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6 tips for good health from Mary Washington Healthcare

Dr. Vranian’s Quick Tips for Good Health

1. Minimize meat consumption

2. Avoid “white” foods — Foods that have had the shell of the grain removed

3. Eat plenty of colored vegetables

4. Stay away from saturated fats, like heavy dressings and sweets

5. Exercise 30 minutes/day at least 3 – 5 days per week

6. Find some thing or somebody to love

– by Dr. Robert Vranian, Cardiologist, Mary Washington Healthcare

KO Distilleries opening in the City of Manassas

KO Distilleries

On Jan. 29, KO Distilleries, a new business in the City of Manassas, opened their doors for a “keel laying.” This is a nautical term for the start of a ship’s construction and is appropriate for this business as both owners are graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II as well as other City Council members, business owners and residents were onsite to welcome this new industry to the City of Manassas. KO Distilleries, located at 10381 Central Park Drive, will manufacture, store and sell distilled spirits, including bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, gin, vodka and rum. The distillery will have a visitors center for tours, tastings, merchandise sales and special events.

Owners Bill Karlson and John O’Mara will open their doors in the spring of 2015. This is only the 19th distillery in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is on the forefront of an emerging industry trend. Historic Manassas, Inc. helped the City and KO Distilleries with the event and many members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new owners as members of the Chamber.


The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

Stafford rescue crews called to head-on crash on Route 1

A driver and three children were taken to a hospital after being in a car crash in Stafford County.

The crash, reported as a head-on collision about 1 p.m. on Sunday, occurred in the 3600 block of Jefferson Davis Highway just south of the Quantico Corporate Center at Boswell’s Corner.

The second vehicle had two occupants inside but both refused treatment at a local hospital, said Stafford fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle.

The conditions of the those taken to the hospital were not released. 

Help CASA save children at Capitol Steps comedy show

All proceeds raised for show help CASA, other area organizations 

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

The Capitol Steps are coming to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Feb. 21. Its’ a show organized by the Bull Run Rotary Club in Manassas, and a sell-out show will raise funds for organizations helping our neighbors in need. 

Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, is one of those organizations helping children in Prince William.

CASA Children’s Intervention Services has been appointed to and worked with over 3,000 abused, neglected and abandoned children in Greater Prince William since 1994.

More than 150 specially trained advocates gave over 20,000 hours to help insure that nearly 500 abused children, before the court, are kept safe, are provided needed services to overcome the impact of their maltreatment and have all they need to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong. CASA investigates, monitors, reports and is a special friend to child victims who have been beaten, starved, burnt, raped, trafficked, born drug exposed, imprisoned in their homes and more. CASA advocates providing hope, help and advocacy for these hurting children. According to a report by the Attorney General, children with a CASA spend less time in foster care, receive more services, are less likely ever to be reabused and are more likely to be adopted if they cannot return home.

CHILDREN STARVED, ABANDONED Cassie lived in fear that she would starve, she was 4. One day Cassie did not get dressed quickly enough. Cassie’s mom told her she could not have any food that day as punishment.

Mom made her sit and watch as she prepared and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner for herself. The longest she remembered not eating was 3 days. It was reported, the court appointed a CASA for Cassie. Mom told the court she did not want Cassie anyway.

The CASA advocated for help for Cassie. She lived in fear of not surviving and not being loved. The CASA visited this child, every week for over 2 years, met regularly with her service providers and foster parents, advocated at all the hearings, and worked to help insure a successful adoption where she was asked by the adoptive parents with whom she had worked so closely to be Cassie’s Godmother.

CHILDREN RAPED A mother had some evidence that her three year old child had been sexually molested by her new husband. The advocate began an investigation for more information which took her by phone to six states and uncovered eight previous girlfriends or wives, whose children had allegedly been sexually assaulted by this same man. Some were never proven in court, for lack of sufficient evidence, and therefore not on record.

Finally, in one state, her investigation found a mother who had discovered this man in bed with her 12 year old daughter and had successfully prosecuted him. She found reports of this man’s regular presence outside a local school and his picking up a young girl to take her home.

This information, not previously known to the court, helped to keep the child in Prince William from further harm as the man fled the state and was later asked for by a neighboring state as they sought to prosecute him for offenses in their state.

CHILDREN BORN SUBSTANCE EXPOSED Two children were removed from their parents. The parents were drug abusers whose last child was born substance exposed and who were reported several times for being under the influence for days at a time leaving their 3 year old to fend for himself. The parents took the children from their placement and disappeared.

Weeks passed and they were not found but there was serious concern for their safety. The advocate journeyed from door to door following lead after lead to help find the children. After three weeks of diligent searching, he found them hiding with the children in a shack in the middle of debris with no electricity, running water or heat for the cold winter weather. The advocate alerted police and the children were safely retrieved.

CHILDREN BEATEN When a Prince William child, severely physically and mentally disabled from severe physical abuse, was moved to a facility in another state, the presiding Judge was very concerned that he could not be certain how the child was doing when he was so far away from the court that sought to protect him. The advocates, a husband and wife team, at their own expense, traveled each month to the institution to visit him.

Well after the court was involved, the couple continued to be the only “family” the young man had still visiting on his birthday, Christmas and several other times each year.

The goal

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of. They cannot do it alone!

Order tickets online or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event please contact Steve Chapman, by Feb. 10.

Fire crews called to house on Aquia Drive


A fire broke out Friday night around 8 p.m., at a house in the 1200 block of Aquia Drive in the Aquia Harbour subdivision in North Stafford.

According to Assistant Chief Mark Doyle of the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department, the fire was confined to the garage, and the family living there was not displaced.

Crews appeared to have doused any fire that had been in the home. They used large fans to clear smoke from the house.

No word yet on what caused the fire. 

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

freedom, fitness, aquatic, manassas
Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 


What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 How much does the program cost?
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
Is it too late to sign up? 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
Why do people sign up?
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 


Updated: Stafford authorities continue search for missing teen


The teenager who went missing last night in Stafford County is identified as James “Daniel” Martson. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Stafford deputies responded to the area of Belle Plains Road at approximately 5:17 pm last night, January 28, 2014 for a report of a 17 year old male who had left his residence and is considered missing and endangered.  The 17 year old, white male is identified as James “Daniel” Marston who was last seen near Vance Way, located in Potomac Creek Estates in the 700 block of Belle Plains Road, which is the White Oak area of southern Stafford County.  James “Daniel” Marston is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 155 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.  He is wearing dark blue jeans, a black hoodie and a plaid jacket.

Numerous units of the Sheriff’s Office, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and Sheriff’s Office K-9 along with a Maryland State Police helicopter searched for James Marston last night.  The search is continuing today.

If anyone has any information as to the location of James “Daniel” Marston they are asked to contact the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-658-4400.

Original post

A 17-year-old boy is missing tonight in Stafford County.

Authorities released little information on the missing endangered teenager. They said the boy went missing from the area of Belle Plains Road and The Vane Way south Stafford.

A sheriff’s spokesman did not release the name of the boy, age, or could tell us the circumstances of the teenager’s disappearance. (more…)

Duct tape the principal, raise cash for new school computers

Duct Tape the Principal and Assistant Principal Fundraiser

The Moncure Elementary PTO is very excited to announce their newest fundraising event – Duct Tape the Principal and Assistant Principal to the Wall. On February 25th, Moncure Elementary staff, students and parents will have the opportunity to duct tape Moncure’s amazing Principal and Assistant Principal, Mr. Machi and Mrs. Norton, to a wall of the school.

The PTO will be selling duct tape in one yard strips for $1 each. Staff, students and parents will have the opportunity to place the duct tape strip on the Principal or Assistant Principal. We hope that enough duct tape strips will be placed on the Principal and Assistant Principal so that they will be suspended above the ground on a wall of the school.

The PTO’s goal is to raise enough money to purchase a Chromebook for each classroom. The class with the highest participation wins a doughnut breakfast.

In this difficult economy, it’s important for parent organizations to look for creative ways to raise money. This fundraiser is exciting, because it’s a unique idea that helps the school raise funds, without parents having to peddle food or merchandise. 

Moncure Elementary is located at 75 Moncure Lane in  Stafford. For more information, call 540-658-6300.

Come see the Capitol Steps at Hylton Arts Center & help Cecily replace the asbestos-laden siding on her home

When Cecily was in her 20’s she immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua.

capitol stepsTaking a job at Home Depot in Springfield, Cecily met her future husband, Eddy, who had emigrated from Palau. Cecily and Eddy married in 2008 and now share their Woodbridge home with their two children, Cecily’s mother, and grandmother.

A tight-knit family, everyone pitches in to help. Cecily operates a daycare from her home while also attending school at Northern Virginia Community College.

Cecily’s mom is a certified nursing assistant with a job in Washington, D.C. Eddy continues to work at Home Depot and he and Cecily’s mom and grandmother all help care for the children, too.

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is looking forward to giving this hard working family a hand up with much-needed critical home repairs that will make their home safer, more comfortable and affordable.

Habitat for Humanity will replace the boiler that is original to the home, replace asbestos siding from three sides of the exterior and replace non-functional windows throughout the home. The deck must be rebuilt for safety. And the home will be weatherized for energy efficiency.

Habitat for Humanity thanks you for your support of the Capitol Steps event and welcomes you to join them on their work sites as a volunteer!

To learn more, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website at

Mark your calendars for Laughs & Love benefit February 21 at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Not only are we having the hilarious Capitol Steps come to the beautiful Hylton Center, but our Rotary Club has proudly partnered with Casa, Habitat for Humanity, Rainbow Center Therapeutic Riding, Calling All Souls and Transitional Housing Barn as the beneficiaries this year.

The goal?

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of.

They cannot do it alone!

To order tickets go to or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event, please contact Steve Chapman, by Feb 10.

The preceding post was sponsored by Rotary Club of Bull Run.

Stafford deputies search for suspicious person, schools placed on lockdown

North Stafford High School sits on Garrisonville Road in North Stafford (Photo: Mary Davidson/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire crews called to gas leak on Eustace Road


11:18 a.m. 

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

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

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

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

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

10:39 a.m. 

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

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

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

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

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

Vote, MLK day, election

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

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

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

Stafford leaders order no tax increase despite lower revenues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Historic Manassas, Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia
  • Phone: 703-361-6599
  • Website:
manassas, souper bowl, festival

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

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

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

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

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Cyber academy gives wounded warriors hope, careers

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

Military patients work in groups over 18 months learning IT skills  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After McDonalds robbery, young mom shown path to a degree

degree, credit, mcdonalds

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

ANU provides young mother flexibility, path to medical assisting degree     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

credit, mcdonalds, degree

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

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

Stafford Courthouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stafford fire and rescue crews rescue horse on frozen pond


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

Here’s more in a press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gas prices fall below $2 per gallon in Stafford

stafford gas 199

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

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

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

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

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

011315 fuel forecast

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

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

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

Wendy Maurer running for Rock Hill Supervisor in Stafford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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