Nonstop Local News for North Stafford, Va.




Loud Noises Can Scare Dogs; Pay Attention to Your Pet on 4th of July

STAFFORD, Va. — With all of the fun to be had on Independence Day, dogs and pets with anxiety often get overlooked.

The sound of exploding fireworks can make some animals nervous, and that may cause some – especially dogs – to run away from home to escape the noise. That’s why stray dogs are a common problem this time of year.

If you know your animal has anxiety issues, you need to prepare for that,” said Capt. Mike Null, with Stafford County Animal Control. “You usually know if they do by gauging how they react to thunderstorms.”

There are ways to make a nervous Fido more comfortable during July 4th fireworks. Pet owners can allow their animals to hide under a bed or someplace in the home where the animal feels safe. Null also says to make sure the animal has plenty of water to help ease the anxiety.

There are also several homeopathic anxiety remedies like calming chews and solutions that are marketed as an all-natural treatment for animal anxiety.

If your dog or animal does run away, the best place to call is the closest animal shelter. In Stafford, the county animal shelter on Eskimo Hill Road is closed on Independence Day but reopens on July 5. There are also instances where neighbors will find stray dogs, take them in an notify animal control, and keep them until animal control finds the owner.

The owners of animals with nametags or those with an implanted microchip are contacted immediately by shelter staff, said Null.

State law mandates municipal shelters must keep dogs that show some sign of having an owner, like a collar around its neck, for at least 11 days before it can be put up for adoption. Null said no dog has been euthanized at the Stafford shelter between January and May 2014.

Elderly Stafford Woman Scammed

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — A woman was scammed out of cash by two men posing as electric company employees.

Here’s more a in a press release:

On Monday, June 23, 2014, at approximately 3:30 pm, multiple deputies responded to an address in North Stafford for a report of a scam. When deputies arrived on scene they encountered an elderly woman who told deputies that two men, posing as workers from the power company, told the victim that they needed to check her lights and also mentioned something about having to lay power lines. 

The male suspects walked the victim around the residence having her turn the lights off and on in different rooms. One of the suspects had the victim go to the basement to check those lights as the other suspect stayed upstairs. The male suspect in the basement left the female victim and when she returned upstairs both men were gone.

The female, becoming suspicious of the entire incident, checked to make sure nothing was missing from the house. It was at that time that she realized that the two male suspects had stolen an undetermined amount of cash from the residence. The suspects have been described as two males, possibly Hispanic, ages 25 – 30, both wearing khaki pants. Deputies checked the entire area but were unable to locate any suspects.

If anyone has any information as to the identity of these suspects they are asked to contact the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-658-4400, Stafford Crime Solvers at 540-659-2020  (callers may remain anonymous) or TEXT at “STAFFORD” + your tip to CRIMES (274637).

Investigators did not say how much money was taken from the victim.

‘The House,’ Community Colleges, Youth for Tomorrow Awarded Grants from Potomac Health Foundation

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Potomac Health Foundation announced $2.7 million in funding for area organizations that provide access to better healthcare.

The grants were awarded to 26 organizations in what was dubbed a competitive application process that spanned December 2013 through June of this year.

Here’s more in a press release:

Earlier this year Potomac Health Foundation dedicated its annual large grant program to Mr. Howard L. Greenhouse. Mr. Greenhouse, who is a resident of Woodbridge, was a founding trustee of Potomac Hospital in 1972. He served continuously on the Potomac Hospital Board for more than 25 years, becoming Chairman Emeritus of Potomac Hospital Foundation in 1998. He is a founding and current Board member of Potomac Health Foundation.

The newly announced grants will be distributed to 26 health related programs serving residents of north Stafford, eastern Prince William County and Lorton communities. This year an emphasis was placed on programs designed to prevent illness and chronic disease in the areas [of] oral health, diabetes and obesity, congestive heart failure, and mental health.

Dr. Carol Shapiro, who chairs the Foundation’s volunteer Grants Committee, said “the Board is excited about the originality of the 8 new programs we are funding, and very pleased with quality of the 18 programs we are funding again this year.  Together these health programs will touch thousands of lives.”

Since 2011 Potomac Health Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to 62 different programs to promote access to health care, disease prevention and innovation.

Potomac Health Foundation is an independent, 501 (c)(3) private health foundation, whose mission is to improve the health of the community. It serves the communities of eastern Prince William County, north Stafford and Lorton.

The Potomac Health Foundation was founded shortly before Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge changed its name to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

Here’s a list of the grant winners:

Organization Program Grant Award

1 American Heart Association, CPR Anytime: $50,400.00
2 ASPIRA Association, Inc., Promoting Health and wellness by Empowering Latino Youth and Community: $90,341.50
3 Change in Action, Inc., Behavioral Management for Healthy Relationships: $181,813.00
4 Greater Prince William Community Health Center, Expanding Access to Dental Services in Prince William County: $70,510.00
5 Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, MCCP Foundation Project Pearly Whites – Lorton: $42,007.00
6 Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation: $47,158.00
7 Northern Virginia Family Service, Prince William HealthLink: $69,827.00
8 Nueva Vida, Inc., Reducing fragmentation and improving continuity of care across the breast cancer continuum: $91,076.00
9 Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Transportation Voucher Program, to facilitate access to health care needs: $401,701.00
10 Prince William County Dept of Social Services, Case Coordinator for Health and Supporting Services: Access for the most vulnerable homeless adults: $29,990.00
11 Prince William County Public Schools, Coordinated Mental Health Support for At-Risk Youth: $86,236.00
12 Prince William County Public Schools, Human Trafficking Prevention, Identification, and Referral: $78,713.00
13 Prince William County Public Schools,Prince William County School of Practical Nursing: $31,500.00
14 Prince William Health District BEAT Cancer Breast Education, Awareness & Treatment: $60,779.00
15 Prince William Soccer, Inc. The Courage F.U.N. Project: $25,777.00
16 Project Mend-A-House, Inc., Preventing Falls for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities: $85,000.00
17 Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging The RAAA, Aquia Garrisonville Heathcare Project: $30,000.00
18 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center CHF, Care Transitions: $125,000.00
19 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Family Health Connection Outreach Worker: $25,367.00
20 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Hispanic Diabetes Outreach Program: $60,646.00
21 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Sentara, Potomac Women’s Health Mammovan: $360,461.00
22 StreetLight Community Outreach Ministries, Permanent Supported Housing & Respite Care for Medically Fragile Homeless Adults: $49,990.00
23 The Arc of Greater Prince William/INSIGHT, Inc., Medical Case Management: $68,000.00
24 The House, Inc. Student Leadership Center The House, Inc.’s EmpowerMEnt Center: $159,000.00
25 Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, Potomac Health Foundation Fellows Program: $125,000.00
26 Youth For Tomorrow, YFT Diagnostic and Assessment Center: $213,123.50
Total: $2,659,416.00

Stafford Honors Fallen Marine Hero and ‘Wonderful Son’


STAFFORD, Va. — Kristine Stewart and her two children watched as six Marines pulled her husband’s flag-draped casket from a hearse.

Flanked by family, law enforcement and motorcycle riders who all escorted the body of her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. David Stewart, 34, killed June 20 in Afghanistan, she followed behind the funeral detail as they carried the casket into a funeral home.

Before walking across the threshold, Kristine Stewart held up a tiny U.S. flag and waived it for all to see, a show of defiant patriotism in the face of tragic loss.

Staff Sgt. David Stewart and two other Marines died in combat operations. On Friday, members of the Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club and local law enforcement officials traveled the nearly 400-mile round trip distance to retrieve Stewart’s body from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and bring him to his home county of Stafford.

The procession arrived by U.S. 1 in Stafford at 4:25 p.m., and was greeted by hundreds of onlookers wearing red, white and blue, as well as two ladder fire trucks that created an arch with a U.S. flag draped in the center.

“I can‘t tell you how thankful I am for the honor that was extended to David for the escort mission that you guys did,” said David’s father Nelson Stewart to those who escorted his son back home. “When you’ve lost a child there’s, of course, tremendous devastation and sadness but part of that comes from the fact that you don’t know if he’s going to be remembered. You don’t know who is going to remember him. Family is going to remember him and immediate friends are going to remember him, but who else is going to remember him? Who else even knows? But you guys, and the people along this route that, unfortunately, I cannot even possibly thank, have alleviated that part for our family by honoring David the way that you have.”

Nelson, who is also a U.S. Marine, said David is a “wonderful son.”

Stewart’s body was received at the Covenant Funeral Home on Va. 630 (Courthouse Road). The procession that brought it there traveled across the Bay Bridge in Maryland, down U.S. 301 across the Potomac River into Virginia, through Fredericksburg, and then to U.S. 1 for the final leg of the journey into Stafford County.

Stewart was deployed to his second tour in Afghanistan in April. He and the two other Marines killed — Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant, 19, of Peterborough, N.H., and Lance Cpl. Adam R. Wolff, 25, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa — were assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion (Forward) in the 2nd Marine Division.

Stewart is a graduate of North Stafford High School and had completed three tours in Iraq after joining the Marine Corps in 2004. A funeral service will be held for him at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1 at the chapel at Quantico Marine Corps Base with a burial at 2:30 p.m. at Quantico National Cemetery.

Welcoming David home

The iconic courthouse in Stafford served as a backdrop as the community gathered to receive the body of one of their own.

A large crowd of mourners and well-wishers gathered with U.S. Flags, donned in patriotic red, white and blue colors, to send the message that the community stands behind the wife and two children he left behind.

“My son was on the same mission as Staff Sgt. Stewart, so this hits very close to home for me,” said Nancy Kearney, of Stafford, who serves as the Fredericksburg Chapter of Blue Star Mothers, a support group of women whose sons and daughters are serving the in the U.S. military.

Kearney has two sons serving the in the Marine Corps. Her son in Afghanistan had his tour of duty extended, and Kearney doesn’t know when he’ll be coming home. She’s found personal strength in the friendships she’s made in the Blue Star group.

“…Morale is kind of low for [the troops] right now and we need to remind to them that we are there for them,” she added.

Among those who were paying respects to the fallen staff sergeant were some who cheered as the motorcycle procession arrived. Many here were not only mourning the loss of a community member, but also celebrating a man who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“We’re here to remember who our true heroes are, and never forget that,” said Susan Thorisson, who stood at the corner of U.S. 1 and Courthouse Road holding a sign and waiving to motorists.

Rallying the riders

A call for bikers to participate in the escort was made by the Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club, a group of current and past law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel that organized the funeral procession. The call was first published on, and it helped to rally hundreds of bikers, as well as law enforcement and fire and rescue crews to participate in the procession.

Many of the bikers who stood outside the funeral home at the end of the procession said it was “a long day,” but the trip was worth it. Because there was no opportunity for bikers to stop and refuel due to safety and traffic concerns, some riders were coasting into town on fumes when they arrived.

U.S. Army reservist Aaron Crispin of Dumfries said he wanted to participate in the ride to show his support for a fallen serviceman. Crispin has served one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and added that the military’s mission will continue despite the sad loss.

“The troops are going to go out and do what they’ve got to do regardless of how good or bad things back home are. It’s tough, but it’s the job,” said Crispin.

Mallory, Quinn Appointed New Roles at Stafford Schools


STAFFORD, Va. — At their meeting on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, the Stafford County School Board approved the appointment of Cessy Mallory as the assistant principal in charge of athletics and activities at Stafford High School.  She began her career as a professional educator in 2002 teaching special education classes in Prince William County.

She is currently a health and physical education teacher and department chair at Mountain View High School.  Ms. Mallory has been with Stafford County Schools for nine years and in addition to her current duties as department chair, she has served as a principal intern and managed responsibilities for attendance, in school suspension, expanded recognition opportunities for students and has served as an interim activities director.

Ms. Mallory holds a bachelor’s of science degree in sociology and pre-law from Longwood University.  She also earned a master’s of science degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University and a master’s of education in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Also during this meeting, the School Board approved the appointment of Dr. Christopher Quinn to the position of Director of Instructional Services.  Dr. Quinn has been a part of the Stafford Schools community since 2005 and will maintain his role as a major contributor to the school division’s instructional leadership.

“We appreciate Dr. Quinn’s great knowledge of learning strategies and will rely on his considerable talents and experience as we continue to move the school division forward to even greater success in the area of instructional services,” stated Superintendent Bruce Benson.

Dr. Quinn earned his bachelor of arts degree in history and master’s degree in secondary education from Augusta State University in Georgia.  He is a proud graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo where he earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership.


Stafford Hospital Recognized for Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery

STAFFORD, Va. — Stafford Hospital has been recognized for their advances in minimally invasive surgery.

Here’s more in a press release:

Stafford Hospital was recently designated as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG).  This means that Stafford Hospital’s GYN Surgery program, under the medical directorship of Dr. Kurian Thott, has demonstrated excellence in minimally invasive GYN surgery.  The COEMIG program ensures that the safest, highest quality of care is delivered to minimally invasive gynecology surgery patients worldwide.  Stafford Hospital is one of only 5 Virginia hospitals that have been designated a COEMIG facility by the AAGL Surgical Review Board.

Dr. Kurian Thott, a local OB/GYN with advanced training and expertise in minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, led Stafford Hospital through the designation process.  COEMIG’s objective requirements and evaluation processes were developed in conjunction with leading minimally invasive GYN surgeons.  A commitment to patient care and success demands that the requirements be comprehensive, research-based and verified through a rigorous site inspection.

“Earning the center of excellence designation signified our ability to consistently deliver the safest, highest quality care to minimally invasive gynecologic surgery patients,” said Cathy Yablonski, Stafford Hospital Administrator.  “With Dr. Thott, Stafford Hospital is performing hundreds of minimally invasive GYN surgeries each year, with outstanding results.  Participation in this designation has further focused our team on exceeding clinical benchmarks and guidelines.”

The COEMIG program recognizes that the integrated efforts and resources of both the surgeon and the hospital are what provide lasting health benefits for patients.  Dr. Thott and Stafford Hospital meet these requirements and are committed to delivering safe, effective, evidence-based care for women requiring minimally invasive GYN surgery.

Updated: Motorcycle Club Calls for Riders to Help Escort Fallen Marine Back Home to Stafford County

UPDATED 7 a.m. June 26– Motorcyclists will rally in Dale City before heading to Dover, Del. to escort the body of Staff Sgt. David Stewart back to his home county of Stafford.

Here’s the latest from the Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club:

Here’s the latest info on the escort. We will be rallying up at the I-95 Rest Area, mile marker 155 Northbound (Prince William County, VA) @0700 Friday 6/27 and heading to Dover, DE.

We will stage outside of the base (exact location TBD) and the escort of Staff Sergeant Stewart will begin at approximately 12:00 PM heading back south. We will publish the staging area outside of Dover AFB as soon as we have it for those who want to meet there. This will be a law enforcement escorted ride and therefore you must be at the beginning point in Dover and stay with the ride until its conclusion in Stafford.

Due to safety concerns for all riders and especially the LEO’s conducting the escort, dropping off or jumping in along the route will not be allowed due to the additional risk associated.

This escort is for motorcycles only, no cages please. This is the best info we have at this point so please understand, this is subject to change. We will post any changes/updates as we receive them.

All are welcome as long as you can make the entire ride. You should have at least a 160 mile fuel range to be safe.

UPDATE 9 p.m. — Bryant Halstead with Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club sent us this update via email urging riders who want to participate in escorting Staff Sgt. David Stewart’s body back to Stafford.

Here’s a portion of the email message:

We are working with law enforcement representatives along the route to coordinate safe passage for all. Stafford Sheriff’s Office Motor Unit is the lead entity on this and will be making the trip to Dover, DE to lead this escort back to Stafford.

It has been stipulated that anyone wishing to participate in this escort must commit to make the entire ride from Dover, DE to the end point in Stafford, Va.

Also, this is approximately a 160-mile trip and there may or may not be a stop so please make sure you have a bike that has that fuel range.

7:30 a.m. 

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Marine Staff Sgt. David Stewart was killed in Afghanistan on Friday.

His body will be shipped to Delaware where his family is waiting to receive it.

Now, the Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club – a group made up of police, fire, EMS workers, and current and past military members – wants to escort Stewart’s body back to his home County of Stafford.

“So, what we’re trying to do is to coordinate with many other public safety-oriented motorcycle clubs as we can, and really anyone who wants to participate” said Bryant Halstead, with Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club.

It’s not yet known when Stewart’s body will be returned to Delaware and will then be ready to be retuned home to Stafford County. It could be as much as four to seven days, according to Halstead.

Stewart is one of Stafford’s own, and this is a fitting tribute for a husband and father of two.

“These are the types of causes that we support in respects for the folks who have made the ultimate sacrifice and also helping those who are injured in the line of duty, and helping family members of those who are killed in action,” Halstead said.

If you want to ride and help escort Stewart back home, you can go to the motorcycle club’s Facebook page to send a message to let the group know you’re available.

Two other U.S. Marines were killed in the hostile fire incident: Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant, 19, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, and Lance Cpl. Adam R. Wolff, 25, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

4 Teens Busted in Ceramic Bunny Heist

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Four teenagers sitting in slow traffic on U.S. 1 thought it might be a good idea to stop off at a plant nursery.

But while they were there Stafford County law enforcement authorities said the four teenagers from neighboring Prince William County decided to steal a lawn ornament – a ceramic rabbit.

Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy said the owner of the Sunnyside Nursery received a cell phone call from a witness to the theft that occurred about 2:30 p.m. Friday. The owner then called 911 and had enough information to provide the sheriff’s office with a license plate number of a car that was suspected in the fake rabbit heist.

Stafford deputies located the car shortly thereafter on U.S. 1 and pursued it for a three-quarters of a mile. A separate incident – a car crash at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Va. 610 – was enough to slow down the rabbit boys, and that’s when police caught up with them and arrested them.

Investigators learned the ceramic rabbit had been chucked into ditch about 300 yards away from the nursery where it was taken from.

The 16-year-old driver faces charges misdemeanor eluding, driving without a license, and conspiracy to commit petit larceny. The three others inside the car also face charges of conspiracy to commit petit larceny, said Kennedy.

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

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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

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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.

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