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North Stafford Cancels Band Concert

North Stafford High School sits on Garrisonville Road in North Stafford (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

NORTH STAFOFRD, Va. – A concert by the North Stafford High School Band has been canceled.

School officials said a personnel issue forced the cancelation of the concert.

The school’s Wind Ensemble was scheduled to perform at 5:30 p.m. and Symphonic Band was scheduled to perform at 6:15 p.m.

No reschedule time has been announced.


Lockhart Named Permanent Stafford Fire Chief


STAFFORD, Va. – Stafford County has a new fire chief.

Mark Lockhart has been selected to serve as the county top fire services officials – a position he’s been serving in since Chief Ron Brown moved to Fresno, Calif., to become that city’s fire chief.

The Stafford department announced the selection of Lockhart has their permanent chief on Twitter this morning. Lockhart joined the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department in 2010 and has more than 30 years of service in the fire and rescue industry, according to the county’s website:

Mark Lockhart has 30 years of fire and rescue experience including working for an ambulance district, an air medical program, a level I trauma center, and the fire service. Prior to joining the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department in July 2010, Mark served for 23 years with the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District in St. Louis, MO including 12 years as the Chief Medical Officer, two separate stints as the Interim Chief and then three years as Chief of the District.

As an Assistant Chief for Stafford County, Mark worked to improve the department’s standard operating policies and procedures, streamline administrative processes, and to collaboratively enhance the existing EMS, Training, and Logistics programs within the department. He was appointed Acting County Fire Chief in May 2012.

Officials said the county performed a nation-wide search for a permanent replacement but in the end chose Lockhart.

Stafford County officials also made an announcement about the permanent hire of the new chief on their website


Armageddon Fears, Flu Concerns Prompt Calls from Parents

Mountain View High School in Stafford.

4 p.m. Wednesday

False rumors continue to affect school operations in Stafford County.

Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges issued a statement noting there will be an increased law enforcement presence at schools on Friday because of Armageddon rumors.

Bridges said the rumors are unfounded and have caused stress for many students and parents. On Tuesday, the school system issued a statement calling rumors of classes being canceled on Friday false.

More from Bridges’ statement:

I ask that each of you help stop the rumors spreading throughout our community by refusing to share these rumors with others. Please do not communicate any unsubstantiated rumor. However, should you become aware of an actual threat, please contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 540-658-4400.

Bridges also stated the county sheriff’s department and school security team fully investigate any potential threat to the school division.

9 p.m. Tuesday

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – The end of the world is no reason to miss school in Stafford County.

The county’s public schools Tuesday said schools are receiving calls from parents attempting to confirm rumors that classes has been canceled on Friday due to the predicted end of the world. Stafford County schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim said just because the ancient Mayans predicted the world will end on Friday, it’s business as usual for schools.

“The predicted end of the world is stressing out lots of kids, especially those in middle school and in high school,” said Cottongim.

The good news, according to NASA, is that life on earth will go on without a hitch.

In addition to rumored Armageddon, more substantial worries about flu outbreaks in county schools have also prompted questions from parents who have asked if schools will be closed because of cases of flu. Cottongim said these, again, are just rumors and that no schools will close early.

However, cases of flu have been rampant at the county’s head start program and at Margaret Brent Elementary School on Mountain View Road. Information about the outbreaks has been sent home to parents, and it included topics on how to prevent the flu.

Overall, Cottongim said it’s difficult to track absentees during this time of the school year because some children are out of classes because of sickness and others may have taken an early start to their winter break.

The last day of classes before winter break for Stafford County Public Schools is Friday. The vacation begins on Monday and lasts through Tuesday, January 1.


Sheriff Increasing Patrols at Schools Monday

6:40 a.m. Monday

Prince William police also announced they will increase the number of officers inside public schools today. Here’s more in a statement from the department: 

ADVISORY: An increased presence of Police will be in and around the county schools this week. Please do not be alarmed. The pain of last Friday’s events has reached across our nation. We simply want to reassure our children that they are safe in school and our community.

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Students, teachers, and staff at public schools in Stafford County on Monday will notice an increased police presence Monday.

It comes after a shooting at Newtown, Conn. elementary school that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy said the stepped up enforcement is not linked to any specific threat made to the school system.

More in a press release from the department:

“The safety and security of the staff and students at the schools has always been a top priority of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office,” states Sheriff Charles Jett. “In light of the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday our enhanced presence at the schools, through out the day, is intended to reassure students, faculty and parents of our commitment to ensuring a safe school day for all parties involved.”

The Sheriff’s Office is fortunate to have an excellent partnership with the schools. This partnership has allowed for the ongoing training and continuous preparation for critical incidents at the schools. A complete review of our school emergency response plans were reviewed over the past summer and every Stafford deputy underwent training, on sight, at the schools. This year the Sheriff’s Office issued radios to each school that allows them to talk directly to the Stafford County Emergency Communication Center (ECC), as well as the responding deputies. Every School Principal was trained by the Director of the ECC in the use of the radios and emergency protocol.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office extends its prayers and condolences to the individuals and families involved in the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14.

On Friday, a caller to Stafford’s 911 call center reported hearing gunshots in the area of the combined campuses of A.G. Wright Middle and Garrisonville elementary schools. While the sound of gunshots was investigated, no threat to students was found and both schools dismissed on a regular schedule.

Report of Shots Fired Causes Stir at Stafford Schools

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Officials in Stafford County said two schools were briefly placed on a secure the building status after the sheriff’s department received a 911 call about apparent shots fired in an area near campus.

No shots were fired on or near the school campus, but someone called 911 earlier this afternoon to report hearing them while classes were still in session at the combined campus of A.G. Wright Middle and Garrisonville Elementary schools in North Stafford. An official said the shots fired could have come from someone hunting in nearby woods, and callers reporting hearing shots fired can be commonplace.

“We responded to the school as a precaution after we received the report of what sounded like shots fired in the area, but nothing was found,” said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The students at both schools have been dismissed without incident after the secure the building mode was lifted, added Kennedy.

The concern comes after a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut left 27 dead today, most of the victims being young children in a kindergarten classroom.

Authorities: Teen’s Shooting Death Justified


STAFFORD, Va. – Authorities said the police-involved shooting of 17-year-old Evan Newsom was justifiable homicide.

In a statement from Virginia State Police today, authorities said two police officers shot and killed the 17-year-old who was armed with a knife during the early morning hours of Nov. 2.

The full statement can be read here.

Stafford sheriff’s deputies were called to the Newsom home that morning to assist Fauquier County deputies.

A full account from Newsom’s mother can be seen here.


Children Still in Need of Gift Sponsors

MANASSAS, Va. — Each year Volunteer Prince William works to make sure some needy children in our area receive something special for Christmas.

If the numbers of children who are still applying to be apart of the gift program are any indication, the volunteer organization has a steep hill to climb and is in need of help.

More now in an email from Volunteer Prince William Director Mary Foley:

The Un Trim A Tree Holiday Gift Program for needy kids provides 2 gift per child valued at $50 total per child from throughout the greater Prince William community. About 7,500 children have registered for this program and we are most appreciative to hundreds of donors who have provided gifts to 6,300 children so far but we still have 1,200 kids needing a donor to provide them with gifts. There are three ways one can help us meet the wishes of the last 1,200 kids. We can provide a donor with the specific wishes of a child or you can just go purchase toys that we can match to the child or simply make a cash donation to the program for toys and gift cards.

The hot toys this year include: Barbie, Princess and Dora for little girls. Or action figures, soccer balls and legos for little boys. Donations can be dropped off until next Wednesday, December 19th at the Volunteer Prince William office – 9248 Center Street in Old Town Manassas.

To receive a specific wish for a child- please call (703) 369-5292 ext. 201 or via email at: stibbs@volunteerprincewilliam.org or mfoley@volunteerprincewilliam.org

Stafford’s No-Kill Animal Shelter Adding Staff

Three dogs flown from from a kill shelter in South Carolina are welcomed at the Stafford SPCA. (File photo/ Mary Davidson)

STAFFORD, Va. – The non-profit organization in Stafford County dedicated to the betterment of animals is growing.

The Stafford County SPCA is less than five years old, is a no-kill animal shelter, and has an office on U.S. 1 in Stafford and a facility in the rural Brooke section of the county. But now they need help and are looking for some caring, talented people, and are telling the community more about what they do.

More now in a Q and A session between PotomacLocal.com and Stafford SPCA spokeswoman Lori O’Pry:

PL: What positions are you hiring for?

O’Pry: We are currently hiring for the following positions:

Shelter Technician: We prefer an applicant that has worked with a variety of different animals. We would like to offer the position to someone with a vet tech certificate since we do administer medications to shelter pets. This position includes transport to and from vet visits and spay/neuter surgeries so working knowledge of the veterinary process is helpful.

Office Staff: Applicant needs to have meangingful prior office experience and computer skills. Extra consideration will be given to someone with Quickbooks experience. Multitasking and self-direction is a must!

Volunteer Coordinator: This position requires experience leading large groups of people. Scheduling skills are very important. We’re looking for a person that can motivate themselves daily while continuing to motivate our volunteers, provide encouragement and help us build a volunteer program that serves the communities needs as well as helps us staff our shelter and care for animals.

Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator: He/She will need to have documented experience in both fields. This position works closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to plan events, fundraisers and supply drives, in addition to marketing the SPCA animals using print media, television and radio media. We’re looking for someone who thinks outside the box and can help us spread the word about our animals AND ‘brand’ the SPCA name and mission.

We’re also offering a position within our home for help with our personal and SPCA dogs and light domestic duties that will help us to focus more time on building the SPCA.

PL: What qualifications are you looking for? What will the interview process be like?

O’Pry: Interested applicants can read more about the job availability at staffordspca.org by clicking the employment link. On that page, they’ll find detailed job descriptions.

Our application process is a bit out of the ordinary, but has been very helpful in our selection process in the past. Applicants must submit a three-part application package including a Power Point presentation, a front and back, tri-fold brochure in Word format and a chronological resume including references and salary history.

All three pieces are required to be considered for any position with our organization and it demonstrates that you can work with the programs we use on a daily basis to convey your skills and your personality.

We print the packages and discuss what each applicant brings to the table and, based on their qualifications, ask them to come in for an interview and a tour of the facility.

PL: Is this the first time the Stafford SPCA has hired a new employee?

O’Pry: We’ve actually hired staff in the past and have run ads in the local paper. We currently have one full time shelter tech and three part-time shelter techs that balance school and work to help us out.

PL: What responses have you gotten from applicants for the open jobs?

We ran ads recently and had hundreds of phone calls but only had about 30 people submit application packages. We are prohibited from hiring anyone with an animal cruelty, abuse or neglect convictions and we do run criminal background checks so after you eliminate people with criminal records and those without specific skill sets, we will only be calling about 10 people for interviews.

PL: What has led to this expansion?

O’Pry: As we’ve continued to develop as an SPCA over the last couple years, we’ve found ourselves working “in” the SPCA rather than working “on” the SPCA and it’s future growth, which has required us to hire dependable staff for the day to day animal care and turn our focus toward actually building the organization.

PL: Is the facility growing to meet the needs of the community?

O’Pry: Our facility is meeting the needs of the community to the best of our ability at the moment. We have been at maximum capacity for a little over a year when it comes to our cat population. We made the decision in November 2011 to start housing dogs at the facility and have gradually moved our cats into the east wing of the former nursing home building to designate our west wing for our dog population.

With the current layout, we’re able to house eight dogs in single occupancy rooms. If dogs are able to live peacefully with another dog, we can, at times, assign roommates to increase the amount of dogs we can help but we have to be careful not to overwhelm our current staff and volunteers.

When we complete a dog adoption, we are immediately sanitizing that room and have our attention turned toward bringing in another dog in need. Animals in our care get 14 hours a day, seven days a week, care and socialization from our staff and volunteers. Our dogs get walked a minimum of four times a day, usually more, in addition to play time with other dogs on property, supervised by our staff. What this means to the community is that we’re putting well-socialized pets into homes with fewer reasons for future surrenders, cutting down on the overall demands placed on our local high-kill shelters and other no-kill rescues.

We also serve the community with our ‘no-waste’ policy for donations. Any pet food or pet supply donation that isn’t used in our facility is donated to S.E.R.V.E here in Stafford, which assists that organization in their mission to supply needy families, not only with food for themselves, but with food for their pets as well. More Stafford residents are able to continue to care for their pets in their home rather than surrendering them to an already overpopulated animal rescue situation.

PL: What lies ahead in the new future for the Stafford SPCA?

O’Pry: In our future, we plan to offer a Humane Education program within Stafford area schools. We are also looking at plans for a much needed public dog park and would like to offer law enforcement agencies in the area a K-9 training facility on our property.

PL: How can the community continue to help the Stafford SPCA grow?

O’Pry: Donate and volunteer. Those are the two most effective ways the community can support our work. As a privately run SPCA, we don’t get federal, state or local funding. Many people are under the impression that because you’re an SPCA, there are government funded programs that are readily available for you to care for all the homeless, sick and rejected animals that the community can produce.

Many people that call us are offended to hear that we have limited resources. When we’re full, we’re full and we have to tell people that we can’t take their animals in. We don’t kill [animals] to make space for more animals and in an economy where surrenders are at an all-time high and donations are at all all-time low, we just cannot be the ‘end all, be all’ solution that everyone expects.

We have plenty of alternative solutions but the general public is, for the most part, unwilling to participate in the solution to their own problems and would prefer to dump the pet and walk away. For those that are willing to contribute to being part of the solution, we’re able to provide resources.

2 Others Inside Home When Police Shot Teen Dead

Photos of 17-year-old Evan Newsom, who was shot on killed by a law enforcement officer, sit on a shelf inside his mother’s home. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)



Investigators took nine 40-caliber bullet casings from the home where a law enforcement officer shot and killed a teenager last month.

Evan Newsom, 17, was inside his home on Tacketts Mill Road just across the Stafford County line in Fauquier County, when he was shot and killed by a Stafford County sheriff’s deputy shortly after 4 a.m. Nov. 2. That deputy and others from Stafford were called to the home that morning to assist Fauquier law enforcement officials after the teenager had grabbed a knife, locked himself in the house, and did not comply with orders of police officers, said Virginia State Police.

While at least one officer was at the front door communicating with Newsom, another team of deputies – apparently from Stafford County — entered the home from a side door and approached Newsom. While inside, police maintain the 17-year-old used the knife and cut a deputy causing a superficial wound.

Police then fired a gun killing Newsom instantly. The deputy was treated for a minor injury on the scene, police said.

Virginia State Police were called to investigate the incident, and just hours after the shooting held two press conferences that offered basic details of what happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 2. After the final briefing, they promised more information would later be released in an email statement. More than six weeks later no new details have surfaced, and law enforcement officials have yet to identify which officer pulled the trigger and if they were placed on any type of routine leave pending the investigation.

Now Evan’s mother, Angela Newsom, is remembering her son and is calling for justice in what she says was a senseless death. And neighbors who live in an adjoining apartment unit told PotomacLocal.com police did not announce their presence before they opened fire, nor did they search the interior rooms of the house to make sure no one else was inside before discharging their firearms.

Raining chunks of glass

The single family house in which Angela Newsom lived with her 17-year-old son is divided into three apartments – all three of which were occupied the early morning of the the shooting. An 18-year-old who asked not to be identified told PotomacLocal.com he was lying in his bed in the basement apartment unit directly below where Evan Newsom was shot and killed. He heard gunshots ring out but had no idea what was happening, he said.

His mother, who also asked not to be identified, heard glass shatter after gunshots went off.

“It sounded like it was raining chunks of glass, and my son said ‘mom, get out of the house; they’re shooting upstairs,” she said.

Both ran outside of the house to find a sea of police cruisers with lights flashing, she said.

Car in a ditch

Fauquier deputies were initially called to the neighborhood that early morning after they found a late model Hyundai Elenatra that had run off the road and into a ditch at the nearby intersection of Aquia and Tacketts Mill roads. Evan Newsom is believed to have accidentally driven that car — which belonged to his mother — into that ditch after he took the vehicle without her permission.

The night before the shooting, Evan and his mother argued and the son hit his mother. Angela Newsom said things had never escalated to that level of violence before, and added she was not comfortable talking about what sparked the argument.

She was asleep when Evan took the car, and it’s believed that Evan walked home after the car crashed into the ditch. Angela Newsom said her son only had a learners permit and that he did not have much experience driving on two-lane country roads like the one on which they lived.

Fauquier sheriff’s deputies found the car in the ditch and apparently called the only number they had on file for the home – a phone number that belonged to a man and woman who live in a third apartment at the home.

After they got the call, Angela Newsom said the couple went to Evan, who had walked home, and offered to help him get the car back to the house. But Evan refused, said he was worried about how much trouble he was going to be in once police found out he crashed the car, and said he wanted to run away, said Angela Newsom.

He then grabbed a set of keys to Angela Newsom’s second car that was parked in the driveway, as those keys were on the same ring as the ones to the Hyundai Elantra. Evan walked to the second car but the man in the apartment next door, someone who had befriended Evan, tried to stop him from leaving. He was able to take the keys away, but Evan bit his thumb, said Newsom. The man then stopped trying to help and urged his wife to call police, she added.

Deputies arrive

By this time, the wife of the man whose thumb had been bitten had alerted Angela Newsom to what was happening. She came outside and witnessed the confrontation between the man and her son, and was unable to speak to Evan afterward, she said.

By now police had arrived at the home and Evan went back into the house and locked the door behind him. He ran to the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife, then held both arms up in the air and shouted “it’s over,” Newsom states.

Deputies then told Angela they would break the glass if Evan didn’t open the door, and threatened to use a taser gun if Evan did not put down the knife, Angela Newsom said. Minutes later, a second police unit arrived and pulled into a neighbor’s driveway but never approached the front porch where the other officer was standing, said Newsom. Instead, those deputies entered the home through the side apartment that belonged to the man who had his thumb bitten, she added. That apartment has an entryway into Angela Newsom’s home, which she says deputies used to reach her son who was standing just inside the front door of Newsom’s apartment.

Meanwhile, the deputy on the porch yelled obscenities at the 17-year-old, urged him to confront the officers, and then said “you aren’t man enough to do anything,” stated Newsom. Then, without warning, Newsom – who was standing in the front yard away from the porch — said she heard what sounded like three gunshots and then the sound of glass breaking.

Evan had been shot and killed.

Afterward, police spent hours inside the house conducting their investigation. Newsom and other witnesses said emergency crews on the scene did nothing to revive her son and made no efforts to rush him to a hospital.

When detectives asked Angela Newsom about what happened that night, she said they were more interested in how the car ended up in the ditch and less concerned about her son.

“They were more worried about the car and Evan would have done two years ago, or three years ago, and not about what happened out here that night. And at the end of the interview I had told him ‘you’re not investigating a shooting, you’re not investigating whether or not deadly force should’ve been used, you’re investigating my son,” Newsom told PotomacLocal.com.

Newsom preferred not to talk about her son’s past, a history she says investigators asked her about. Her son’s past was irrelevant to the decisions the deputies made when her son was shot, she added.

In addition to the nine shell casings, investigators also took a knife, two bullets, and a notebook, according to police documents. It’s not clear what that notebook contained.

Angela Newsom said her son wasn’t perfect, but that he wasn’t a troubled teen, either. He did not use drugs or alcohol to the best of her knowledge, she said. Following Evan’s death, investigators ordered a toxicology report but the results have yet to come back.

Newsom said her son was most likely worried that police had found the car in the ditch, and was worried about the consequences of a subsequent police report and how it would hurt his chances of getting into college to pursue his dream of becoming veterinarian.

“I want him back. [I hope] they’re charging [the police officer that shot Evan] with murder, and they’re going after Stafford County for letting this happen,” said Newsom.

Evan came to Fauquier to attend school

Evan Newsom would have turned 18-years-old in January. A senior at Liberty High School in Bealton, he was in the process of filling out college applications around the time he was killed, his mother Angela said.

His first college choice was Virginia Tech, a school which has a veterinary teaching hospital. His second choice was to attend George Mason University in Fairfax.

Evan and his mother had lived in their home since July after moving from Portsmouth. Angela, who works at Quantico Marine Corps Base, chose to live in Fauquier County because the public schools offered her son the opportunity to enroll in a block scheduling program which offered him a chance to take a full school year of classes in just one semester – something he needed if he was going to obtain the advanced studies diploma he had been working so hard to get.

“We laughed about it. I told him ‘I’m going to be driving 45 minutes to an hour to Quantico and you’re going to be on that school bus,” she said.

Evan was in the process of making friends at school, though his mother said he spent the majority of his life in Henrico County, Va. Both lived there prior to living in Portsmouth and later moving to Fauquier County.

Angela said about 10 of his friends came to his funeral service and uttered kind words about him.

“Someone said to me ‘the thing that sticks out to me most about Evan is that no matter what anybody said to him, if it bothered him, he would just get up and walk off,” said Newsom.

“He wasn’t perfect, but there is a hell of a lot worse out there walking around.”

Harrell Road Reopen in Stafford

(Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


Harrell Road was reopened after repairs were reportedly made to a broken gate at a water crossing there.

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A broken grate has forced the closure of a road in Stafford County.

More in a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Route 623 (Harrell Road) in Stafford County is closed to through traffic at Claiborne Run until further notice.

A broken grate at the water crossing has damaged the roadway, necessitating repairs.

Harrell Road is located between Forbes Street (Route 627) and Deacon Road (Route 607).

Motorists are encouraged to use the most convenient alternate route.

Real-time listings of travel times, work zones, and traffic incidents in Virginia are available on VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, 511Virginia.org. Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia.

Transportation officials did not say when repairs are expected to be completed.

Harrell Road is often flooded out during large rainstorms.

Pedestrian Struck, Teen Driver Charged

Photo: Mary Davidson

STAFFORD, Va. – A pedestrian was sent to a hospital early Friday after an oncoming car struck her.

Virginia State Police were called to the area of Bells Hill Road and Aster Lane, just off U.S. 1, when a 51-year-old woman was struck while walking on the side of the road about 7:30 a.m.

Though she was taken to a local hospital, police did not release the woman’s condition.

Investigators said a 2006 Toyota Scion was traveling south on Bells Hill Road and ran off the street, overcorrected, and then struck the pedestrian in the process.

Carly Vastinen, 18, of Stafford, is charged with reckless driving, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler.

The crash was investigated by Trooper W.D. Green.


Daytime Lane Closure on I-95


QUANTICO, Va. – The right lane of Interstate 95 southbound will close during daytime hours near mile marker 147, just south of Exit 148 at the Marine Corps Base Quantico.

“This work is regular maintenance of the interstate, and is not connected to the I-95 HOT Lanes project underway in the same area,” said VDOT spokesperson Kelly Hannon.

Beginning Monday, Dec. 10 through Friday, Dec. 14, the right lane will be closed each day from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Virginia Department of Transportation is repairing the slope of the roadway over approximately 200 yards.

Motorists may encounter minor traffic delays as they approach the work zone.

“Erosion was noticed along the outer edge of the right shoulder of I-95 near mile marker 147. The erosion at this time is occurring only near the shoulder, but due to concern that the erosion could eventually spread to the area of the general travel lanes undermining the pavement, this repair was scheduled for next week. The right lane is needed for equipment staging involved in the repair,” reported Hannon.

Real-time listings of work zones and road conditions in Virginia are available on VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, 511Virginia.org. Motorists can also access 511Virginia by dialing 511 from any telephone in Virginia.

Area Schools Begin Winter Break Dec. 24

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

Students, staff, and faculty at areas schools will be ready for a long winter’s retreat when the holidays roll around. Here’s a look at winter break schedules for schools systems in the area.

Prince William County

Schools will be closed for winter break for students and teachers Monday, December 24–Tuesday, January 1 and will reopen on January 2 on a regular schedule. Friday, December 21 is a full day for students and all Division personnel.

All School Division offices will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, December 24 and 25. School Division offices will be closed on Tuesday, January 1.

Stafford County

Schools will close Monday, Dec. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 1, and will reopen Wednesday, Jan. 2.

Friday, Dec. 21, is a regular day of instruction for Stafford County students.


Winter break for Manassas students, teachers, and staff begins Monday, Dec. 24, and will run through Tuesday, Jan. 1. Students will return to class Jan. 2.

Manassas Park

Winter break begins for students, staff, and faculty in on Monday, Dec. 24 in Manassas Park. The break runs through Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. Classes resume Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.


NewsLinks: Toddler’s Death Brings More Questions, Big Changes in Stafford

East Coast Rapist pleads guilty, again

One day after pleading guilty to rape and abduction charges in Loudoun County, the man known as the East Coast Rapist pleaded guilty to rape and abduction charges in Prince William County. [NBC 4 Washington]


Goodbye, Polo Grill

The booths at the Polo Mediterranean Bar & Grillhave been auctioned off, the walls are bare and the doors are closed for good. Wednesday was the last day of business for the Gunston Plaza restaurant, and new owner IHOP will begin renovation this February. [Lorton Patch]


Manassas toddler’s death leads to more questions in suicide

A toddler’s death during a visit with his father last month in Virginia is prompting police to also more closely investigate the suicide of the man’s mother and the shooting death of a onetime girlfriend in the past decade. [AP/WJLA]


Last race run at Old Dominion Speedway

The old Northern Virginia ain’t what it used to be. Time was, you had all sorts of space out here to run a big old track with drag races and stock cars and demolition derbies and go-karts and all type of fun. No more. [Tom Jackman / Washington Post]


McDonalds, gas stations will be lost in new Stafford interchange

With each update, designs for the planned State Route 630 interchange project in Stafford County make it clear there will be big changes to the courthouse area. [Frederickburg.com]



Stafford Lights Christmas Tree at Courthouse

(Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Chief Photographer

STAFFORD, Va. – For the first time, Stafford County officials lit the county’s Christmas Tree.

The ceremony for the illumination took place in front of the county’s courthouse in Stafford. Santa and Mrs. Claus were in attendance, and so were many residents who came to share in the holiday cheer.

Picture 1 of 4

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors joins Santa and Mrs. Claus at the lighting of the county’s Christmas Tree. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford School Board Appoints New Member

STAFFORD, Va. – The Stafford County School Board has a new member.

More in a press release from the county school system:

The Stafford County School Board appointed Holly Hazard to fill the vacated Hartwood District seat at a special meeting this evening after interviewing five candidates for the position. Ms. Hazard currently serves as president of the Margaret Brent Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. She will complete the term of office for the Hartwood seat which ends on December 31, 2013.

Board Chair Stephanie Johnson expressed her appreciation to all 17 residents who submitted their applications for the position.

The appointment comes after Doreen Phillips stepped down from the seat Nov. 1. She left after her residency came into question from the county registrar.

A total of 17 people submitted applications to join the Board. 

Possum Children’s Author Signing Books Saturday

Childrens author Jamey Long speaks to elementary school students in Dale City. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)


NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – A guy known for carrying a possum on his shoulder will be in North Stafford to sign copies of his children’s books.

Jamey Long, author of such children’s books as “A Possum’s Christmas Tale,” will be at Bella Café Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. to sign copies of books.

A Possum’s Christmas tale follows the possum “Opie” as he begins an adventure in search of the meaning of Christmas.

Long is a faculty member at George Mason University and was nominated for the Northern Virginia Community College Alumni Federation Faculty of the Year Award. He currently lives in Virginia, according to his website.

Bella Café is located at 3871 Jefferson Davis Highway in North Stafford.


Video: Stafford’s Shumate Family Set Music to Christmas Lights


STAFFORD, Va. – If you take a short trip down Spring Lake Drive in Stafford, you’re in for a long holiday lights show.

The house at 79 Spring Lake Drive is once again lit up for the holidays. And if you tune your car radio to 95.1 FM you’ll be able to listen to the Christmas music that accompanies these dancing lights.

Homeowner Randy Shumate begins setting up the light show in October. He says it’s a labor of love that he does for the neighborhood each year.

New for 2012 is a large sign with “Merry Christmas” lit up on the roof of the house.  Shumate said what started out as a small project has grown into a family holiday tradition.

Neighbors were invited to his house to see the light show Saturday night where they were greeted with hot drinks, snacks, and camaraderie. The evening light show will run through Jan. 1.


Arrest Made in Stafford Shooting

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of Montreus Peterson, age 18, of Woodford, Virginia. Peterson has been charged with 1 Count of Shooting at an Occupied Dwelling and 1 Count of Reckless Handling of a Firearm. He is currently incarcerated at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond.

Peterson was charged as a result of an incident that occurred on the evening on Saturday, November 24, 2012, where deputies responded to a residence in the Olde Forge subdivision in Stafford. The Sheriff’s Office investigation has indicated that Peterson shot several times into a residence and then fled the scene after being spotted by a Stafford deputy.

Montreus Peterson was arrested at approximately 11:50 pm on the evening of Wednesday, November 28, 2012. Members of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Special Problems Unit, Criminal Investigation Division and Patrol Division with assistance from members of the Regional Violent Crimes Safe Street Task Force located Peterson at an address on Brown Circle in Stafford. Peterson was taken into custody without incident.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

-Press release

Charges Filed in Beating Case

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Two men are under arrest and a Stafford County supervisor’s family has come together to offer support for their son.

Grant Reid Weber and Travis Christopher Milde, both 20-years-old, have been tied to a case involving breaking and entering, assault and batter, and vandalism that occurred in Stafford County.

Milde is the son of Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde.

Fredericksburg.com reported the incident:

According to Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy, a home on Matthew Lane in southern Stafford was broken into late Tuesday. A man told police that he was getting ready for bed when he heard someone coming down the hall toward his 19-year-old son’s room.

The father said he saw Weber, who was a former friend of his son, and told him it was late and to leave.

Kennedy said the intruder continued into the son’s room and began beating the 19-year-old. He ignored the father’s repeated demands that he leave and continued fighting even after the father retrieved a handgun.

Meanwhile, a second intruder jumped on the father’s back as he was screaming at the other intruder. The gun fell to the floor during the skirmish, but the father regained control of the weapon and told police he accidentally fired off a round that struck no one.

The intruders left the home in Kendallwood Estates off White Oak Road at that point, and while fleeing pushed the 19-year-old’s mother across the hallway and into another room. The intruders had apparently broken out a back window to get inside.

Paul Milde was shaken up by the incident, and on Thursday said he stands by his son.

“Our family has come together to support Travis and to provide him whatever he needs,” said Milde.

Travis Milde lives with his mother in south Stafford County.

Both Milde and Weber are being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond and are expected to appear in court Jan. 24.


Chick-fil-A VIPs Flying to Atlanta

Road delineator posts erected in the drive-through lane at the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Woodbridge forces drivers to circle the building before they can enter the lane to order food from their vehicles.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – There are some very special VIPs among us at area Chick-fil-A restaurants.

The fast food chain asked each Chick-fil-A store in the Washington area to seek written submissions from members of the community stating why they should be chosen as a Chick-fil-A VIP. The winners have been announced, and they will be flown to company headquarters in Atlanta for a private tour.

More about the winners in a press release:

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the Chick-fil-A franchise Operators, “VIPs” and their guests will fly to Atlanta for a one-day tour of the Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters and historical company landmarks.

To participate in the contest, guests submitted a written story via Facebook explaining why they should be elected “VIP” of their local Chick-fil-A restaurant. Each restaurant selected up to five “candidates,” and customers and friends voted for their favorite finalists. Election results parties were held to celebrate the five candidates and “VIP of My Chick-fil-A” contest winners at each restaurant.


Gainesville, Va. – Theresa Bickers (Chick-fil-A at Virginia Gateway)

Manassas, Va. – Angela Yeh (Chick-fil-A at Sudley Manor Drive), George Ashley (Chick-fil-A at Bristow) and Carolyn Koeppel (Chick-fil-A at Signal Hill)

Woodbridge, Va. – Kristina Schnack (Chick-fil-A at Woodbridge)

Fredericksburg, Va. – Brian Creed (Chick-fil-A in Fredericksburg), Edgard Collazo (Chick-fil-A at Spotsylvania Town Centre Mall), Suzanne Medina (Chick-fil-A at Southpoint), Kathy Truslow (Chick-fil-A at Celebrate Virginia) and Elody Shojinaga (Chick-fil-A at Central Park)

The names of all 45 people who won were announced at a party on Nov. 5. They will be flown to Atlanta on Dec. 4 where they will tour the company’s historical landmarks, according to a press release.

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