FREDERICKSBURG. Va. — The two major-party candidates in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District wasted no time Monday night highlighting how they differ on the issues.
Robert J. Wittman, the incumbent Republican representing residents from Prince William County, Fredericksburg, to Williamsburg slammed the federal healthcare mandate calling for its repeal and replacement with a new program.
“I think the problems with Obamacare speak for themselves,” said the Republican, just hours after double-digit increases were reported in insurance premiums for the coming year.
Increasing costs, increasing financial burdens on small businesses and the structure of the federal health care plan were all reasons Wittman said the measure must be repealed.
“Any time you have a [healthcare company] in charge you are not going to find a system that works in the best interest of the patient,” he added.
Rowe was quick to fire back saying Republicans have taken ineffective, “symbolic” votes to repeal the federal healthcare mandate, but offered no acceptable replacement plan.
“Republicans say they are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. They’ve got the repeal side down pretty good,” said Rowe “Symbolic votes to repeal healthcare won’t get anything done.”
Green Party Candidate Gail Parker was also on stage for the debate at The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg and said she would like to see a healthcare system that focused more on preventative and alternative measures so that fewer residents would rely on federal healthcare.
The audience inside Dodd Auditorium was partisan, with Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. Each faction cheered when their candidate catered to their base. Rowe garnered applause when he called for a debt-free college education.
“I’m 35 years old and still paying student loans, on top of payments that we’re making while we have three kids and paying a mortgage,” said Rowe.
He also called for lowering the overall cost of tuition, and for schools to help students identify their options early on for entrances to a four-year college, a vocational school, or access to military service.
Wittman called for creating more courses aligned with the needs of businesses, and more online courses to reduce college costs.
“It can’t be all bricks and mortar. That’s the expensive part of it,” he said.
Parker noted Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein has advocated for giving students struggling to pay back college loan debt a bailout.
“Instead of a bailout for Wall Street, it’s a bailout for students,” she said.
Parker also aligned herself with Donald Trump, who has called the federal election process “rigged” for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“When you have four political parties, and only two are allowed in the debates, I have to agree with Mr. Trump,” she said.
Wittman called for more oversight of voter fraud in the state, but “overall, is the system rigged? I don’t think it is at that level.” said Wittman.
Rowe quickly dismissed his voter fraud claims as GOP scare tactics. He also took Wittman — who said he doesn’t agree with all of Donald Trump’s statements — to task over his support of Donald Trump as the party’s Presidential nominee, citing recent claims by multiple women of sexual abuse by the millionaire.
“I’d like to hear you talk more about what you don’t agree with Trump about,” Rowe told Wittman.
The Republican never directly engaged his opponents on stage and replied Trump is the nominee of his party and that he was chosen by a primary process.
“I have not asked my opponents to disagree with their nominee…Mr. Trump was chosen by the voters, and I think this election is about what the voters in the 1st District want,” said Wittman.
Wittman seeks his fifth term in office. Elected in 2007, he’s served as Mayor of Montross, and was elected to the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors before serving in Congress. He will make a bid for Virginia Governor in 2017.
Rowe has served on the Bowling Green Town Council since 2015. He works as a mapmaker for the Stafford County Government.
Gail Parker spent 34 years as a federal employee, and 22 years as an Air Force Reservist. She’s sought election to the 1st District seat multiple times, each time running on a platform of railroad expansion to spur economic development.
A contractor working in the area of Hope Road and Summerwood Drive struck a TV cable causing to fall onto the street.
Stafford sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene for traffic control about 3:15 p.m.
Emergency crews from the county’s fire and rescue service called for the owner of the line to be notified so reparis could be made.
She and her opponent Dana Rienboldt aim to replace Emily Fallon who is sentenced to serve one year in prison after she stole more than $23,000 from the Anne E. Moncure Elementary School PTO, while she was the president of the organization.
Decatur: Responsible Fiscal Management, School Safety, Competitive Pay Scale for all employees
PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
First and foremost, ensuring that Stafford County is compensating our teachers and staff members appropriately as planned for in the market-based compensation plan. We need to develop replacement cycles for updating equipment including school buses and technology.
And finally, we need to continue and further develop sharing resources within the county which will improve our spending practices and reduce waste countywide. I’d like to add a resource officer in each middle and high school to improve relations and increase security as well as add a resource officer in each elementary school, as our county does not currently have one at any elementary school.
Decatur: The role of a school board member is to be the voice for the residents in their community. When brought together as a unified whole, the school board cohesively serves the county, helping the school system to operate efficiently and provide students with the best education possible for the taxpayers’ dollar. I believe each member should each bring unique experience and expertise along with a creative approach, and the wishes of the members of the community we represent to create and uphold a school system that stands out in the Commonwealth.
PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?
Decatur: I have 10 years of experience in managing schools, creating and balancing the schools’ budget, working with the accreditation process, school meals programs, hiring and training teachers and ancillary staff members, and building successful relationships with parents, students, and school systems throughout Virginia.
I also have the interpersonal skills necessary to facilitate an open dialogue that will begin to repair the relationship between the school board, board of supervisors and residents of our county. We simply must work together cohesively and responsibly to ensure that we make decisions for our county that will benefit all of us for many generations to come.
If I felt that those interests were being handled properly within our district, I wouldn’t be here asking for your vote. When irresponsible decisions are made in local government, they will directly affect our lives and when we’re talking about the school board, those decisions will directly affect my child’s education.
The mismanagement of millions of our tax dollars may not have affected the student’s in our county during the years in which it happened, however when we failed to give raises because that money was missing from the county’s budget, many wonderful teachers began leaving Stafford County and taking jobs elsewhere.
You will hear that the School Board was not given accurate information, however, I believe that it was the job of the School Board to cross check any reports they received to ensure all information was accurate and valid. When that failed to happen, repercussions became imminent for future students in our county, including my son and his peers.
I will not focus on the problems but rather the solutions that will set our school system back on the right path. I have the experience necessary to do so as well as an open mind and a fresh approach that will not only set us on the right path but will move our district ahead of all others in our educational practices.
STAFFORD, Va. — There was no final evening showing on Thursday.
By 5 p.m., the sign that hung on the front of the building had been removed. The lights inside the theater were dark, and trash had been strewed across the floor.
The doors to the Regal Aquia Cinemas 10 — the only movie theater in Stafford County, the place where for so many residents memories were made — is closed forever.
The theater will be demolished to make way for a new Harris Teeter grocery store at the newly redeveloped Aquia Town Center. New condominiums named 15 Aquia have been built, and the Harris Teeter will provide new shopping options for new residents and to those who live in the adjacent Aquia Harbour neighborhood.
A final showing at the theater was reported to take place Thursday. Multiple phone calls and an email placed by Potomac Local to Regal Entertainment group prior to Thursday went unreturned.
One Stafford County resident who posted to Twitter was saddened by the closing.
@PotomacLocal So much for a closing-forever party. Odd. Lots of memories there. Poof.
— NickZ (@nickz) October 21, 2016
Movie fans in Stafford County won’t be sad for long, however, as a new, expanded Regal Cinemas will be built on nearby Garrisonville Road.
The Regal Aquia 10 was built in 1989, according to the Stafford County Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office.
Problems with Virginia’s online voter registration portal this week prompted a federal judge to extend a voter registration deadline to Friday, October 21, 2016.
The Virginia Department of Elections has expanded hours in the wake of the ruling.
From Gov. Terry McAuliffe:
“I am pleased that the court has agreed with the request to extend Virginia’s voter registration period after unprecedented web traffic prevented many people from completing their registrations online before the original deadline. The Commonwealth will fully comply with the court’s order and extend our registration process online, in-person and through the mail.
“The Virginia Department of Elections and the Virginia Information Technology Agency have been working overtime since Monday night to expand the capacity of the system that allows Virginians to register to vote online, and I am confident that the steps we have taken will provide an improved experience to people who use it.
“However, I do want to urge Virginians who are interested in registering to vote to act as quickly as possible and, if they are able, to take advantage of all of the available ways to register to vote during this period, including visiting a local registrar’s office or a Department of Motor Vehicles office.
“Additionally, in the event that there are unexpected technology issues, we urge Virginians to contact the Department of Elections and indicate that they are attempting to register, so that staff can follow up and ensure that they make it through the process.
Local politicians reacted on Twitter:
Good news: voter registration in Va. has been extended until midnight this Friday! Make sure you are registered: https://t.co/x5QAeQWeOt
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) October 20, 2016
Virginia voter registration deadline has been extended to FRIDAY at midnight by the federal court. Get the word out!
— (((Scott Surovell))) (@ssurovell) October 20, 2016
A car flipped onto its side in the rural Arkendale section of Stafford County.
Rescue crews were called to the area of Arkendale and Widewater roads about 3:45 p.m. for a report of a car that had crashed into a wooded area.
Rescue crews arrived on the scene and told 911 dispatchers that they found a car lying on its side and that three teenagers appeared to have escaped safely.
The car was reported to be off the roadway and was not blocking traffic.
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — A man was trapped underneath car Tuesday after the vehicle fell on him at a Stafford County auto repair shop on Truslow Road.
Fire crews were called to the scene just before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
From Stafford fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle:
On October 18th at 1328 hours fire and rescue units responded to 11 Truslow Rd for a technical rescue. The caller reported a vehicle had fallen a male and he was trapped him under the vehicle. The first fire rescue unit arrived on scene at 1333 hours, the patient was no longer trapped. The patient was transported to MWH with life threating injuries.
The vicitim was taken to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, said Doyle.
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. President, will appear Sunday at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, states University spokeswoman Marty Morrison.
Green Party Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein will be speaking at a public forum at the University of Mary Washington campus in Fredericksburg on Sunday, November 6.
The event will be held in the Chandler Ballroom at the University Center from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Event is open to the public.
Stein and Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party, are running against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the November 8 General Election. Stein and Johnson were excluded from the recent series of presidential debates.
STAFFORD, Va. — The interchange at Interstate 95 and Courthouse Road in Stafford County will be reconstructed.
Virginia Transportation officials awarded a construction contract on Tuesday ot build a diverging diamond interchange similar to one being built in Haymarket.
A portion of Courthouse Road will be widened from two to four lanes, and a commuter lot on Courthouse Road will be moved and expanded.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board today awarded a contract worth approximately $99.9 million to Shirley Contracting Co., of Lorton, Va., to build several projects in the Courthouse Road area of Stafford County.
One project will reconstruct the existing Interstate 95 interchange at exit 140, Courthouse Road, as a diverging diamond interchange. The intersection of Route 1 and Courthouse Road will be relocated to the south to align with Hospital Center Boulevard.
Another project will widen Courthouse Road west of I-95. Courthouse Road will be widened to four lanes between Cedar Lane and Ramoth Church Road/Winding Creek Road.
Commuter parking will be expanded by approximately 500 spaces at the interchange. An existing Park & Ride lot at exit 140 will be relocated east of I-95. The project will expand capacity to around 1,000 parking spaces, and will add dedicated pickup and dropoff areas for buses and carpools. The existing number of commuter parking spaces, 545 spaces, will be maintained during construction.
Construction will begin in spring 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2020.
Press release from VDOT:
STAFFORD, Va. — The intersection of Route 628 (Ramoth Church Road) and Route 651 (Kellogg Mill Road) in Stafford County will be converted to an all way stop during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Stop signs will be installed on each corner of the intersection between midnight and 5 a.m. Wednesday. Stop bars will be painted on the pavement.
To warn motorists of the new all way stop, “New Traffic Pattern Ahead” signs with orange flags will be posted on all approaches. Flags will also be attached to the stop signs. These warning features will be left in place for approximately one month.
New pavement markings will be painted on Ramoth Church Road northbound to create two lanes approaching the intersection. Beginning Wednesday morning, motorists can choose from a shared left turn and through lane, or a right turn lane.
The all way stop is being installed to enhance safety. A review of the intersection’s crash history found installing an all way stop could reduce the number of crashes and injuries at this location.
STAFFORD, Va. — Food Lion has closed its doors in North Stafford.
The grocery store at 950 Garrisonville Road, at the Market at Shelton Shop, reopens on Friday as Weis Markets. The move comes as the Pennsylvania-based food chain purchased 10 Food Lion stores in the Stafford and Fredericksburg areas.
Other Food Lion stores in Stafford County to be converted are located at 2612 Jefferson Davis Highway, 736 Warrenton Road, and 282 Deacon Road.
More from Weis Markets:
The newly converted stores will offer a variety of local products in addition to the more than 3,000 Weis brand products, which offer brand name quality at an affordable price. Weis Markets has a long-standing history with local farmers and will continue to partner with local growers to provide shoppers with fresh and affordable food, including a wide selection of organic produce, baked goods, quality meats and fresh dairy items.
This is the Company’s second major acquisition in 2016. In August, it completed the conversion of five Mars Super Markets in Baltimore County, Maryland. Once the deals are complete, Weis Markets will have increased the number of its operating stores by more than 25 percent and will operate 204 stores in seven states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia.
Weis Markets plans to close and reopen each location quickly and efficiently to ensure that customers are faced with little inconvenience. This process is expected to take less than a week for each location. The following is a complete list of former Food Lion store locations Weis Markets intends to convert this fall.
Fire crews reported the boat fire extinguished at 1:55 p.m. Flames did not damage a nearby house in the area where the boat caught fire.
Crews called for booms to prevent fuel run off from the burning watercraft from seeping onto properties in the neighborhood.
Stafford County fire and rescue crews were called to boat fire in the 500 block of Hope Road.
The boat was reported to be fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived, sitting about 20 feet away from a garage at the house.
Dispatchers told fire crews the burning boat contained about 100 gallons of fuel.
A fire marshal was called to the scene to investigate the circumstances of the fire.
She lost it last November to Emily Fallon who is sentenced to serve one year in prison after she stole more than $23,000 from the Anne E. Moncure Elementary School PTO, while she was the president of the organization.
Reinboldt: 1) Fiscal Management of Stafford County Public Schools, 2) Reducing Class Sizes, 3) Competitive salaries to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and staff.
PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?
Reinboldt: Representing the Griffis-Widewater District entails participating in school board meetings, work sessions, events at schools and other public events. Researching, voting on and adopting education policies, programs, rules and regulations which govern Board procedures and the administration of the school division. Examining and approving the school division budget, awarding contracts, setting salary schedules and wages.
PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?
Reinboldt: I bring experience to this position. I know what the problems are and I have clear ideas of what to do to fix them. I’ve brought many successful programs and policies to the schools that I am proud of, including security entrances to all the schools, before and after school child care, activity buses for high school students, bringing the IB program to Brooke Point High School, an Activities Code of Conduct for high school students, ParentVue and StudentVue, and increased parental participation on advisory committees including the Calendar Committee, the textbook advisory committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee.
PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of the School Board? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?
A gun was found in the backpack of a 17-year-old Colonial Forge High School student.
From Stafford sheriff’s spokeswoman MC Moncure:
Suspicious activities surrounding a juvenile caused a 17-year-old Colonial Forge High School student to be searched today. The search revealed a .40 caliber handgun which was concealed in the student’s backpack. The juvenile was charged with Possession of a Concealed Weapon and Possession of a Firearm on School Property. The investigation as to how the student came to possess the firearm is ongoing.
The juvenile is currently being held at the Rappahannock Juvenile Center.
The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office just released the names of two men charged in the overnight shots fired call turned police standoff in North Stafford:
Kevin Wayne Smith, Jr., age 23 of Salem Way Drive in Woodbridge was charged with Attempted 2nd Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony.
Brandon Christopher Baker, age 24 of Westminster Lane in Stafford was charged with Assault by Mob.
Authorities are withholding photos of the suspects as they are expected to appear in a witness line-up in the coming days, Moncure said.
A fight in the parking of the Buffalo Mos restaurant in North Stafford led to shots fired, and then to a nearly four-hour standoff outside the home a suspect.
More from Stafford sheriff’s spokeswoman MC Moncure:
On October 14, 2016 at approximately 2:00 a.m. Stafford Sheriff’s Office responded to a fight in progress at Buffalo Mo’s in northern Stafford County. The caller reported four or five males were outside fighting with a single male.
During the fight, one of the males from the group brandished a semi-automatic handgun and fired several rounds. After the gunfire, the group of men fled the scene in a vehicle. When Patrol Units arrived they were able to confirm that no one was injured in the shooting. Witnessed were able to provide the names of two of the suspects in the group, a vehicle description and tag number. Deputies began to search for the vehicle which was found unoccupied at the Staffordboro Commuter Lot.
DMV records showed that the vehicle was registered to a residence at 105 Westminster Lane. Patrol units conducted surveillance at the residence and were able to confirm that the two, previously identified suspects were inside.
The Special Weapons and Tactics Team responded to the scene at approximately 7:30 a.m. and established a perimeter around the residence. Negotiators attempted to make contact with the suspects for several hours by home phone, cell phone and a public address system.
Both suspects finally emerged from the townhome and surrendered to authorities at approximately 11:50 a.m. without further incident. At the present time, the names of the suspects are being withheld as the investigation continues.
Arrest warrants were obtained for one of the suspects for Attempted Murder and Reckless Handling of a Firearm. The second suspect has a warrant for Assault by Mob. The Sheriff’s Office would like to advise that all suspects are now in custody and there is no danger to the public involving this incident.
Moncure did not release the names of the suspects.
The victim was not taken to a hospital.
Rescue crews were dispatched to a county government office on Courthouse Road at 11:30 a.m. The dispatcher on the call noted the incident as “electrocution.”
The victim was conscious at the time the call was dispatched.
We don’t know the severity of the injuries of the victim. We’ll post more information when we get it.
A Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said he could not provide any new information about this incident.
A man was injured about 1 p.m. when what was said to be a wall fell inside of a Home Depot store.
Rescue crews were called to the home improvement store about 1 p.m. on Worth Avenue in North Stafford.
We’re working to get more information on the incident from a fire and rescue department spokesman. We’ll post it here when we get it.
Stafford authorities are investigating two separate shooting into occupied dwellings calls.
One of the calls involves a gun and the other a bow and arrow.
From Stafford sheriff’s spokeswoman MC Moncure:
On October 10, 2016 two separate incidents occurred involving weapons fired into dwellings. At approximately 3 p.m. dispatch received a call reporting that a round from a weapon had just been fired into a home on Sequester Drive.
The round had passed through a double-pane window in the family room and lodged in the drywall. When Deputy K.A. Lawrence arrived at the residence she was advised that the homeowner heard shooting for approximately thirty minutes before the incident.
The homeowner added that hearing gunfire, in this more rural part of the county, is not unusual. After interviewing the resident, Deputy Lawrence began to examine the physical evidence and recovered the bullet from the wall. With the assistance of other patrol units, the neighborhood was canvassed to determine what others may have heard or observed.
The next call came in from the Widewater area
Later that day at approximately 6 p.m. a homeowner from the Widewater area of the county called dispatch to report an arrow had been shot into her home and was lodged in the wall of a spare bedroom.
Deputy J.J. Brunofski responded to the residence on Viking Lane. The homeowner reported that the previous night a loud thud was heard between the hours of 6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The noise was disregarded but the next day an arrow was discovered to be lodged in the wall of the home beside the porch. The homeowner subsequently called the Sheriff’s Office.
The arrow has a green and white fin and was shot from an Easton Magnum Crossbow. Deputy Brunofski also canvassed the neighbors to learn what they may have witnessed.
At this time the Sheriff’s Office is still pursing leads. Anyone with information on either case is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office 540-658-4400.
Moncure told Potomac Local the investigating deputy was familiar with the type of arrow used and was able to match it to the crossbow suspected to have been used in the incident on Viking Lane.
From Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department:
On Monday October 10, 2016 at 17:59:01 hours, Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department responded to a residential fire at 1496 Truslow Road. At 18:05:43 the first arriving unit from the Berea Station reported fire showing from the second floor of a single family home.
Firefighters confirmed all occupants had made it safely out of the home and mounted an aggressive interior attack and the fire under control within five minutes.
The home was occupied by one adult, five children and the family pet. The occupants were home when the fire broke out and safely exited prior to our arrival.
The home is valued at $428,956.00 with an estimated property loss of $150,000.00. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Red Cross is providing assistance for the family.
There were no injuries to civilians or fire rescue personnel.
From Manassas police:
Suspicious Clown Threats
Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5, 2016, Manassas City Police received multiple reports from citizens of unknown subjects dressed as clowns acting suspiciously both online and near area schools. The reports have been broad and very similar in nature to those made throughout the Northern Virginia region and areas along the east coast. Manassas City Police has not discovered any evidence to suggest a plausible threat to the public, and officers will continue to respond to all reports and follow all credible leads that indicate illegal activity or a potential danger to citizens.
Manassas City Police would like to thank the community for its diligent engagement with our agency. We encourage all citizens to continue reporting any type of suspicious activity to MCPD by calling 703-257-8000 or in an emergency, 9-1-1. For more information on suspicious activity and Neighborhood Watch, visit MCPD’s Safety Tips page online.
From Stafford County Public Schools on Tuesday, Oct. 4:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you might have seen on television and social media, there is a growing concern surrounding clowns and threats to schools. Stafford County Public Schools and Stafford County Sheriff’s Office are aware of the threats involving clowns on social media. These social media postings concerning our school division are not credible. While there have been reports, law enforcement determined there have been no legitimate sightings of clowns. However, in an abundance of caution, law enforcement has enhanced security procedures throughout the school division and patrols are on high alert. Please be assured that safety and security is a top priority for SCPS.