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Stafford

Sheriff’s Office Recovers Body at Belle Plains Property

News
The remains of Jason Plaster were found on the property of 881 Belle Plains Road. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

By KJ MUSHUNG

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office reports that over the weekend of March 23, they recovered what are believed to be human remains of one person. The remains were located on the property of 881 Belle Plains Road in the White Oak area of Stafford County, which has been seen swarmed by police activity in recent days.

A resident of that property, Dennis Paul Benzie, was arrested earlier this month for drug and gun-related charges. Stafford County courts system lists 12 charges so far. Law enforcement officials have not said whether Benzie is a suspect in the death of the person’s whose body was recovered or whether that person appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.

The remains were taken to the chief medical examiner’s office in Richmond for an autopsy, identification and cause of death, according to a press release.

The release also said that an extensive search of the property was conducted after police received and followed up on information, which led to the recovery.

The sheriff’s office has information to the identity of the individual found but will not be releasing it until a positive identification is determined and next of kin is notified.

According to police, the remains appear to have been there for some time, although a time frame wasn’t clarified, and the gender of the individual is currently unknown.

The sheriff’s office is treating this case as a homicide. No charges have been filed, however detectives are following up on leads.

A gate at the entrance was locked with a “No trespassing” sign.

Calls to the sheriff’s office were not returned by post time.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Stafford Sheriff Office 540-658-4400 or call Crime Solvers at 540-659-2020 or text “Stafford + your tip” to CRIMES (274637).

Meetings Set for U.S. 1 Projects in Dumfries, Stafford

News

Future of U.S. 1 topic of two public meetings this week

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Officials that want to improve U.S. 1 will hold public meetings this week to show what they plan to do.

First up is a meeting about widening the highway in the gap between Prince William and Stafford counties – linking Triangle and Stafford County’s Boswell’s Corner areas, as well as both the main and back gates of Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Since the relocation of more than 6,000 federal workers to Quantico as part of BRAC, traffic volumes during peak periods have increased on U.S. 1 at Boswell’s Corner.

During Tuesday’s meeting, federal and local officials are seeking feedback on what to do along this stretch roadway. Specifically, at Russell Road and U.S. 1 where drivers access Quantico’s back gate, three improvements have been proposed:

1. Place two signal lights on Russell Road – one where traffic accesses southbound U.S. 1 and the other near the gate where traffic accesses northbound U.S. 1.

2. Construct a cloverleaf interchange at U.S. 1 and Russell Road

3. Construct a half cloverleaf on the northbound side of U.S. 1 and place a signal light on Russell Road where drivers access southbound U.S. 1.

This third and final public meeting on this project comes after officials conducted a wide-ranging study on how to improve the corridor, which is becoming more populated with military, federal workers, and contractors who have relocated to the Quantico Corporate Center at Boswell’s Corner.

The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hilldrup Moving and Storage on 4022 Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) in North Stafford.

Improvements are also planned for U.S. 1 in Dumfries, specifically improvements at the busy intersection of U.S. 1, Curtis Drive, and Graham Park Road, will mean more turn lanes, a new northbound lane, and sidewalk improvements.

More in a statement from Dumfries’ Public Works Department:

The project elements include:

• An additional turn lane on Graham Park Road between Fraley Boulevard and Main Street

• An additional left turn lane on southbound Main Street

• Creation of a northbound lane on Main Street from Tebbs Lane to Curtis Drive/Graham Park Road

• Sidewalks and improved crosswalks

• Replacing the traffic signals at Graham Park Road/Curtis Drive and Main Street and Fraley Boulevard/Graham Park Road.

That northbound lane on Main Street, from Trebbs Lane to Graham Park Road, will mean the widening of U.S. 1 south (Main Street) from two to three lanes in. Once complete, it’ll mirror the southbound portion of U.S. 1 that runs in front of Town Hall, with two southbound lanes and one lane headed north.

Head-On Collision Injures Several, Shuts Down Road

News
A crash closed a portion of Stefaniga and Popular roads in Stafford County this morning. [Submitted photo]

By KJ MUSHUNG

STAFFORD, Va. – A head-on collision between a pickup truck and an SUV injured at least three people and shut down a road in western Stafford County today. The accident occurred before noon at the intersection of Poplar and Stefaniga roads, shutting down Stefaniga in both directions.

According to initial reports, at least three people appeared to be injured. One was transported to Stafford Hospital. One of the drivers and a second person were evaluated by emergency personnel at the scene but refused to be taken to the hospital.

A call to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office was not immediately returned.

A witness to the crash said heavy snow was falling at the time of the collision and visibility was greatly reduced. 

Stafford Sees Nearly 2 Inches of Snow

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032513-snow-07
Picture 1 of 7

[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

By MARY DAVIDSON

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – About two inches of snow fell in Stafford County overnight and into this morning. With no concerns about commuting into work, these horses near Va. 610 seemed to have no worries about the white stuff.

The old barn is on Emerald Downs Farm off Garrisonville Road in Stafford.

 

Closings, Cancellations & Delays for Monday, March 25, 2013

News

Prince William County

– Prince William County Public Schools closed. Code Red for employees. All school division activities are cancelled. The School Age Care Program will not open.

Stafford County

– Stafford County Public Schools closed. Code 1 employees. 

– Woodlands Pool opening two hours late at 10 a.m. All morning pool programs canceled. 

Colleges and universities

– George Mason University opening 10 a.m.

– University of Mary Washington opening 10 a.m.

Military installations

– Quantico Marine Corps Base – Code Yellow: 2-hour delay

– Fort Belvoir — Open 

Federal government

– Offices open on time 

Airports 

Click here to see Dulles International Airport departures 

Click here to see Regan Washington National Airport departures

Click here to see BWI departures 

Click here to see Richmond International Airport flight information 

Snow Piles Up for Morning Commute

News
Snow fell in North Stafford on Sunday afternoon. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

9:30 a.m. Monday 

A heavy, wet now fell across the region overnight making for a picturesque morning commute for those called into to work.

Storm advisories went up for Prince William and Stafford counties as the snow fell, prompting school closings and cancellations. Today’s snow also comes as Prince William students are on spring break.

Snow totals ranged between an inch and two inches. In Gainesville, three inches of snow fell. Two inches of snow fell in Montclair, and 1.5 inches fell in the rural Arkendale area of Stafford County along the Potomac River, according to the National Weather Service.

More to the Story: See our slideshow of the snow captured at Emerald Downs Farm in Stafford County. 

Throughout the day today snow is expected to changeover to rain, but a changeover back to snow is expected after 5 p.m., with all of the precipitation clearing after 8 p.m.

Rain and snow showers are possible again tomorrow with high temperatures ranging in the mid 40’s.

7:15 p.m.

Road crews say they are ready for the snow that is already falling across the region. 

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

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are mobilizing at midnight in the Fredericksburg area and the western end of the Middle Peninsula to clear and treat roads in advance of a predicted snow and rain mix on Monday morning.

VDOT crews will target Interstate 95 and primary roads first, keeping these lanes open for travel during the morning rush hour.

Along the Northern Neck and the eastern Middle Peninsula, VDOT crews remain ready to deploy as needed depending on weather conditions.

Motorists should use caution, and stay alert for slick or icy road conditions, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses, which can freeze first.

5:15 p.m. 

We’re not under any watches or warnings but the threat of snow looms for the region.

Up to an inch of snow could fall on the area overnight and through tomorrow as a storm is expected to redevelop and impact the Mid-Atlantic.

According to the storm timing, snow will begin tonight and continue into the overnight hours. After 9 a.m. Monday, snow will mix will rain throughout the day and gradually ending after 7 p.m.

Snow showers are also possible on Tuesday. Temperatures will range in the high 30s to mid 40s on both days.

The storm is moving out of the Mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys and into the Appalachian Mountains. The storm is expected to redevelop over the Atlantic Ocean and become a coastal storm that will also impact the Northeast.

Just a friendly reminder: Spring began on Wednesday.

The snowfall forecast for Northern Virginia for Sunday night into Monday, March 25, 2013. [Image: National Weather Service]

The snowfall forecast for Northern Virginia for Sunday night into Monday, March 25, 2013. [Image: National Weather Service]

Video: Fireball Lights Up Night Sky

News

*Video above taken by a home security camera in Thurmont, Md.

Bright lights in the sky: that’s what people across the east coast Friday night reported seeing.

The American Meteor Society said those lights came from a incoming meteor, or fireball, still high in the sky.

The meteor was so high it was seen from Boston to Washington, and that sent people tweeting and posting to Facebook, as well as notifying the American Meteor Society which posted more info on what people saw:

The American Meteor Society has received over 500 reports of a bright meteor that occurred near 2000 (8:00pm EDT) on Friday evening March 22, 2013. The witnesses range from along the Atlantic coast ranging from Maine to North Carolina. This object was also seen as far inland as Ohio. Individual reports may be viewed in the 2013 AMS Fireball Table. Refer to event #667 for 2013.

For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

The meteor was seen as far away as Ohio and Canada, and it’s expected to have entered the atmosphere somewhere near Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and was no longer visible as it crashed the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey.

See maps of the path of the meteor and cities and locations that reported seeing the fireball

Gaping Hole in Bridge Repaired

News
The Falmouth Bridge links Stafford County with Fredericksburg via U.S. 1. Drivers closest to the camera are headed south. [Photo: Uriah Kiser  / Potomac Local News]

By KEITH WALKER
For Potomac Local News

FALMOUTH, Va. – A hole opened up in eastbound lane of the Chatham Bridge on Saturday, but Virginia Department of Transportation Officials say everything is fine now.

According to VDOT engineer Marcie Parker, police called VDOT’s transportation and operation center and reported the 2-foot by 3-foot hole through the deck of the bridge on Va. 3 that crosses the Rappahannock River between Stafford and Fredericksburg.

“Once we arrived on scene, we closed the lane off and investigated and put a plate over the top of it. We kept the lane closed because we were concerned that our plate wasn’t going to be large enough,” Parker said.

According to Parker, the Fredericksburg Public Works Department helped by bringing in extra steel plates.

“On Sunday we went down and put all the additional plates in and then put some asphalt cold-patch around them to kind of lock them into place and we were able to open the lane again,” Parker said.

Parker said that VDOT recognizes that the Chatham and Falmouth bridges — both of which link Stafford to Fredericksburg via Routes 3 and 1, respectively, are “aging structures and will need replacement sooner than later.”

During a scheduled VDOT quarterly update on Tuesday, Parker briefed the Stafford County Board of Supervisors about the weekend bridge repair and told them that the hole that opened on the bridge Saturday in spite of recent maintenance.

“We did extensive work in the fall. We took all of the asphalt off the bridge and did a bunch of patching of the areas that needed patching at that time and we put brand new asphalt on the bridge,” Parker said. “The area that failed this weekend was not one of the areas we patched because it was good at the time. Now it is not.”

Parker said VDOT engineers will inspect the bridge again shortly.

“That does have us concerned a little bit,” Parker said of the hole in the bridge deck. “That’s why we’re going to go through and do another inspection of the bridge to see if there are any other areas de-laminated. I would think they would be done in the next couple of weeks.”

Parker said the bridge repairs, which included pouring concrete and replacing asphalt, were scheduled to be completed Wednesday afternoon.

3 Dead in Quantico Shooting

News
Vehicles that had been held for nearly three hours after the active shooter incident began were allowed to leave the base just before 3 a.m. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Breaking News

By URIAH KISER

Update 4:20 a.m.

We now know all three of the victims in this case are Marines, and that the shooter took his own life.

Once Quantico officials were alerted to the first shooting victim of this attack about 11 p.m. Thursday, authorities swarmed the area of the Officer Candidate School on Quantico Marine Corps Base. The gunman barricaded himself inside the barracks of the school while police waited outside.

Two hours after the incident began, military police with the help of Prince William police entered the barracks to find a second victim dead from a gunshot wound. The male shooter — who is believed to have shot and killed both victims — was also found inside dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said 1st Lt. Agustin Solivan.

The two shooting victims have not been identified.

Base officials and police are expected to make a statement on what transpired here this morning outside the National Museum of the Marine Corps. 

Update 4 a.m. 

Three people are dead following a shooting at Quantico Marine Corps Base, including the shooter.

Quantico spokesman 1st Lt. Agustin Solivan confirms that police that were called to the base shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday later found the shooter and two other victims. It appears two of the victms were shot by the suspect, but it’s still unclear how the suspect was killed. 

All three are believed to be Marines. 

We’re told Quantico Commander David Maxwell is slated to speak about what happened here overnight. Officials from the Prince William County Police Department that assisted base officials during the incident are also slated to speak. 

More as we have it.

Update 3 a.m.

The all-clear has been sounded at Quantico. A line of cars that had been held at the Marine Corps Base’s main gate were allowed to exit, nearly three hours after incident began.

Security at Quantico's main gate remains tight as no one is allowed on or off base. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Security at Quantico’s main gate remains tight as no one is allowed on our off base. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Update 2:20 a.m.

A local transit bus, an OmniLink bus that serves the tiny Town of Quantico – the only town in the U.S. located within a major military installation – was just allowed to exit the base.

With an SUV trailing behind it as it drove away from the main gate, the bus had been waiting on Fuller Road to exit the base since at least 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Several vehicles remain lined up at the main gate and appear to be staging for an exit.

Update 1:30 a.m.

Some emergency vehicles can be seen leaving the scene, headed away from base on U.S. 1. Police cruisers still highly visible. 

Update 1:20 a.m.

While a heavy police presence remains at Qauntico’s main gate and on side streets, police officers that had been posted along Fuller Heights Road have now left the area.

More medic units have been seen entering the area from U.S. 1. All continue to head down Fuller Heights Road.

Update 1 a.m.

Loud speakers are sounding on base as a crackling voice provides instructions.

“Attention all Quantico residents: Stay in your residences,” the voice commands.

Those same instructions were repeated twice.  The speaker system appears to be apart of a base-wide warning system to provide updates to both military members and their families who live on base.

Quantico at this hour is is on threat condition Delta – the highest threat condition for any military base across this country. Delta is used to warn of potential or occurring terrorist attacks.

Condition Delta was also used on September 11, 2001, and it indicates only military personnel are allowed on and off base.

Several emergency vehicles have descended upon the Quantico Marine Corps Base and surrounding area. One medic unit from Prince William County could be seen with a police escort turning off U.S. 1 and then proceeding down Fuller Heights Road. Both the medic and police car came into the area with lights activated but no siren.

Police are posted along Fuller Heights Road in Triangle after a shooter was reported to be on the loose on Quantico Marine Corps Base. [Photo: Potomac Local News]

Police are posted along Fuller Heights Road in Triangle after a shooter was reported to be on the loose on Quantico Marine Corps Base. [Photo: Potomac Local News]

12:30 a.m. 

New information just in to Potomac Local News indicates the shooter is not in custody, however, military officials say they know where the suspect is.

The shooter, believed to be a Marine, has barricaded himself away from police. There is still little if any information on who the shooter might be, and there is still no update on the victim.

Prince William police officers who have been called to assist in this active shooter situation are posted along the length of Fuller Heights Road in Triangle. The road runs parallel to Fuller Road, the main thoroughfare on and off base. Just after midnight, a line of cars could be seen waiting to exit the base – including an OmniLink local transit bus.

The base was reported to be on lock down.

11:50  p.m.

QUANTICO, Va. – One person is injured tonight after a shooting on Quantico Marine Corps Base.

The shooting happened at 11 p.m. at the Officers Candidate School on base. One person is reported to have been shot, and the shooter is now in custody, said Quantico spokesman 1st Lt. Agustin Solivan.

The condition of the victim is unknown at this hour. Solivan said military police and Prince William police assisted in the apprehension of the suspect.

The base remains locked down at this hour.

More as we have it.

 

Benzie Faces Charges, Details Few

News

STAFFORD, Va. – Detectives in Stafford County filed charges against one man but details in the case are scarce.

A search warrant was carried out at a home at 881 Belle Plains Road in southern Stafford County on Thursday, March 14. While there, detectives arrested Dennis Paul Benzie on seven counts of distribution of methamphetamine.

Afterward, additional charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm while in possession of narcotics, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and marijuana possession, according to a statement from the Stafford sheriff’s office.

No additional information on why police believe Benzie is a suspect in the case was provided to protect the integrity of the investigation, according to officials. Benzie’s age was not provided.

Authorities added the Belle Plains community is not at risk.

Connolly: Postal Service Cannot Legally Cut Mail Delivery

News
Rep. Gerry E. Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William. [Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William has never liked the idea of reducing mail service from six to five days per week.

Now he said the move would simply be illegal, according to a report from the GAO.

More in a press release:

The claim by the Postmaster General that the U.S. Postal Service has the right to cut its mail delivery schedule from six-to-five days “rests upon a faulty USPS premise” and there is no legislative authority from Congress allowing the change, the Government Accountability Office said today in a legal opinion requested by Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11).

“The GAO legal opinion clearly rejects the Postal Service’s attempt to circumvent the law,” Connolly said.

In its letter to Connolly, GAO says that USPS is bound by current law and the current Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government requires “USPS to continue 6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail at not less than the 1983 level.”

“This impartial and definitive GAO legal opinion makes it crystal clear that USPS cannot operate outside the legislative authority of Congress and unilaterally implement a change in delivery service that many believe will not only disrupt mail service, but also exacerbate USPS revenue losses and contribute to the decline of this constitutionally-mandated service to all Americans,” Connolly said.

In February, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would reduce delivery service of regular mail to Monday through Friday only. Packages and mail addressed to P.O. Boxes would still be delivered on Saturdays.

 

Overnight Road Work to Cause I-95 Closures

News
Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

QUANTICO, Va. – Road crews plan to close a portion of Interstate 95 at Quantico this evening and overnight.

More in a press release:

Weather permitting, Thursday night March 21 (Friday morning March 22), Between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. the Virginia Department of Transportation will have intermittent full road closures on I-95 north and south near Exit 148, Russell Road, mile marker 148, for utility work. Closures will occur up to four times, lasting no longer than 15 minutes each to allow crews to relocate cable lines.

Motorists may experience minor delays. The last exit on I-95 north before the work zone is Exit 143, Garrisonville Road (Route 610), and on I-95 south the last exit is 150, Joplin Road (Route 619). Signs and message boards will be posted along the corridor to inform motorists of construction activities. State police will be onsite directing traffic.

Snow Looms as Area Greets 1st Day of Spring

News
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom on the corner of Garrisonville Road and Salisbury Drive in North Stafford. They are a welcome sight on this first day of spring. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Spring has sprung, we think. Wednesday marked the vernal equinox – the first day of spring.

Those who follow astronomy say it’s the most important day of the year, but for those firmly grounded on earth the date usually marks signs of warmer temperatures to come.

But a look at the extended forecast shows more possibilities for snow on Sunday night into Monday. All of this stems from approaching from Texas into the southern Gulf states to include a mix of snow, sleet, ice, and thunderstorms for portions further south. For us, unseasonably cold temperatures will remain in place making it feel more like January than spring, according to the National Weather Service.

Right now, it looks like we’ll see rain for most of Sunday, and then a mix of rain and snow Sunday night into Monday.

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom on the corner of Garrisonville Road and Salisbury Drive in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom on the corner of Garrisonville Road and Salisbury Drive in North Stafford. [Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Extra Funds Few as Stafford Teachers Flee for Better Pay

News
021011 Stafford Courthouse

By KEITH WALKER
For Potomac Local News

Johnson

Johnson

STAFFORD, Va. – Prospects of extra money going to Stafford County schools next year doesn’t look promising.

Stafford County Public Schools School Board Chairman Stephanie J. Johnson met some resistance Tuesday afternoon when she presented the school board’s proposed Fiscal 2014 budget to the Stafford Board of County Supervisors.

Milde

Milde

The proposed budget includes an $18.8 million increase over last year’s $244 million budget.

Johnson said the extra money would help the school board buy two new school buses and security cameras for 230 buses, reinstate remedial summer school and hire 15 special education teachers, one gifted education teacher, 19 special education paraprofessionals, two bus drivers and two new bus monitors.

Johnson went on to say that the budget increase would also be used for a six percent pay increase for school employees as well as a 2.5-percent step increase for school employees and said that 85 percent of the schools budget went toward salaries and benefits.

Johnson’s told the board that Stafford County schools lost 118 teachers in 2009 and 172 teachers in 2010. In 2011, the school system lost 218 teachers and 239 teachers left the school system in 2012.

Johnson said she believes many of the teachers left for better pay in surrounding jurisdictions.

“Retaining our teachers has become more of a challenge over the past four years,” Johnson told the supervisors. “Highly effective teachers gravitate toward a school system that values their years of experience and expertise.”

Among other things, the school board’s proposed budget would also reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade at Ferry Farm Elementary School and expand slots in the Virginia Preschool Initiative Program for 4-year-olds from 50 to 154 students.

Even with the expansion, there would not be room for all of the 4-year-olds in the county to attend preschool, Johnson said.

“There are currently 200 children on the waiting list at our nationally-recognized Head Start program,” she said.

After her presentation, Johnson took questions from county board members that included how the school system calculates student-to-teacher ratios, the school system’s budget process, how the school board budgets for health benefits, if schools were safe and how much money comes into the system from outside sources.

Johnson said that $3.2 million of the requested $18.8 million increase came from state, federal and other sources. She promised the supervisors she would get back to them with detailed answers to the other questions.

Aquia District Supervisor Paul V. Milde, III said he recognized that teacher raises were always “held in the balance” of tight budgets, but reminded Johnson that money was still short.

“You know as well as we do that we don’t have $18 million,” Milde said. “I know you need money, but you know that we literally don’t have it.”

None of the other supervisors contradicted Milde’s statement.

Detour Planned with Upcoming Russell Road Closure

News
Construction of the 95 Express Lanes at Quantico. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

QUANTICO, Va. – A road closure is coming to Russell Road at Quantico starting Sunday.

More in a press release from Virginia Megaprojects:

Weather permitting, the Virginia Department of Transportation will close Russell Rd., east and west under I-95 for overnight steel placement, starting on Sunday March 24, to Wednesday March 27, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Through traffic on Russell Rd. and I-95 northbound traffic exiting to Russell Rd. west will be directed onto I-95 north to Exit 150, Joplin Rd. (Route 619) west, follow signs to I-95 south to Exit 148, Russell Rd. west. Through traffic on Russell Rd. and I-95 southbound traffic exiting to Russell Rd. east will be directed onto I-95 south to Exit 143A, Garrisonville Rd. (Route 610) east, follow signs to I-95 north to Exit 148, Russell Rd. east.

Traffic impacts will be minimal as Russell Rd. primarily serves the Marine Corps Base Quantico that will be closed during overnight hours. Police will be on site for motorist’s safety.

Telegraph Road Bridge to Close for 9 Months

News
A two-lane bridge that carries traffic on Telegraph Road over I-95 in North Stafford will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate High Occupancy Toll lanes on the highway below. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

QUANTICO, Va. – The two-lane bridge that carries traffic to and from U.S. 1 to Quanitco Marine Corps Base via Telegraph Road will close for nine months starting March 27.

Here’s more information in a press release about the upcoming closure, which is part of the 95 Express Lanes Project:

[Image: VDOT]

[Image: VDOT]

The 95 Express Lanes project will close the Telegraph Road bridge over I-95 near Quantico for approximately nine months on or about March 27, 2013, weather permitting. This closure will allow crews to safely remove and build a new Telegraph Road bridge that will span over I-95 and the future 95 Express Lanes located in the median.   

Detour

During the approximate nine-month closure, all Telegraph Road traffic will be detoured to Russell Road or U.S. Route 1 to access both north and southbound I-95.

What Drivers Can Expect

Motorists can expect additional travel time during peak AM and PM rush of 5 – 8 minutes when using the Russell Road or Route 1 detours to access I-95 or Telegraph Road.

Construction Details

Crews will close Telegraph Road on both sides of the bridge at I-95 to set-up work zones. In order to safely remove the current structure, nighttime demolition will occur with multiple lanes closed on I-95 north and south. Total bridge demolition will take approximately one month to complete. Once the structure is removed, crews will prepare the area for daytime pile driving for new bridge foundation construction. The new Telegraph Road bridge will reopen to traffic in late 2013.

Not on ‘Daily Show’ (That’s the News)

News
The Virginia Capitol in Richmond. (Photo: KJ Mushung)

By PAIGE BAXTER
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – 

Last year around this time, Virginia was in the spotlight: Newspapers and talk show hosts, like comedian Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show,” ripped state legislators for passing a bundle of laws targeting abortion.

But during the legislative session that ended last month, there was hardly a peep about the issue from members of the General Assembly.

The battle over women’s reproductive health rights has been pushed to the sidelines; however, advocates on both sides of the issue have not sheathed their swords. The battle line still lies where it was drawn last year.

While anti-abortion legislation before the General Assembly drew national attention in 2012, this year was quiet: Legislation from both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” sides was either immediately killed or left in a committee during the 2013 session.

“There weren’t a lot of changes in 2013, but the changes in 2012 were very good for the pro-life movement,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

Among the slew of anti-abortion measures last session, two became law:

· A bill requiring women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion. Originally, it required a transvaginal ultrasound. But at Gov. Bob McDonnell’s recommendation, the requirement was changed to an abdominal ultrasound exam instead.

 

· A bill requiring clinics that perform abortions to meet the building code for hospitals. Abortion rights groups said this requirement would force most clinics to close.

 

Abortion rights advocates had hoped to reverse those laws during the 2013 legislative session, but they were unsuccessful. For groups like the Virginia Society for Human Life, this represented success.

House Bill 1560, proposed by Delegate Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, and Senate Bill 1082, proposed by Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Painter, would have removed the ultrasound requirement for a woman seeking an abortion.

The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 8-7 to kill Northam’s proposal. (All the Republicans on the panel voted to spike the bill; all the Democrats voted to advance it.)

Kory’s bill was tabled on an unrecorded voice vote by a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee.

The defeat of these efforts to repeal the ultrasound law was the best outcome of the 2013 session, said Olivia Gans, the president of VSHL.

“We haven’t lost any ground,” she said.

Abortion right advocates had filed 11 bills for consideration by the 2013 General Assembly. One proposal, for example, sought to define birth control as “contraceptive methods that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Birth control shall not be considered abortion.”

But most of the proposals were not even heard in committees, said Caroline O’Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. She believes a major factor is that all of the House seats – as well as the governor’s office – are up for election in November.

“It seems clear that in this election year, it seems that they’ve been ignoring this important issue,” O’Shea said. “This session showed yet again that the current makeup isn’t conducive to protecting women’s rights and access.”

(Bills favored by abortion opponents suffered a similar fate during the 2013 legislative session. For instance, a committee refused to hear a proposal by Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, to outlaw abortions performed “solely and exclusively on account of the sex of the unborn child.” Another committee refused to take up Marshall’s bill, carried over from the previous session, to give a fetus the same right as all “persons, citizens, and residents” of Virginia.)

For women’s rights advocates, the fight appears to be more difficult now.

“The Virginia legislature has a long way to go before representing the pro-choice values that most Virginians hold,” O’Shea said. According to an exit poll done for the 2012 elections, 33 percent of voters in Virginia said abortion should be illegal and 63 percent said it should be legal in most cases.

According to Farnsworth, it’s hard to predict what the 2014 General Assembly will do about abortion because of the gubernatorial race. The main candidates are Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli, now attorney general, strongly opposes abortion. He received a campaign donation of $1.5 million from the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group.

McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, supports abortion rights, according to his official website.

 

New 95 Express Lanes Should Speed Up Tysons Commute

News

Dear Mega Mike, 

I work in Tysons Corner. How will the Express Lanes on 95 help me get work faster?

Shirley Azul
Woodbridge, Va. 

Dear Shirley, 

The 95 Express Lanes will connect seamlessly to the 495 Express Lanes resulting in a more predictable trip.  The Express Lanes operator guarantees a minimum of 45 mph, so the trip will be faster than the congested traffic on the general purpose lanes during rush hour. 

Recently the Tysons Express buses from Prince William County have revised their schedule with an average 17 minute time savings because travel on the 495 Express Lanes.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

Stafford Crews Rescue Osprey Tangled on Antenna

News
Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to spring an Osprey from an apparent  self-induced trap. [Submitted photo]

STAFFORD, Va. – Fire and rescue crews in Stafford County on Tuesday admit they were called to an unusual rescue.

More in a press release:

On March 19, 2013 the Stafford County Fire and Rescue units assisted the Stafford County Animal Control Officers with an unusual rescue.

A large Osprey was perched on an antenna atop the water tower at the Aquia Water Treatment facility. At some point the Osprey’s talons became tangled within the antenna wires preventing it from taking flight.

The Stafford County Utilities staff determined they were unable to reach the bird then contacted the Animal Control and Fire and Rescue Departments to assist.

By utilizing the Fire and Rescues Ladder Tower, the combined efforts of Animal Control and Fire and Rescue were successful in reaching the Osprey freeing it from the entanglement.

The Aquia Water Treatment facility is located on Coal Landing Road, just off U.S. 1.

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Stafford High Wins ‘Buckle Up, Drive Sober’ Contest

News

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Stafford High School won a statewide competition aimed at getting drivers to buckle up and drive sober.

A second high school in the county also was recognized by competition judges.

More in a press release:

Stafford High School in Stafford County isthe statewide winner of the 2013 “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), The Century Council, and the Virginia State Police Association (VSPA).

Stafford High School won the Northern Virginia Region of the campaign, and then defeated the four other regional winners,for the grand prize during an unannounced seat belt check by the Virginia State Police and YOVASO staff. Stafford recorded a 92.2% percent seat belt use rate during the check.

In addition to the statewide and regional winners ,five Judges’ Choice Winners were selected, based on creativity and implementation of the buckle up, drive sober message. Schoolst hat placed in the three? week safe driving campaign are listed below.

Regional Winners:

Northern Virginia – Stafford High School, Stafford Co.

Shenandoah Valley – Fort Defiance High School, Augusta Co.

Greater Richmond – Middlesex High School, Middlesex Co.

Central/Piedmont – Franklin County High School, Franklin Co.

SW Virginia – Blacksburg High School, Montgomery Co.

Judges’ Choice Winners:

Northern Virginia – Mountain View High School, Stafford Co.

Shenandoah Valley – Stuarts DraftHigh School, Augusta Co.

Greater Richmond –Glen Allen High School, Henrico Co.

Central/Piedmont –Heritage High School, City of Lynchburg

SW Virginia – Lord Botetourt High School, Botetourt Co.

As the statewide winner, Stafford High School students will receive a day with the UNITE International DUI/DWI Simulator, along with a banner and plaque. UNITE’s Arrive Alive simulator is the top ranked drunk driving and distracted driving prevention program for young drivers.

All other Regional Winners will receive $500, a banner and plaque. Judges’ Choice Winners will receive $100. All prizes were funded by The Century Council. Across Virginia, 41 schools participated in the campaign which challenged students to develop a creative project for their school that educated students about seat belt safety and the dangers of driving under.

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