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NewsLinks: Judge Rules on Wolfe Trial, Allowing a Second Term for Va.’s Gov.?

Judge Grants Release of Virginia Man Who Spent Years on Death Row

A Virginia man who spent years on death row could be released Thursday. [NBC Washington]

Driver guilty in Stafford crash

A King George County man, who was driving drug-impaired at the time of a fatal two-vehicle crash, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Stafford man. [Fredericksburg.com]

Despite ‘cliff’ resolution, local economy will be slowed

While Congress was able to reach a last-minute stopgap solution Tuesday to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the future of the region’s economy is still somewhat uncertain. [Fairfax Times]

Metro’s service plans for Inauguration Day

The presidential inauguration is less than three weeks away. Celebrants are booking plane tickets, reserving hotel rooms and plotting out road trips. Many people are taking Metro to the actual event, so here’s a rundown of what we know about the transit agency’s plans for that day. [Washington Post]

Morning Read: Bolling Still Mulling An Independent Run

On the John Frederick’s radio show Wednesday, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said he is still “keeping the door open” on an independent gubernatorial run. [NBC Washington]

Should Virginia’s Governor Be Able to Run for Reelection?

Virginia is the only state that limits its governor to a single, four-year term, a vestige of the distrust Americans had for executive power during the American Revolution. Now, more than two centuries later, the commonwealth may finally be ready to ditch the longstanding term limit and allow Virginia’s governor to run for reelection. [Fairfax  Connection]


Stafford Sheriff Hopes More Deputies in Schools will Build Stronger Link to Educational Community

Stafford fire and rescue Acting Chief Mark Lockhart, Sheriff Charles E. Jett, and ATF Special Agent Richard Marianos appear at a press conference in Stafford. [File photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com]

STAFFORD, Va. – Students in Stafford County went back to school for the first time Wednesday after a long winter break.

Waiting to greet them was a new directive from county Sheriff Charles E. Jett which will bring a increased presence of sheriff’s deputies in schools. Now, every deputy in Stafford County has been instructed to stop into schools located along their beat. Their mission: get to know students, faculty, staff, and build a stronger relationship with the educational community.

“Now, we are basically saying, we’re going to have every deputy incorporate in their patrol day opportunities to stop by and check on the faculty and students, and also become extremely familiar with all of the schools’ layouts and their various scheduling during the day – outside activities and inside activities,” said Jett.

The new imitative comes less than a month after 26 people were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Deputies in Stafford and police departments in jurisdictions across the region stepped up security at schools in the wake of the shootings.

But a law enforcement presence inside the county schools is nothing new, according to a press release about the stepped-up enforcement:

Currently in Stafford County, all of the high schools have a full time School Resource Officer in each school and the eight middle schools share two School Resource Officers. There are two Stafford County deputies assigned exclusively to teach the DARE Program at the elementary level.

Overall, this will mark the first time the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office will have such a large presence inside of schools. Jett reminds residents, just as he did immediately after the Sandy Hook shootings, the increased presence is precautionary and is not in response to any known threats.

Stafford has been called one of the “largest small sheriff’s offices” in Virginia, and Jett admits his deputies don’t have a lot of free time and resources to take on additional responsibilities. It’s unclear what impact this new program will have on his department or staff but it is something he will monitor in the coming weeks for efficiency and effectiveness.

“There is not a lot of uncommitted time our deputies have during the day, but we’ve also incorporated other units to be apart of this…our criminal investigations units with our detectives, even our command staff, traffic safety and, obviously, the juvenile services unit is already in the schools,” added Jett.

According to a sheriff’s department press release, the department plans to do even more to protect through a new neighborhood watch program:

In the near future the Sheriff’s Office will begin work on a new initiative called Protect Our Children Neighborhood Watch Program. The premise of this program is to include neighborhood residents in our attempt to help keep our children safe. The Sherriff’s Office will develop a training module, identify residents near schools and host meetings at the schools in the near future. These trained residents will be acting as eyes and ears, assisting the Sheriff’s Office in identifying suspicious activities or individuals in the neighborhoods around the schools.

NewsLinks: University of Mary Washington a Top Value, Transit Benefit Extended

UMW Tuition Rose, Ranked 53 by Kiplinger for Value

In-state tuition and fees at the University of Mary Washington rose five percent to $9,246 between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. [Patch]

New Year Brings Increased Rates on Dulles Toll Road

As the calendar flips 2013, increased toll rates have come into effect for travelers on the Dulles Toll Road. [NBC Washington]

Fiscal cliff deal restores transit benefit

Congress reached a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and transit riders get a bonus: the Senate included a provision raising the federal transit benefit to $240 per month.

Human Remains Found Behind GEICO Badly Decomposed

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Human remains found behind a call center for GEICO auto insurance have been sent to Richmond for examination.

Investigators were called about 3 p.m. Monday to a wooded area behind the GEICO office off U.S. 17 in Stafford County to investigate the found remains. They were located by a group of people waking in the woods who then called 911 to report what they had found. The remains were decomposed.

“It appears they had been there for a while,” said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office was able to wrap up its investigation and Kennedy said he was not aware of any businesses in the area that were impacted by the work of the detectives.

Region’s First Baby of 2013 Born at Stafford Hospital

(Photo: Mary Davidson)

*This story has been corrected based on new information provided by Stafford Hospital.


Stafford Hospital Center welcomes the region’s first new baby of the year.

Officials there said a baby boy was born to Lisa McGill at 10:39 a.m. Victor and Veronica Nevarro of Quantico at 6:27 a.m. . The child was seven pounds, 14 10 ounces, and 19 20.5 inches long.

Other hospitals in the area were still waiting for expectant mothers to give birth about noon. Prince William Hospital said a birth at their campus was imminent.

11 a.m.

Who will be the first new baby born in the Potomac Communities in 2013? We simply don’t know yet.

Both hospitals in the area, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and Stafford Hospital Center, have are still waiting to welcome their New Year’s baby.

At Prince William Hospital in Manassas, two women are in labor but there is no baby yet, according to nurses there.

There are three people who are about to have babies at this hour at Stafford Hospital, and we’ve been instructed to check back within the hour to see who will be that hospital’s first new baby of 2013.

It’s a tradition at all area hospitals to mark the first birth of the New Year.


Revelers Ring In 2013 at Stylish Stafford Hotel Bash

Party goers at the Wingate Hotel in Stafford County line up for an all-you-can-eat buffet as they rang in 2013. [Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A sweet piquanté pepper filled with cream cheese called a Peppadew was a favorite food on New Year’s Eve.

“I think it’s one of most unique things on the menu tonight,” said Tracy Augstell.

Her “Taste of Excellence” company catered Stafford County’s most formal New Year’s Eve celebration at the Wingate Inn off U.S. 17. About 200 people were expected at the first of its kind event at the hotel, and many came in black tie and evening gowns.

Those peppers complimented a fully catered buffet complete with spinach artichoke dip, chicken wings and antipasto salad. There was also a live band, a ballroom for dancing, a photo place, and an opportunity to ring in the New Year in style.

As many came to ring in 2013, the celebration was also an effort to highlight various local businesses that partnered with the hotel to put on the event. Some party goers – all of whom paid at least $75 per couple to attend the event – took advantage of special hotel offers at the Wingate to spend the night in suites with a Jacuzzi and a special 1 p.m. Tuesday checkout time.

Robert Smoot, who produced the event, recently moved from Maryland to Stafford and wanted to bring quality entertainment to the area. Some guests that arrived early said they had attended some of his previously held events in Alexandria and appreciated having an event held so close to home. Almost everyone said they enjoyed not having to drive to Washington or Richmond to attend a formal New Year’s event.

For one couple, this was the first time in their 20-year marriage that they went out for a New Year’s Eve celebration.

“We found a sitter for the kids, my husband is here, and we are having a great time,” said Tamara Poole, of Stafford.

While she was enjoying her evening, she said he was anxious about what the New Year would bring in the wake of the fiscal cliff and looming higher taxes. With any luck, congress will fix the fiscal cliff problem, she said.

Others at the party also had their finances on their minds and had goals for 2013.

“I’m hoping to get a new house this year,” said Michelle Poindexter, of Fredericksburg.

Another woman from Spotsylvania said they don’t pay much attention to New Year’s Resolutions, they just came for the party atmosphere.

“Normally we have a party at home, but I said ‘let’s go out this year’ and here we are,” said Deb Flemming.

Next year, Stafford County plans a large New Year’s Eve party at Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford to ring in 2014 as part of the county’s 350th birthday celebration.

Picture 1 of 6

[Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com]

SoberRide Offering Free Cab Rides Home Tonight

It’s New Years Eve and many people in our area will be out celebrating the coming of 2013. The holiday also means you can get a free cab ride home from your party – a cab with fares up to $30.

The annual SoberRide program is organized each year by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program and is designed to curb drunken driving on area streets. To use the service, riders must call 1-800-200-TAXI to order a cab for the ride home.

There are a few rules to note to use this service, and a select number of cab companies in Virginia and Washington are participating.

More from the WRAP website:

WRAP’s SoberRide , called one of the nation’s most successful free cab ride programs for would-be impaired drivers, has helped to ensure greater Washington, DC residents have a safe way home on high-risk holidays. Since 1993, WRAP has provided over 55,851 safe rides home.

Currently, SoberRide operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and Halloween.

WRAP’s SoberRide provides a free cab ride home up to a $30 fare.

Callers are financially responsible for anything over $30.

You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service. All calls must originate in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland; the Cities of Rockville, Bowie, College Park, Gaithersburg, Greenbelt and Takoma Park in Maryland; the District of Columbia; Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Eastern Loudoun Counties in Virginia; and the Cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.

You cannot reserve a SoberRide or schedule a pickup in advance. To receive a ride, you must call 1-800-200-8294 (TAXI) during the program hours. A SoberRide call operator will direct your request to the correct participating cab company.

Participating Taxi Companies:

Alexandria Yellow Cab (Alexandria)

Barwood, Inc. (Montgomery County)

Fairfax Yellow Cab (Fairfax County)

Loudoun Yellow Cab (Eastern Loudoun County)

Manassas Cab Company (Prince William County)

Red Top Cab Company (Arlington County)

Silver Cab of Prince George’s County (Prince George’s County)

Yellow Cab of District of Columbia (District of Columbia)

Yellow Cab of Prince William County (Prince William County)

When waiting for a SoberRide, please watch for a cab from the participating taxi company in the area from which you are calling.

NewsLinks: Justin Wolfe Trial, VRE Gets Its Money, Stafford Development Lawsuit Continues

Ruling Could Stymie Wolfe Trial

Christmas Eve ruling by a federal judge could make the re-trial of Justin Michael Wolfe in the March 2001 murder of Daniel Robert Petrole Jr. very difficult if not impossible. U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson, who previously vacated Wolfe’s 2002 conviction, has ordered Wolfe’s release and barred the state from using any testimony, past or present, from the man who admittedly killed Petrole. [Patch]

VRE to receive expected bulk of ‘access fee’ dollars

Virginia Railway Express will receive the bulk of its expected allocation from the state to cover the fees it pays to host rail lines, officials say, ending a two-month wait over millions of dollars VRE said it needed to continue to provide passenger rail service. [Washington Post]

Response to Stafford developer lawsuit filed

Stafford’s county attorneys last week filed a response to the lawsuit from developer D.R. Horton. D.R. Horton, owner of a 472-acre tract of land known as Clift Farm Quarter, filed suited asking the Circuit Court to order the county to approve a cluster subdivision concept plan. [Frededericksburg.com]

Manassas firefighters save Christmas for family

On Thursday, Dec. 20, the A-squad from the City of Manassas Fire & Rescue Department responded to a fire started by a dryer in a home on Oakgrove Court in the City of Manassas. While members of the City of Manassas Fire & Rescue Department made short work of the fire, there was extensive smoke damage to the home. The family’s home and possessions were ruined – right before Christmas. [City of Manassas website]

Area New Years Events Offer Everything from Concerts to Ballroom Dancing

Double New Years Event at Harvest Life Changers Church

Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge will hold a two-day New Year’s celebration starting with a concert Sunday night and a worship service on New Year’s Eve.

Grammy nominee Tye Tribbett, the Harvest Life Changers Choir, and comedian Akintunde are scheduled to take the stage at 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the show are $25 each for adults and those between 4 and 17-years-old. Children three and under are free.

The following night, Harvest Life Changers will hold a free evening of praise during a New Year’s Eve service. No ticket is required to attend this event.

Stafford Celebrating New Years at Ballroom Event

It’ll be ball gowns and top hats in Stafford County for New Years Eve. (OK, maybe not that formal) but the Wingate Inn off U.S. 17 in south Stafford will hold an elegant evening of music and dancing in their ballroom.

Guests will be treated to an all-you-can eat hors d’oeuvres bar, New Years Eve party favors, a champagne toast, and a cash bar. Those who want to make a night of it can stay at the hotel for a special rate.

Guests will be charged $75 per person to attend the ballroom event, and there are special packages of up to $250 per couple that offer a room with a Jacuzzi, breakfast in bed, and a checkout time of 1 p.m.

Those who want to attend the event can call the Wingate at 540-368-8000.

Fredericksburg First Night Offers Wide Range of Entertainment Options

Revelers have once again been invited to Fredericksburg First Night for a street festival and fireworks.

Known for the Pear Drop, and in more recent years the Pineapple drop at midnight, the city this year will hold a World Illumination along with its annual New Year’s fireworks display. Thousands of revelers fill pack Caroline and Sophia streets, and surrounding areas in Downtown Frederickburg to ring in the New Year.

The event is alcohol free, and the street festival is free to attend. Buttons are being sold for those who want access to live music performance tents and other premium attractions.

The festival begins at 7 p.m. and will feature 15 stages, 30 entertainers, events for children, dancing, carriage rides, trolley rides, a Chinese Dragon, as well as other attractions.

More information for the festival is available at fredericksburgfirstnight.com/faqs.

Helicopters Prompt Calls to Manassas 911 Center

MANASSAS, Va. – Officials in Manassas said they are getting phone calls from concerned residents about helicopters flying overhead.

In response, police and operators at the Manassas 911 call center have been instructed to provide information from the National Nuclear Security Administration. According to that agency, the helicopters are measuring naturally occurring radiation in the Washington area.

More in a press statement from the NNSA:

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will be flying a helicopter over portions of Washington, D.C., between Dec. 27, 2012, and Jan. 11, 2013. The purpose of these flights is to measure naturally occurring radiation in the Washington, D.C., area.

The radiation assessment will cover approximately 70 square miles and NNSA will complete the assessment using a helicopter equipped with remote gamma radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas, 150 feet or higher above the ground surface, at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour. Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours and it is estimated to take about two weeks to complete the assessment.

The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. NNSA is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.

The NNSA’s Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) out of Joint Base Andrews will be performing the assessment for local law enforcement of Washington, D.C.

The agency has several social media channels including Facebook and Twitter but none warned about the overhead helicopter flights.


Crime Watch: Charges filed in Strangulation, Missing Video Games Cases

2 face charges after video games stolen, pawned

Two people face charges after video games that were reported stolen were nearly sold to a pawn shop.

Stafford sheriff’s deputies were called to the retailer on at 217 Garrisonville Road in North Stafford about 5:50 p.m. Thursday. There they were shown video of two people suspected of stealing video games. Afterward, the deputies took the description of the suspects and of their vehicle and issued a look out for them.

A short time later, deputies got a call from a nearby pawn shop on Garrisonville Road that two people matching the description of the suspects were inside of the store. The deputy went to the area of the pawn shop and saw a car that matched the one in the surveillance video and then stopped it, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The deputy saw a security case similar to ones used to house videos games at Walmart. The deputies later learned the suspects took items from Walmart three times on Thursday, said Kennedy.

Nathan Infanti, Brooke Crest Road, Stafford, 21, and Christopher Cunico, Farragut Drive, Stafford (no age provided), face multiple charges including grand larceny, conspiracy to commit a felony, obtaining money by false pretense, and possession of burglarious tools, said Kennedy.

Both were held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under a $3,000 bond.

Keys in door leads to stolen car

A black 2013 Nissan Altima was stolen from a home on Spruce Lane in the England Run neighborhood of Stafford County about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

The driver told investigators she had left her keys inside the door of her house while carrying in items that had been inside of her car. When she went back outside a few minutes later she saw the car was gone, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Anyone with information on the theft is encouraged to contact Stafford County Crime Solvers.


Woman reports strangulation 

Strangulation | Domestic Assault & Battery – On December 26th at 5:14PM, police responded to the 13900 block of Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) for a domestic. The victim, a 29 year old woman of Woodbridge, reported to police that she and the accused were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter, the accused assaulted and strangled the victim. Following the altercation, the accused fled the residence. Minor injuries were reported. Warrants have been obtained against the accused. Attempts to locate the accused have been unsuccessful.

Wanted: (Photo from September 2011)

Jose MEDRANO, 45, of the 13900 block of Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge

Described as a Hispanic male, 5’7”, 195lbs, medium build with short black hair, brown eyes and a mustache

Wanted for strangulation and domestic assault & battery


Teen Stabbed After Fight in Stafford

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Detectives in Stafford County are investigating what led to the stabbing of a juvenile last night.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to a fight in the Hollymead subdivision Thursday. That tussle involved multiple juveniles – one who was stabbed and was taken to an area hospital for treatment, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

No charges have been filed in the case, which is still under investigation.

Sources tell PotomacLocal.com that the victim is a 16-year-old male who was stabbed in the back.


Expect Snowy Start to Weekend, Clearing Skies for New Years Celebrations


1:20 p.m.

Roadway crews are getting ready for the winter weather. Transportation crews in the Fredericksburg and Stafford areas tell us how they’re preparing.

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

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews in the Fredericksburg area will report to duty at midnight Saturday in advance of forecasted snow.

VDOT crews and hired personnel will target Interstate 95 and areas west of Route 301 in Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

The Fredericksburg area is expected to receive snow beginning around 4 a.m. through mid-morning.

Approximately a half-inch of snow is expected to accumulate on grassy areas by the end of the event.

Motorists are likely to encounter wet pavement on roadways Saturday, and are urged to proceed with caution. Stay alert for slick or icy road conditions, especially on bridges, ramps and overpasses, which can freeze first.

Rain is expected on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. As a precaution, equipment has been prepared in these areas, and staff can be deployed as needed to treat roads or remove snow.

VDOT will monitor the weather on Friday and Saturday, and will adjust staffing and equipment levels in response to conditions.

8 a.m. 

Snow should begin falling in our area sometime after 4 a.m. Saturday as another bout of winter weather moves into the region.

Expect mostly snow for the area until 4 p.m. Saturday and then the precipitation type will changeover to rain. Less than one inch of accumulation is expected for the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Neighborhoods further north and west will see more snow while areas to the south and in southern Maryland will see mostly rain.

This is all part of another large winter weather storm that is pushing its way east. It comes on the heels of another storm that brought sleet and snow to the area on Wednesday. That same weather system was blamed for tornadoes that broke out on Christmas Day in Alabama.

After this next round of snow moves out, the forecast for New Year’s Eve celebrations looks calm and cool with high temperatures in the high 30s and with a low about 29 degrees. Expect rain on New Year’s Day, according to the weather service.


10 Most Clicked Stories of 2012

Powerful storms, car crashes that injured and killed youth, the opening of new restaurants, the loss of a familiar face at one of the area’s most famous restaurants, and the changing landscape of Woodbridge topped the list of the most clicked news stories of the year on PotomacLocal.com.

See the list below of the top 10 stories and tell us what should get an honorable mention.

Double Fatal Crash Investigated in North Stafford

On an early morning in September, a car crashed on Va. 610 in Stafford County, collided with a tree, and instantly killed a 15-year-old girl and 23-year-old man. Several others were injured.

4 Seriously Injured in Aquia Crash

The site of twisted metal wrapped around a tree jolted the Aquia Harbour neighborhood in July. Police said 19-year-old Daniel Ringler had just bought a new car, loaded it with some friends, and went for a drive.

The car crashed, two passengers were ejected, and police said alcohol appeared to have been involved in the crash.

New Dumfries Clinic on Schedule to Open

The Dumfries area got a lot of attention this summer when a new military health clinic relocated there from Woodbridge. The Dumfries Health Center is expected to serve 47,000 patients and is part of the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital System.

Connolly Calls on USPS to Release Hidden Report

The U.S. Postal Service completed a study that examined the impacts of cutting back mail delivery service from six days to five days per week. When the agency tried to keep the results of the survey a secret, it didn’t sit well with one area congressman.

Gloria Spooner Dies

If you’ve lived in the Potomac Communities for any length of time, especially if your path took your through Quantico – the crossroads of the Marine Corps – you know about the Globe and Laurel Restaurant.

Our area lost one of the faces that made the destination eatery what it is today.

Strong Storms Blow Through Region

It would become known as the Great Derecho Storm of 2012, but all we knew the night it blew in to our area was it was one of the strongest wind gusts we had ever felt here. The storm hit after dark on the last day of June, and when it left it took power, cell phone service, and peace of mind with it. Forth of July fireworks shows were canceled, boil water advisories were issued, and it was hot outside. Our continuous coverage of the storm’s aftermath was highly viewed.

Diner of TV Fame to Reopen in January

It may be the most famed diner in the Potomac Communities, but it has historically been one of the most unlucky businesses in the region. Now known as County Café, it opened as County Fare and was featured on the popular TV show Restaurant Impossible in 2011. After years of struggling to make a profit, the owner closed up shop. But when news came of a new owner coming to the spot, it got your attention.

Stonebridge Altering Woodbridge Landscape

It’s the town center that sprung up from nowhere. Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center made lots of headlines this year as many stores and restaurants in the new complex at Dale Boulevard and Interstate 95 opened their doors for the first time.

More than just stores, the complex also boasts housing making it a true mixed-use neighborhood.

Cheesecake Factory to Anchor Potomac Mills Renovation

Not to be outdone, the folks across the street from Potomac Town Center at Potomac Mills mall – a retail shopping staple in Woodbridge since 1985 – also announced some changes. Mall officials announced a new outdoor walkway that would be built in front of the mall, and would be anchored by a very well known restaurant.

102812-Sandy-radar Sandy: The Latest

Just as voters were making up their minds as to who they would choose to lead the nation over the next four years, Mother Nature decided she would blow Hurricane Sandy toward the Northeast, putting millions of people on alert.

While the Potomac Communities were spared the brunt of her damage, residents in New York and New Jersey weren’t so lucky. Our continuing coverage of the day kept readers in Prince William and Stafford counties informed.

Word on the Street: What New Years Resolutions are Hardest to Keep?

The New Year is right around the corner and its time to make those annual resolutions. Losing weight, working out, and living a healthier lifestyle are always popular New Years Resolutions for some, but what resolutions do you think are hardest to keep?


“Quit smoking. It’s funny when you see so many people say they’re going to quit smoking and then you see them standing on the back deck smoking cigarettes.”







“Going to the Gym.”







“Giving up sweets”


Wintry Weather Brings I-95 Delays

It is slow going on Interstate 95 this afternoon as the region has been hit by a mix of rain, sleet, snow, and wind.

Traffic is particularly heavy along I-95 south in Woodbridge past Opitz Boulevard through Dumfries at Va. 234 where the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes merge. There are also delays on I-95 in Stafford County on both the northbound and southbound sides of the highway – particularly near Va. 610 in North Stafford and near U.S. 17 near Fredericksburg.

There have been no major crashes reported along the roadway, so the delays appear to be caused by volume.

I-66 in the region is not experiencing similar delays as reports state the roadway is running at speed.

I-81 in western Virginia and Maryland is running slow. Problems persist in the Harrisonburg area in Virginia as traffic is moving slow. In the Hagerstown area of Maryland traffic is crawling along the highway. More snow is expected to fall along this corridors and other areas west of Washington, D.C.

A winter weather advisory has been extended to 7 p.m. for Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fairfax, northern Fauquier County, Arlington, Alexandria, Washington, D.C., and the Maryland suburbs. Temperatures are hovering in the mid 30s as rain and sleet continue to fall in the area.

Connolly Supports Federal Gun Buyback

As his daughter Caitlin and wife Catherine look on, Congressman Gerry Connolly delivers his acceptance speech to a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Premiere in Tyson's Corner. (Submitted)

Congressman Gerry Connolly and 39 others are urging support of a nationwide gun buyback program in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut.

Connolly and 39 others in congress signed their names to a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi asking for their support for a buyback program.

The a press release from Connolly’s office below, supporters of the buyback program said it could take one million guns off of streets and help stimulate the economy:

“Gun buybacks have proven successful in communities across the nation,” Connolly and Deutch said in a “Dear Colleague” to House members. “Adding $200 million to the final compromise on the fiscal cliff could remove as many as 1 million guns from our streets.”

Noting that such programs are supported by law enforcement agencies as a valuable resource for reducing gun violence, the two congressmen said including the gun buyback program in any year-end deal “is a simple, immediate step we can take to assure the public we are committed to taking meaningful action.”

In their letter to the House leaders, Connolly and Deutch said federal financial support to help local communities and states conduct buyback programs could also bolster local economic activity. “Distributing funding to the States to run buyback programs using prepaid debit cards with a three-month expiration date could provide a jolt to local economies that have stagnated in the wake of the recession and concerns over the fiscal cliff.”

At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., 20 children and six adults were shot and killed on Dec. 14 by 20-year-old Adam Lanza who then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.


Stafford Man Killed in Hit and Run

Photo: Mary Davidson

A Stafford man was killed over the Christmas holiday in Fauquier County.

More in a press release from Virginia State Police:

Virginia State Police are searching for the driver responsible for a fatal hit-and-run in Fauquier County Sunday night (Dec. 23, 2012).

State Trooper T.B. Ralls is investigating the incident, which occurred at 6:16 p.m. Sunday on Route 17 less than a mile south of Route 28. A 2004 Scion was traveling south in the right lane of Route 17 when it was a rear-ended by a green, Ford-150 pickup truck. The impact pushed the Scion into a southbound 2010 Honda. Then the Scion and the pickup truck ran off the right side of the road together.

The driver of the pickup truck fled on foot from the scene. State police are still searching for the driver. State police are also trying to locate the owner of the F-150 pickup, Diego Vasquez Mendoza, 32, of Culpeper, Va.

The driver of the Scion, Douglas Rabren, 58, of Stafford, Va., died at the scene. The passenger, Debra Rabren, 59, of Stafford, was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The driver of the Honda was not injured in the crash.

Anyone with information about the crash or Mendoza is asked to please call the Virginia State Police at 540-829-7771.

Wintry Weather Sticking Around Today

9:15 a.m. 

The wintry precipitation is holding longer than forecasters anticipated it would.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Alexandria, Arlington, Washington, D.C. and the Maryland suburbs until 1 p.m.

More snow and sleet is expected to fall throughout the day. And, with the addition of gusty winds, travel could be treacherous, according to the National Weather Service.

Less than of inch of accumulation is expected. Temperatures will hover in the upper 20s and lower 30s today, and wind gusts could reach up to 35 mph.

8:30 a.m.

-Stafford County emergency officials now reporting several accidents along U.S. 17 near Fauquier County

-Richmond Drive in Aquia Harbour closed as a precaution, no crashes reported

-Crash in the 100 block of Harrell Road in Stafford County closed one lane about 8:20 a.m.

-Stafford emergency crews were working a crash at Andrew Chapel and Brooke roads about 7:30 a.m.

7 a.m. 

It’s sleeting and snowing in the area this morning after Christmas.

The wintry precipitation is part of a larger weather system that will bring us a mostly rainy Wednesday.

Here’s your detailed forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today Rain, snow, and sleet before 9am, then rain and sleet between 9am and 10am, then rain after 10am. High near 41. Northeast wind 11 to 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Tonight Rain, mainly before 1am. Patchy fog before 1am. Low around 35. East wind 6 to 16 mph becoming west after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 43. Breezy, with a northwest wind 15 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph.


Word on the Street: What Did You Do to Prepare for the End of the World?

The so-called end of the world came and went without a hitch. We guess the Mayans had better things to do than to worry about calendars written thousands of years after their demise.

So, what did you do to prepare for the end of the world on Friday?


Norma Wood
Dale City

“You can’t predict the end of the world. All you can do is say a prayer and hope for the best.”






Briana Coronado

“What can you do to prepare for something like that?”






Priest Estavan






Brooke Point Marching Band to Perform at Tech-Rutgers Game in Orlando

082711 Brooke Point High School

STAFFORD, Va. – Stafford’s Brooke Point High School Marching Band will make their first ever appearance at a bowl game next week. They’ll be playing during a game featuring one of the Virginia’s collegiate athletic powerhouses.

More in a press release from Stafford County Public Schools:

The Brooke Point Blackhawks Marching Band is scheduled to perform during half-time at the Russell Athletic Bowl Game in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, December 28th. The game, featuring Virginia Tech and Rutgers University, is scheduled to air on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. This is the first appearance in a bowl game for Brooke Point High School’s marching band.

The BPHS Marching Band under the direction of Veronica Sutherland will also perform in the Macy’s Parade at Universal Studios on Thursday, December 27, at 8 p.m.

For parents and community members unable to travel to Florida, a spirit night is being held at Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant in the Stafford Marketplace. Band boosters are hoping to be able to have a live feed from the stadium to view the half-time performance. Contact Veronica Sutherland at 540-658-6080 for further information

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