of Rockledge, Florida was recently indicted by a Stafford County Grand

Jury with 48 Counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery, 48 Counts of Indecent Liberties with a Minor While in a Supervisory Role and 15 Counts of Object Penetration. In cooperation with and at the request of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, Villacres was arrested last night by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Brevard County, Florida  without incident.  He is currently incarcerated in Florida under no bond and awaiting extradition.

Thomas Villacres came to the attention of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office after information about the alleged abuse came to light while Villacres was undergoing a routine background check with the Federal Government.  Federal Authorities alerted the Sheriff’s Office and Detective Pat Tudor initiated an investigation.

The offenses occurred over an 8 year span in the 90’s involving 4 female juveniles who were ages 6-10 at the time of the assaults.  The female victims are now in their mid- 20’s.  In deference to the privacy of the victims no additional information about the victims is being released at this time.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is requesting that if any other individuals have had the type of contact with Thomas Villacres as described in this release to contact Detective Pat Tudor at 540-658-4450.  

Crash Prompts Major Delays Monday Afternoon

060314 crash

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Stuck in traffic on U.S. 1 or Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) Monday evening?

A crash involving four vehicles occurred just before 4:30 p.m. Several people were taken to an area hospital for treatment, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The crash forced the closure of all lanes of U.S. 1 and Va. 610 and caused major backups throughout North Stafford.

Authorities Search for Missing Unidentified Man in Need of Medical Attention


12:45 p.m.

The missing man was located, said Stafford sheriff’s office spokesman Bill Kennedy.

12:40 p.m.

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Authorities are searching for a 56-year-old man who is in need of medical attention.

A search and rescue team from Stafford County is searching a wooded subdivision near Falmouth.

The unidentified man walked away from his home and was last seen on Kelly Road near Truslow Road, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The man is white, 5 feet 6 inches tall, wearing black shorts and a gray shirt.

Boater: Channel Markers Unlit Near Area of Fatal Crash

Photo: KJ Mushung  / Potomac Local News

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Investigators on the scene of a deadly boat crash in Aquia Creek spent their Sunday on the river.

The crash victim was identified as 50-year-old John Gregory Apherly, of Coral Springs, Fla. A contractor who was in the area working at Quantico, he was on board the 19-foot Chaparral boat when it collided with a channel marker near the mouth of the creek where it meets the Potomac River about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Apherly was killed instantly, and another woman who was onboard suffered injuries that did not appear to be life threatening. She was treated at a local hospital and was released.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is leading the investigation and is being assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as local police agencies. After collecing information all day Sunday, they concluded that speed was a factor in the crash.

Agency spokesman Lee Walker said Monday that it could take weeks before the findings of their investigation are published.

Rob Sheffield has been boating on the Potomac River since 1964, and he says the lights on some of the channel markers in the area of the crash do not work properly. Sheffield was on his boat near the scene of the crash Saturday night and watched the rescue effort.

“When you’re on your boat at night you’re going out in a black area, could I say maybe he was not going that fast, maybe. But the boat was headed into the entrance of Aquia Creek which is one of the most dangerous anywhere on the river,” said Sheffield.

Sheffield says lights on two of the many channel markers at the entrance to Aquia Creek have been out for at least two weeks. In the past, he says he’s called the U.S. Coast Guard to report them not working and asks to have them repaired, and they usually are.

Walker said the investigation into the crash was ongoing and that he could not provide any specific information about channel markers that may or may not have been lit. The fixtures are common along area waterways and tell boat pilots where water is deep enough to safely operate their watercraft.

“People who navigate use them to navigate to and from their destination, they mark major entrances to waterways, in this case to Aquia Creek, they mark water depth,” said Walker.

The popular Aquia Landing Park beach sits near where the crash occurred. It was once known as Aquapo Beach and used as a Civil War railroad depot.

There are still several wooden pylons that extend upward from the river bottom. The pylons once supported a rail bridge and pier, and Sheffield says if boaters don’t turn wide when entering Aquia Creek they could strike them.

Experience on these waters also plays a role in safety.

“The buoy not being lit, and the guy not being from the area had to have had something to do with it,” said Sheffield.

Warner Campaigning in North Stafford Today

Virginia Senator Mark Warner introduces President Barack Obama at a campaign rally on Friday in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/

Virginia Senator Mark Warner introduces President Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Woodbridge. (Mary Davidson/

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Virginia Senator Mark Warner will come to North Stafford today to talk about his reelection bid.

The incumbent one-term Senator who previously served four years as Virginia’s Governor starting in 2002 announced he’s seeking relection in the U.S. Sentate on May 28.

After several stops around the state, Warner will stump at the Courtyard by Marriot at the Quanitco Corporate Center, at 375 Corporate Center Drive in North Stafford. It will be the last stop on a tour Warner dubbed the “Working Together Tour.”

“As Governor, Mark Warner helped bring nearly 130,000 jobs and helped Virginia earn the designation as the nation’s best state for business and the best-managed state. Elected to the U.S. Senate during the 2008 recession, Sen. Warner had a key role in successfully enacting bipartisan Wall Street reforms,” a press release stated. “Widely viewed as a consensus-builder in Congress, Sen. Warner has worked for greater fiscal accountability, and he is a bipartisan leader in promoting innovation and greater economic opportunity. Sen. Warner is a champion for Virginia’s small businesses, and a strong advocate for Virginia’s military men and women, our veterans and their families.

While Warner, a Democrat, is campaigning, state Republicans will hold a convention in Roanoke on Saturday to determine who will challenge Warner. Some of the known candidates include, Tony DeTora, congressional policy adviser, Ed Gillespie, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Shak Hill, a decorated combat pilot and owner of a financial services practice, and Chuck Moss, a businessman.

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Missing Teen Found in Curtis Memorial Park


STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. —  A teenager was found near Curtis Memorial Park was found this morning by Stafford County’s search and rescue team.

Here’s more in an unedited press release from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office:

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that a missing and endangered 17 year old female was located early this morning in a wooded section of Curtis Park in Stafford.

Stafford Deputies responded to an address on Tracey Lane in the Hartwood section of Stafford last night, Tuesday, May 27, at approximately 7:30 pm for a report of a missing 17 year old female with diminished intellectual capabilities. The teen had run away from her residence into the woods near her home.

Stafford deputies immediately initiated a search for the teen but were unable to locate her. Members of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Search & Rescue Team were activated as well as additional Sheriff’s Office personnel. A lengthy search was begun that would ultimately include a helicopter and bloodhound from the Virginia State Police as well as dogs from Dog’ East, a local volunteer organization that uses their dogs to assist in search and rescue missions and Stafford Sheriff’s Office K-9 units These resources worked all night in a coordinated effort to locate the teen.

This morning at approximately 6:30 am, a woman jogging in Curtis Park, heard the lost teen yelling for help and notified deputies in the area. After walking through very heavy brush, deputies and members of the Search & Rescue Team located the teen in the woods, in good condition, and returned her to her parents and waiting medical units who checked her condition.

“The combined efforts of the deputies, members of the Search & Rescue Team, assets from the Virginia State Police and an alert citizen worked together to find this young lady,” states Sheriff Charles Jett. “I am especially grateful to the men and women who volunteer to be a part of the Search & Rescue Team. Their willingness to help those in need, sometimes under very adverse conditions, is noted and appreciated.”

Storm Packs Lightning, Brings Down Tree, Causes Power Outages


A round of severe weather moved through the region tonight knocking out power to homes, and possibly causing a fire at a home in Haymarket.

Fire and rescue crews were called to Lawson Drive about 7 p.m. where a home caught fire about the same time a severe thunderstorm packing lots of lightning was moving through the area. According to initial reports, lightning could be the cause of the blaze but there is not yet any official word as to the cause of the blaze.

Fire and rescue crews quickly doused the blaze and were able to clear the scene about 8:15 p.m.

Another possible lightning strike reportedly caused a fire at an apartment on 14151 Cuddy Loop in Dale City, just off Prince William Parkway. Fire and rescue crews were called to the scene to investigate. No obvious signs of fire were found when crews arrived.

But rain continued to fall in our area, accompanied by high winds and a tremendous amount of lightning. It was enough to down a tree on Mine Road in Dumfries, closing it to traffic while emergency crews worked to remove the obstruction.

As the storm moved through, several power outages were reported in the area. About 400 customers who live near the Manassas Regional Airport and have with Dominion Virginia Power were reported to be without electricity. About 171 more in Nokesville were said to be without power.

In Stafford, 2,459 customers were reported to be without electricity following the storm.

Aquia Landing Named Best Restored Beach

Aquia Landing beach.

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Jamie Henshaw was looking for a place to exchange vows with her beau, Donnie Kelly, in front of family and friends.

A Stafford County resident, she thought about parks in Fredericksburg like the City Dock or Old Mill Park. But when she came to Aquia Landing on the Potomac River, things changed.

“I never even had thought about it before, I just thought it was some park in Stafford,” said Henshaw. “As soon as I came around the corner, it was wall-to-wall water.”

The county park is the site where the Potomac River meets Aquia Creek. Rich in history, the site is listed as a stop on the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape to their freedom in the 19th century.

Today, Aquia Landing has been honored as one of the four best restored beaches in the U.S. by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. The association looked at how localities have worked to restore beaches to stop erosion from storms, improved natural wildlife habitats, and attract beachgoers back to their shores.

Here’s what the association had to say about Aquia Landing:

The park location and adjacent bluff is an important heritage area to the Patawomack Native American Tribe (famous as the tribe visited by Captain John Smith and home clan of Pocahontas). It also is one of the earliest beach projects in the United States to use near shore breakwaters and the “headland beach” approach to protect eroding lands and to create a recreational resource.

Most significantly, the Aquia Landing restored beach has served the citizens of Stafford County and Northern Virginia for 27 years while weathering hurricanes and storms, with minimal need for maintenance, while amply fulfilling its intended purpose. Aquia Landing exemplifies how a small, “sheltered-shores” restored beach can be an important and vital part of the community it serves.

“We chose Aquia because this project combined two important aspects of beach nourishment: They combined off shore breakwaters with beach nourishment to enhance and protect a barrier beach while at the same time providing an enhanced recreation beach that is heavily used,” said Lee Weishar, Ph.D., chair of the Best Restored Beach Committee.

North Topsail Beach, N.C., Cocoa Beach, Fla., and Iroquois Point Beach in Oahu, HI were also chosen as top restored beaches. Quince Altman just moved back to the east coast after living on Oahi Island and was visiting Aquia Landing on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t say its as nice as the beaches in Hawaii. The sand here is a bit dirty, it doesn’t have the water clarity that Hawaii has, and there is debris in the water,” he said.

Aquia Beach is located 15 miles east of Stafford Courthouse at the end of Brooke Road. In addition to its quarter mile of beach, the park offers picnic pavilions and recreational areas. Alcohol is not allowed inside the park.

Renovated Curtis Park Pool Opens for Season


STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — It was 54 degrees at 8:30 Saturday morning. A a cool, not-so-perfect moment for the Stafford Stringrays youth swim team to be the swimmers inside the newly renovated Curtis Memorial Park Pool.

But despite the late-season chill in the air, and undoubtedly in the pool, they jumped in anyway.

Stafford County officials held a ribbon cutting for the newly renovated pool, where the deck around the large pool and children’s’ pool were repaired, and a new handicapped access ramp was added. Other improvements like new pool filters, pumps and valves were also installed at an overall cost of $1.1 million.

Work began last September at the end of last year’s summer swimming season.

“It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold,” said one swimmer in the water. “I’m dying in here,” cried another.

Their coach them told them to start swimming laps to warm up, and they did.

The pool is described as the crown jewel of the park which includes several playing fields, trails, picnic areas, a man-made lake, and a golf course. This marks the first time the pool has been renovated since the park opened in 1975.

For some, simply being at the pool brought back memories of their own childhood.

“I think back to the sixties when life guard chairs were made of wood and lifeguards were made of steel,” said one man. 

After speeches from Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Cavalier and Vice-Chairman Gary Snellings, members of a swim team were invited to jump through a ribbon and into the water, heralding the opening of the pool.

Members of the Curtis family who donated 100 acres of the Curtis Farm, and another 400 acres of land that was purchased by Stafford County that would become Curtis Memorial Park. Members of the Curtis family attended the ribbon cutting.

Steve Wayne Curtis, whose great grandparents owned the original farm, said the park is still a special place to visit.

“That was probably the biggest draw for us was the fishing lake. Me and my brothers spent our summers at the lake, and we were here every single day it was open,” said Steve Wayne Curtis.

Roger Curtis, Steve’s brother, as a child went fishing for 300 consecutive days, as well as lost a bicycle in the lake.

“It’s out there somewhere,” said Roger Curtis.

According to thier father, James Wallace Curtis, the original farm had to be liquidated and divided among the owners’ original 12 children. In the mid 1970s, James Wallace Curtis’ late brother began talks with Stafford County about turning the farmland into a county park.

Stafford Official: Fence Would Restrict Access to Falmouth Beach

Officials say a proposed split rail fence at Historic Port of Falmouth Park would restrict access to a popular beach on the Rapphannock River.

Officials say a proposed split rail fence at Historic Port of Falmouth Park would restrict access to a popular beach on the Rapphannock River.

FALMOUTH, Va. — There is a now a plan to improve the parking lot at the Historic Port of Falmouth Park, and with it restrict access to a popular beach on the Rappahannock River.

The proposed plan, with an overall $230,000 price tag, calls for building a split rail a fence in the park near the river shoreline. It’ll mean removing a fence and gate that now that sits at the park’s entrance on River Road.

Currently, the gate locks at dusk to prevent people from getting into the park. But, with no gate, and a fenced in parking lot, the lot would then be open to visitors 24-hours a day. Officials hope that could spur more small businesses to locate to Falmouth, and that lot would give customers a place to park their cars.

The river beachfront park is a popular summertime destination for swimmers. It can also a dangerous one where swimmers go for a dip at their own risk, as the river’s strong currents have claimed several victims to drowning.

“We were asked to look at an option to restrict use of the beach, and this is the option that we came back with,” said Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello.

The discussion of changing the face of Falmouth ramped up in March when the details of a new master interpretive plan was presented that calls for building a new monument that recognizes the slaves the crossed the Rapphannock in search of freedom on the Underground Railroad, as well a implementing a walking tour that educates visitors on some of Stafford County’s most historic places.

At that time, Hartwood District Supervisor Gary Snellings said the only way Falmouth could attract more business would be to close the beach.

New shrubs and trees would be planted along the river shoreline to give it a “more mature state,” as Stafford public works director Mike Smith said. The new vegetation would, in theory, keep people away from the shoreline.

But will new plants a split rail fence be enough to keep people away from the river?

“I remember as a kid a split rail fence wouldn’t stop me for a split second,” said Rockhill District Supervisor Cord Sterling. “I mean, it’s not really a hindrance. Do we really need to spend the money?”

Stafford County Parks and Recreation Director Jamie Porter says new black-coated aluminum lighting poles would also be added between King Street and River Road, as well as improved lighting on the Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail which runs through the Falmouth park.

Taxpayers would also have to pay $5,000 for an archaeological dig before a fence could be installed.

“This is something we have to have in the historical district every time we dig a new hole,” said Porter.

Currently there is no money budgeted for the Falmouth improvements which could take up to five years to compete, if implemented.

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