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City of Manassas is outperforming school systems with similar demographics and serving a single high school

Northern Virginia is home to some of the best public schools systems in the state, and nation. 

For a relatively small community like the City of Manassas, ‘keeping up with the Jones’’ might seem like a daunting task.  But just as Manassas is experiencing a revitalization, so too is the public school system.

In the four years since Superintendent Catherine Magouryrk took the helm, Manassas City schools have undergone significant transformation.  The challenges have been considerable, but she continues to face them head on.  She and the staff have been working harder than ever before. 

And they are getting results, great results.

–Osbourn High School (OHS), the City’s only high school, was recently named a Silver Medal School, ranking it in the top 16% of high schools in Virginia by US News and World Report.

–85% of OHS graduates go on to college.

–George C. Round Elementary School has earned the Virginia Department of Education’s 2016 Board of Education ‘Distinguished Achievement Award’ for advancing student learning and achievement.

–The City’s K-12 STEM curriculum, which includes coding, robotics and maker spaces, has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education and its students are winning competitions across the state.

When compared to school systems with similar demographics and serving a single high school, the City of Manassas is outperforming; specifically in the areas of math and science.

Manassas City Public School system is proud of its accomplishments to-date, and thanks to the significant efforts of Dr. Magouryrk and staff is on a path towards greater success over the next few years.  If you have questions about or are just curious to see first-hand, the significant progress being made in our schools, please visit the City Schools website to schedule a tour or visit with Dr. Magouryrk.

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This post is sponsored by City of Manassas Economic Development.

Standing Out: Why Parents Choose Preschool at the Manassas Park Community Center

When parents of preschool age kids are considering where to send their kids to preschool, the big question is: what separates one preschool program from another?

The staff at the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC), knows it’s a combination of their experience, knowledge, and love of children that makes their program stand out from all the rest in the area.

“Between Ms. Sue – the Preschool Director, and myself, we have over 18 years’ experience teaching at the preschool level,” said Arely Angel, Lead Preschool Teacher for the MPCC Preschool Program. “As a matter of fact, the first class Ms. Sue taught will be graduating from high school in two years,” she added.

“When our preschool students enter kindergarten, they will be ready,” said Ms. Angel. “We have been told from many kindergarten teachers, being ready for kindergarten means much more than knowing their letters and numbers. Our students have been taught the importance of making good decisions,” she added. “Our focus is to help the students become independent learners, which helps provide the foundation for positive learning,” added Ms. Sue.

By providing an in-house curriculum that references the Virginia Foundation Blocks, as well as emphasizing recreation with creative programs and materials that encourage and invite participation; the students at MPCC preschool are taught how to choose, participate, and to adapt to a variety of settings.

The MPCC preschool program is licensed by the State of Virginia, Department of Social Services. In addition, the preschool program has also received a 3 out of 5-star rating from the Virginia Quality Initiative (VQI) Program. The VQI program recognizes preschool providers for the quality of care provided. “When the staff from VQI observed our programs, they were impressed by the positive learning environment we provide here,” added Ms. Sue.

The preschool program is divided into two separate programs; Seniors (4 and 5 years old) and Juniors (3 years old).

“Communication and relationships with our parents and families is essential to make our programs effective,” said Ms. Angel, “We understand that for a child to be successful in school and life it takes collaboration from all those within the child’s community.”
There is an emphasis on a variety of themes throughout the year, that also includes family activities such as a shared harvest meal at Thanksgiving time, a Holiday Party, and a graduation ceremony for our Seniors at the end of the school year.

“We know our kids are already exposed to gadgets and all sorts of technology,” pointed out Ms. Angel, “So we take a back-to-basics approach where the kids are encouraged to play—just play.” She added, “Providing a block of time for kids to play while supervised allows them to make choices, develop social skills, and improve their small and large motor skills.”

Ask any of the preschoolers what their favorite activities are and you will most likely hear it is the play-dough, blocks, dress-up, and making friends.

To say Ms. Sue and Ms. Angel find being preschool teachers rewarding is an understatement. Being a part of the children’s lives on a daily basis is truly a fulfilling experience. When asked what her most rewarding experience was as a preschool teacher, “It was walking into my very first graduation ceremony. I was all prepared with my speech, my slideshow, everything. I felt completely prepared,” Ms. Angel reminisced. “It wasn’t until I was walking into the room when I realized the children were moving onto their next step in their lives and I wouldn’t get to see them every week anymore. It was a big step – I had such a hard time giving the speech that first time. Ms. Sue had to help me.”

Watching the children return to the Community Center year after year even after graduating the preschool program fills Ms. Sue with a sense of joy and accomplishment.

“The kids will come up to me even as teenagers and ask how I’ve been and we share stories of what’s been going on in our lives,” Ms. Sue expressed, “It really emphasizes that we are a family and a community. Even though we’re not related we’re so tight knit that they remember us. To me, that’s truly symbolic of what our program represents.”

Curious to learn more? We recently interviewed Ms. Angel as part of our “Meet Our Staff” series on our blog. Find out more about Ms. Angel and what brought her to the preschool program here.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

Plan on going to the World War II Weekend at Rippon Lodge

Something for everyone from children to history buffs

Admiral Richard Blackburn Black of Rippon Lodge survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

Rippon Lodge is hosting its annual World War II weekend on July 9 and 10 to commemorate the contribution of Admiral Black as well as the contributions and sacrifices that many men and women made during the war. This free, family-friendly event will have something for everyone from children to history buffs.

Portraying both Allied and Axis soldiers, living historians will be on hand to talk about the lives of the soldiers who fought in both the European and Pacific Theatres. Guests will learn about different types of equipment and armaments used during the war.

Historic military vehicles will be on hand for visitors to look at and maybe even sit in. Throughout the weekend, groups will have a variety of presentations s from packing bags to firing demonstrations and more. The National Museum of the Marine Corps will be on hand to tell the vast history of the Corps. This year, first-time participants Honor Flight will be here.

Honor Flight is a non-profit organization dedicated to transporting U.S. military veterans to see the memorials of the respective war they fought in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans.

Additionally, children and adults may try their hands at making V-J Day parachutes or Victory Crowns. A scavenger hunt will be taking place all weekend.

On Saturday, July 9, local World War II authors will be on site with copies of their books and be giving talks on Rippon Lodge’s front porch. The day will kick off with Kathleen Kinsolving at 12:30 talking about her book Dogs of War. Patricia Meder will speak about her book The True Story of Catch-22 at 1 p.m.

At 1:30 p.m., Stephen M. Rusiecki will talk about his books: The Key to the Bulge and In Final Defense of the Reich. Carsten Fries will speak at 2 p.m. about his book Riding into the Twlight: The German Army’s Last

Cavalrymen, 1920-1945. The final speaker of the day will be Tom Hone, on his book The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the U.S. Navy’s Greatest Victory.

Our WWII weekend is also the kickoff for a set of World War II events that Rippon Lodge will be hosting as part of commemorating Pearl Harbor’s 75th Anniversary this year. Rippon Lodge will host a World War II themed Canteen Dance on September 10, and then during the holiday season, there will be a special World War II exhibit.

For more information about World War II Weekend at Rippon Lodge, please call 703-499- 9812. You can also email us at historicpreservation@pwcgov.org.

Manassas has the best fireworks display in Northern Virginia. Believe it.

Celebrate America this Independence Day in historic downtown Manassas.

Family-fun surrounds the train depot, Manassas Museum, and Harris Pavilion with great views of the best fireworks display in Northern Virginia! Bring out blankets and lawn chairs to claim your spot and enjoy all of the entertainment and fun going on. The fireworks show will start at 9:15 pm but there will be plenty of activities and contests before.

Unique bikes parade

The fun starts at 3 p.m. with kid’s rides in the water tower parking lot – Lot B – as well as a bicycle decorating contest in the Harris Pavilion. Children will ride in a parade around the pavilion showing off their unique bikes and prizes will be awarded for the most creative, most patriotic, and best overall bikes.

Apple pie contest

Next up is the apple pie baking contest at 4 p.m. Residents, visitors, and more are encouraged to show off their baking skill with delicious homemade apple pies. The pies will be judged by a group of city staff and residents looking for the City’s best apple pie.

Watermelon eating contest

Last in line for contests is the watermelon eating contest at 5 p.m. in the Harris Pavilion. What better way to cool down in the summer than a fresh piece of watermelon? The contest will be broken up into two age groups – 17 & under and 18 & older – as contestants show off how fast they can eat their watermelon. The children’s age group will have to finish a quarter of a watermelon while the adult group will have to eat an entire half.

Applications for all three contests can be found on www.visitmanassas.org and are due back no later than Friday, July 1.

Weddings and celebrations are perfect for the Manassas Park Community Center

If you’re planning a big function like a wedding celebration outside, you’ll worry about the possibility of rain.

And if you are planning during the summer months, it will be hot and humid. Everyone will be sweaty, and maybe even a little cranky because of, you know, the whole hot and sweaty thing. It sure doesn’t seem like the ideal setting for a wedding – or any celebration.

However, the beautifully appointed banquet room at the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC) would be the ideal setting for your celebration. The banquet room at the MPCC offers the kind of versatility that makes it possible for you and for your guests to have a successful and memorable occasion.

And you won’t have to worry about the weather! Or the heat, or the humidity!

There are two wedding packages at the MPCC.

Deluxe Package

The first package, called the Deluxe Package includes the full banquet hall for 8 hours, with seating up to 200 guests, the catering kitchen, a pre-function area where guests can have a happy hour, a 12’ x 12’ dance floor for $2,373 for residents and $3,045 for non-residents. Childcare is available for $250 for 30 children.

“This includes a $500 fully refundable deposit for the full banquet hall or a $250 deposit for the half banquet hall,” said Amelia Powell, Customer Service Supervisor. “Our indoor spaces are on a first come, first serve basis, “she said, “Our only rule is that you need to have the event paid in full 30 days prior to the event date.” She added people can pay monthly, weekly, or pay in a lump sum.

Manassas park Community Center

Manassas park Community Center

Gold Package

The second package is called the Gold Package which includes half the banquet hall for 7 hours, seating for 115 guests, and the catering kitchen for $1,554 for residents and $2,036 for non-residents.

The catering kitchen is available for use with the Banquet hall facilities. The roomy 1,082 square foot kitchen includes a six burner gas range, convection ovens, warming ovens, ice machines, and lots of stainless steel tables for prepping the food. “There is also a loading dock outside the kitchen for loading and unloading. It really makes it easier to unload all the food items right into the kitchen,” added Ms. Powell.

“We have a Preferred Vendor List, so if there is a service you need, we can provide a contact for you,” Powell said. She pointed out that the facility also provides ample parking with a private entrance for you and your guests.

More intimate gatherings

Yes, the big events can be celebrated at the MPCC, but what about other occasions that also need celebrating—like a sweet sixteen party or the celebration of the end of a sports season?

The MPCC also has multi-purpose rooms which are 1,082 feet of air conditioned space and provides seating for 35 people. This is the perfect size for a more intimate gathering and also includes a shared kitchenette space.

Whether you’re having a large wedding or a small intimate affair, you can host it at the MPCC. Give Amelia Powell a call at 703-335-8872. She will be happy to help you plan that one-of-a-kind wedding at the MPCC.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. Rental space is also availability for your event. For more information visit us at ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com, or call at 703-335.-8872.

Training the complete athlete is a priority at Competitive Edge

At Competitive Edge in Woodbridge, Virginia, the team of expert trainers knows how important it is to condition the complete athlete, not just the physical side. This means training the psychological side, as well as training conditioning to truly strengthen athletic performance.

The physical side of training

When most people think of sports training, this is the part they think about. Austin Brown is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Competitive Edge. He is a former athlete in the NFL and the Arena Football League. “When you have trainers who have been certified, it helps out a lot more. That’s what we provide at Competitive Edge,” Brown says.

He also says having a good trainer to student ratio helps ensure that students are getting the individual attention they need while still working in a collaborative environment. Students are trained in groups of about six to eight children. They’re grouped by grade level, with grades five through seven in one session and grades eight through 12 in another. This way kids are learning the proper techniques and are able to implement them throughout building their skills.

At Competitive Edge the physical part of training is broken down on a weekly basis. Modules of training include speed, power and strength, which are combined with agility in an hour-long session. The students do warmups for speed and agility, during which they enter a high neural phase. This warmup wakes up the neural system through exercises like speed ladder or quick agility over hurdles.

The psychological side of training

The lesser-known, but equally important, aspect of training is psychological training. This training brings the right mentality to children, teaching them work ethic and how to push themselves.

Brown says athletes who train at Competitive Edge can expect to learn through visual and verbal cues. The goal is for kids training to hear and see the cues and repeat the actions they’ve learned. Trainers emphasize doing things correctly, being safe and working hard.

In order to ensure proper form, trainers demonstrate all exercises before students perform them. New students are added each day at Competitive Edge, so they have a refresher course of cues every day. More experienced students tend to step up as leaders and help guide the new students. “It’s really interesting to watch,” Brown says.

Competitive Edge likes to bring a sense of competition to their training sessions. “Our kids push themselves to a new level during our sessions,” Brown says. But they also talk about being good people, not just being good athletes.

Brown meets with parents, creates a profile for each athlete and does baseline tests. Then they measure against those baseline tests every few weeks to rate progress. “It’s a joy to watch as a former athlete…seeing their confidence being built…it’s nice to see,” says Brown.

“We encourage development of the athlete in more realms than playing different sports. We encourage kids to gain an edge on the competition. If you come in and do two months of work with us, we guarantee you will be a better athlete.”

Why one-sided coaching doesn’t help student athletes

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Chad Westgate, Head Coordinator of Competitive Edge manages coaches on the baseball and conditioning side of the business. He coaches the complete athlete by coaching the sport itself and training conditioning as well.

Westgate has lots of experience coaching children. In addition to coaching at Competitive Edge, he coaches little league, t-ball and a travel league. He sees a lot of children who come in without ever training who need to learn stretching and conditioning. He says they come in “just throwing the ball around without doing conditioning. It’s important that as an athlete you take all the steps.”

Conditioning for baseball means stretching, running, pushups, mountain climbers and other exercises that build strength and endurance. Conditioning exercises are fast-paced. Older kids also participate in weight training.

Westgate knows how to make conditioning fun and interesting for children. Many exercises he incorporates into games, such as a game the children fondly refer to as “chicken,” during which coaches throw the ball and kids run back and forth between them. Activities can be tailored to the kids’ ages and what type of conditioning they need that day.

If kids don’t condition and they get out in the field, they become easily fatigued and it’s hard for them to hit harder or throw farther, Westgate says. “Then they lose the fundamentals and cause injury. You need strong legs for baseball. If you’re conditioning right, then your mechanics are right.”

For more information on Competitive Edge and their approach to training, visit www.competitiveedgeva.com.

Donations to Habitat for Humanity Summer Drive are tax deductible

Residents and businesses in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park can support the store that helps build homes by donating to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Manassas during the Summer Drive for Donations! IMG_2457 With free and convenient pick-up service, you can easily donate new and gently used household items, appliances, building materials, furniture, lighting fixtures and cabinets. IMG_2452Donated items will then be available for purchase at a fraction of the retail price at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Manassas, which is open to the general public. IMG_2444Revenue generated from sales at the Habitat ReStore are used to help build, rehab and repair Habitat for Humanity homes in partnership with low-income families. IMG_2435The Habitat for Humanity ReStore offers free pick-up service on Mondays – Saturdays. Donors who are able to drop off their materials are encouraged to do so Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The ReStore is located at 10159 Hastings Drive, Manassas (at the corner of Hastings Drive and Dumfries Road). IMG_2458“Every item donated to the Habitat ReStore helps to improve the lives of families in need of better shelter,” said Sam Druetzler, Operations Director at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Manassas. “This year, proceeds from our Habitat ReStore helped rehab homes in Manassas and Woodbridge.” IMG_2434The Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Manassas relies heavily on the generosity of donors, and all donations made through the Summer Drive for Donations event are tax deductible. IMG_2433 For information about how to schedule a donation drop-off or pick-up, call the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Manassas donation line at 703-369-6145 or visit www.habitatpwc.org/restore. IMG_2432 Shop for new treasures Tuesday – Friday, 9 – 6, and Saturday, 9 – 5. IMG_2430 To see other fun items throughout the week, visit our Facebook pages: HabitatReStore.Manassas and HabitatPrinceWilliam! IMG_2431

About Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used building materials, appliances, furniture and home accessories at a fraction of the retail price. Last year alone, Habitat ReStores raised more than $100 million for homebuilding while diverting more than 128,000 tons of reusable materials from landfills. With more than 920 stores in five countries, proceeds generated by Habitat ReStores are used to help build homes and communities locally and around the world.

Celebrate dad at the 12th Annual Manassas Wine & Jazz Fest

The 12th Annual Manassas Wine & Jazz Festival is back on Sunday, June 19 from 12-7  p.m. on the Manassas Museum Lawn.

Celebrate Dad this Father’s Day at this day-long event with plenty for all to enjoy. Featuring Virginia farm wineries and two local breweries, the event is a great kickoff to summer as people plan their weekend getaways.

Manassas’ Wine & Jazz Festival has annually been held on Father’s Day and has expanded from the Harris Pavilion to the Museum Lawn. It’s a great event for everyone! Families can come to enjoy the day with great live jazz performances and high-end novelty crafters. The entertainment stage will host the Robert Jospe Express, the Dave Wilson Quartet and back again this year is headline jazz performer Marcus Johnson.

“Marcus Johnson has become a staple in this festival. Year after year people come strictly to see him perform and then get to experience all that the festival has to offer,” said HMI’s Executive Director Debbie Haight.

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs and find a spot on the front of the museum lawn at the stage to relax and enjoy the jazz music. After you’ve finished tasting all of the wines, attendees can purchase their favorite bottle and enjoy it at the festival or have it collected to pick up at the end of the day.

This year, the VIP ticket option has been upgraded significantly with a limited number of available tickets. Not only will VIP ticket holders get to enter an hour early at 11am, they will also receive a $10 gift card to the shops and restaurants in historic downtown Manassas, and complimentary water. Attendees who purchase a VIP ticket will receive 6 exclusive wine and food pairings on each hour in a secluded VIP tent. They will receive a description from each winery along with the restaurant or food vendor who is pairing with their wines. The VIP experience is sure to add additional excitement to an already fun-filled day.

Tickets for the festival are on sale via MissionTix and can be found at www.visitmanassas.org. Tickets will be on sale the day of the event but prices will go up. For more information on all of the events going on in historic downtown Manassas, go to www.visitmanassas.org

Meet our personal trainers at Manassas Park Community Center

Summer is here, and you know what that means, it’s time to get your body into summer shape so you look absolutely fabulous in your summer clothes!

Did you know the Manassas Park Community Center has a staff of excellent, qualified and hard-working fitness trainers? Below we’re featuring bios of two of our trainers who can help you obtain and maintain your best summer body ever!

Christina Gallagher is a Personal Fitness Trainer at the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC). “I can honestly say all of my work out experience, combined with my love of being healthy, is the key to helping area patrons not only work out correctly but to change their habits and to eat healthy, so they can attain their fitness and health goals.”

“I guess you could say my workout motto is: Do what you like then you will do it–no excuses! Together we will devise a workout plan, and usually, I am right next to you performing the exact same exercises. If you want to work with a small group, that is fine too. I love to work out with my clients because I can constantly monitor their form — no bad habits here!”

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MORE: Two main reasons to workout with a trainer at Manassas Park Community Center

Alan Harshaw, is also a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor at the Community Center.

“What can you expect with me as your trainer? After you complete the initial assessment, I will sit down with you to review the big three: strength training, nutrition, and cardio. We will devise a plan where you will incorporate these three things into your daily routine. It won’t take long for you to see results. Those results are important, but it is equally important that you continue to use what we discuss so that you will always maintain a healthy body and a healthy attitude.”

“As a personal trainer, my job will be to train the entire body. After that, we will focus on your problem areas. It is my job to motivate you – and it is your job to perform the work. Remember, anyone can be ordinary, but I will help you become extraordinary. You can reach any goal you desire, and I will be there to motivate you!”

Come see Alan and Christina as well as all of our Personal Trainers at the MPCC, and in no time, you will be singing their praises—and looking good too!

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

This promoted post is written by Manassas Park Community Center.

Dumfries is accepting youth interns for summer program

The Town of Dumfries Community Services Department has long committed to providing services and programs for all of its citizens.

Amongst those programs is the Summer Youth Internship Program that provides local students between the ages of 15-18 with the opportunity to apply for the six-week paid internship in which they will gain firsthand experience in participating in a local government setting.

During the six-week period, students will learn about many of the Towns responsibilities through hands-on activities and training in departments such as Public Works, Community Services, Public Safety, and Town Administration including the Town Manager, Town Clerk, Town Attorney, and the Town Council. Activities past interns have participated in included a police ride-along, accompanying the Town Attorney to court, planning and executing Town events, and working with the Public Works and Zoning departments to address issues throughout the Town.

A new aspect of the Internship program that Director Brittany Heine is excited about it the addition of a mentoring aspect to the program.

“This year the Town will be taking on seven interns. Each intern will be assigned a mentor who is on Town Staff. They will set up times to meet and discuss things such as what they are learning and how they feel it impacts them as members of the local community. It also provides a platform to discuss future education and career goals that the students may have and allows for staff to offer guidance or suggestions” stated Heine.

More information about the 2016 Summer Youth Internship Program, as well as the application, is available on the Town of Dumfries website and can also be picked up from the front desk of Town Hall which is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The deadline for application materials has been extended to Wednesday, June 22nd at 5:00 PM. Completed Applications can be dropped off at Town Hall or they can be mailed to Town of Dumfries, ATTN: Summer Internship Program, 17755 Main Street, Dumfries, VA 22026.

Any questions about the Summer Internship Program can be directed to the Director of Community Services, at bheine@dumfriesva.gov or by calling (703) 221-3400.

Here’s the application form.  

 

Get your tickets now for the Duck Splash Race!

The days for purchasing your Duck Splash Race tickets online will soon be coming to a close.  Get your tickets now!

On Saturday, June 18, at 12:00 noon, Occoquan will once again be the site of the annual Duck Splash race, the net proceeds of which will benefit the Patriots for Disabled Divers and the Occoquan, Woodbridge & Neabsco (O.W.N.) Optimist Club.

Watch a thousand numbered rubber ducks drop from a bridge and race along the water. Tickets to “adopt” a duck are $5.  Prizes are awarded for 1st through 10th place, and range from $500 to $20.  You do not need to be present to win.  

To purchase tickets online go to the site of the Occoquan, Woodbridge & Neabsco Optimist Club. You will also be able to purchase tickets and in town on the day of the event, but the opportunity to purchase tickets online is drawing to a close.  

Get your tickets now!

This post is sponsored by Whitlock Wealth Management.

Fellowship is always a key ingredient at Georgetown Village clean up

On Saturday, June 4, and for the third year, Habitat for Humanity Prince William County partnered with the Georgetown Village

community for their annual cleanup day. IMG_2317

Georgetown Village is located off Route 1 in Woodbridge with 267 townhomes. The homeowner’s association provides dumpsters for the day so that residents can rid their yards and homes of unwanted items. Habitat for Humanity leads volunteers in projects that improve the public areas of the neighborhood. IMG_2344

One of the exciting things about the cleanup day is the level of youth participation in the event. Habitat for Humanity’s staff has had the pleasure of watching many of the youth volunteers grow up as several have participated for all three years. IMG_2318

In addition to members of the community who came out to pick up trash and paint curbs and speed bumps, employees from Wells Fargo Bank also volunteered for the day. IMG_2338

As with all Habitat for Humanity projects, there’s an opportunity to learn new skills…or to share your knowledge with someone. Fellowship is always a key ingredient. IMG_2326 In total, 30 volunteers brightened the community and improved the quality of life for all residents. Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is grateful to them all and to the community leaders in Georgetown Village who care so much about their neighborhood, Heidi O’Hare, HOA President, and property managers with CMS Management Services, Korie McGoldrick and Paula Miller. Volunteer Team Leaders for the day included David Gross, Tesfaye Abuye and Roberta McEachern. And much appreciation is given to the Dumfries Dunkin Donuts who provided fuel for the day with a wonderful donation of donuts, coffee and hot chocolate.

About Habitat for Humanity Prince William County

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is a nonprofit, locally operated affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Since 1994 Habitat for Humanity Prince William County has partnered with families, businesses and volunteers to make safe, affordable and decent homeownership a reality in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Habitat for Humanity Prince William County has completed 180 home ownership, home repair and community development projects including building new homes, rehabbing existing ones, major and minor home repairs and cleanups in neighborhood and public spaces. For more information, visit habitatpwc.org. volunteer-button donate-button

What’s the secret to Bottle Stop Wine Bar’s success in Occoquan?

My kids have always been entrepreneurs-in-training.

Case in point: one sunny spring day in 2007, my daughters decided to set up a lemonade stand in the front yard. Well, after about an hour, my youngest daughter, Olivia, came running into the house screaming at the top of her lungs in that ridiculously high pitch that only a 6-year-old can make.

“Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaaaddy!” she yelled. “I NEED COFFEE NOW!!!!” For a brief moment I became concerned that my daughter was taking this work-thing a bit too seriously and already had the coffee-break jitters.

Then I noticed the dollar bill in her hand.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Nearly breathless, Olivia explained, “This man came by and ordered coffee and paid me a dollar.”

“Olivia, you have a lemonade stand,” I reasoned (big mistake – never try to reason with a six year old).

Olivia put her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes at her slow-to-catch-on dad, “But DADDY, coffee is what he WANTED!”

We hurriedly made the nice man a cup of coffee, and my daughters sold a few glasses of lemonade that day.

The following Saturday morning my kids decided to ditch the lemonade and set up a coffee and donut stand instead. It worked! They made roughly $150 which they donated to a local homeless shelter.

Olivia learned a valuable business lesson – listen and learn from your customers if you want to grow.

Emil and Kim Wigode, owners of Bottle Stop Wine Bar in Occoquan

Kim and Emil Wigode, owners of Bottle Stop Wine Bar in Occoquan have taken this same approach to listening and learning to their customers over the past five years. It has been amazing to watch them make incremental improvements to their business fueled by input from their customer base.

Originally called Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe, the Wigodes sold wine made in Virginia from a small storefront. Business was good, but their growing customer base asked them to expand their selection to include non-Virginia wines.

They did, and business continued to grow so much that they needed to move into a larger space… and they haven’t stopped listening and learning from their customers since then.

The larger space allowed them to build a small commercial kitchen and offer wines by the glass. The Wine Bar concept led to demand from customers for more on-site seating, and additional food options to pair with their wine had them looking to grow further.

They expanded a second time while reducing their retail area to allow guests to enjoy creative small-plate dishes to pair with their wine (their Devilish Duo deviled eggs are amazing).

The wine by the glass program was such a hit that they expanded to offer craft beer, craft whiskey, and scotch as well.

Their newest addition is in answer to customers who would love a glass of a higher-end wine without having to purchase the whole bottle. Their state-of-the-art Wine Preservation System allows bottled wine to be kept fresh so customers may enjoy an even larger selection of wines by-the-glass.

From great business owners like Kim and Emil to budding entrepreneurs like my daughter Olivia, listening and learning to what customers want is a vital key to success for no matter what your business size.

Know a local business that does a great job listening and learning from their customers? Introduce us and I’d love to feature a story about them!

“Business Beat” is a sponsored column written by One Degree Capital CEO and President Rod Loges. His column examines ideas and best practices that help local businesses succeed.

Celebrate the 4th of July with the City of Manassas Park

There are few things that go together better than celebrating July 4th and watching the fireworks display at the Signal Hill Park.

The City of Manassas Park truly offers one of the best fireworks displays in the area.

You know what they say, the early bird gets the worm and in this case, the early bird gets the best seat for viewing the amazing fireworks show! So plan to arrive early, and take the shuttle so you don’t have to worry about parking.

Handicapped only parking will be available on-site at the Signal Bay Water Park for just $5.00 per spot. The handicapped only parking lot will be open after 5 p.m. There is also limited general parking across the street from the entrance to Signal Hill Park. It only costs $5 per spot, and will be available after 5 p.m.

Once the parking area across the street is full, there will be free shuttle buses from City Hall and from VRE directly to Signal Bay Water Park. Those shuttles will begin at 6 p.m.

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To ensure that this popular event is safe for the whole the family, MPCC staff will be conducting bag checks as you arrive. Alcohol, glass containers, and outside fireworks (including sparklers) are not permitted inside the park – so please leave those items at home!

The fireworks display begins as soon as it gets dark, so that the dark sky can be the backdrop to the stunning, colorful and sometimes loud, fireworks display. Pack a picnic basket, bring a blanket, lawn chairs, and prepare to view the best July 4th fireworks celebration at the Signal Hill Park!

Signal Hill Park is located at 9300 Signal View Drive in Manassas Park, VA. Maintained by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation the park features one softball field, four multi-use fields, Signal Hill Pavilion, a playground, a tennis court, basketball courts, walking paths, and pond area.

Signal Hill Park is also home to Signal Bay Water Park a 27,000 sqft aquatic facility featuring a zero depth entry leisure pool with water cannons, slides, and lazy river. For more information regarding  Signal Hill Park or Signal Bay Water Park please visit ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

This promoted post was written by Maria Bosack for the Manassas Park Community Center. 

It’s time to start summer reading, exploring at your Prince William Public Library

Don’t miss free special events all summer, win prizes! 

Come to your nearest Prince William Public Library and begin your Summer Reading exploration. The adventure kicks off for all ages on June 20 and runs for nine weeks through August 20. Each week has a different theme to inspire your trip around the world. Moreover, starting June 1, kids and teens can register at any library branch or by visiting www.pwcgov.org/summerreading.

Kids Explore Summer Reading Program

Come to any library beginning June 20 to pick up your Passport for kids (infants through students entering 5th grade). Then come in once a week to tell us how you achieved your reading goal and we’ll stamp your Passport.

After five stamps, kids receive a brand-new book to keep! Each stamp will also enter kids into a grand prize drawing of an Asus Chromebook Flip, so be sure to come in for all nine weeks of summer reading.

Teens Explore Summer Reading Program

Once again, starting June 20, teens (entering 6th through 12th grades) will receive a Passcard and come in once a week to tell us how you achieved your reading goal to get a stamp. Each stamp is an entry into two grand-prize drawings per branch, including a Kindle Fire and amazing gift prizes. You can also enter your book reviews on our Summer Reading website for additional drawing entries.

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Adults Explore Summer Reading Program

And why should kids and teens have all the fun? This year we’re introducing Summer Reading for adults. Pick up a Ticket Sheet at any branch beginning June 20, then submit a ticket to your local library weekly for a chance to win a Target gift card!

Don’t miss out on spectacular, free special events all summer—magic shows, beatboxing, storytelling, music, arts and crafts, puppets, and more for all ages. Pick up a copy of Explore magazine at any library or visit our online calendar of events at www.pwcgov.org/library/events.

Make sure to get involved with us this summer and check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Tag us in your photos with #PWPLSsummer and we might repost!

Thank you to our sponsors: Bookworm Central, Friends of the Library, Prince William Library Foundation, Belvoir Federal Credit Union, Giant Foods, Micron, Apple Federal Credit Union.

This promoted post was written by the Prince Wiliam County Public Library System.

Talented workforce helps IFAS expand in Prince William

Never let a door close behind you. Never be afraid to call on an old co-worker or boss. And never underestimate the power of a relationship.

“If a person is not the right person you’re looking for, that person might just be the one to help you make the connection to the right person,” said Tabatha Turman, president and CEO of Integrated Finance & Accounting Solutions, LLC (IFAS) in Prince William County.

More than just sound networking advice, that is how Turman grew a one-woman consulting business that began in her home into a firm of more than 80 employees, serving as the Prime Contractor for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in project management, program development, budget execution and cost analysis.

As a subcontractor, today IFAS provides financial improvement and audit readiness assistance services for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and IFAS serves as Prime Contractor to the Financial Management Division (FMD) Accounting Branch.

IFAS is located in Class-A office space along Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.
IFAS provides financial improvement and audit readiness assistance services for the Defense Logistics Agency.
Tabatha Turman grew a one-woman consulting business that began in her home into a firm of more than 80 employees.

As Turman transitioned out of active duty service in the Army nine years ago, she relied on relationships she had built there. Now, as her company prepares for its 10-year anniversary, the Army remains its oldest client.

“We get to know our clients on a personal and professional level,” said Turman. “When we have someone assigned to a customer, we get to know their families, and who they are…it’s not only about business.”

Turman’s first office was a small space at Tacketts Mill in Lake Ridge, something the Federal Government told her she needed if she wanted to obtain the necessary security clearances to win contracting work. Today she’s located in Class-A office space along Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.

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The company recently expanded its offices to include more conference room space for client meetings and team-building sessions, and more workspaces for project managers. Turman kept her business in Prince William despite other business owners who told her she wouldn’t be able to find a quality workforce there.

“I have very talented people who have been with me for eight of the nine years I’ve been in business. They drive from Bristow, Gainesville, from other parts of the surrounding area,” said Turman. “Their job is part of their quality of life. My employees enjoy the fact that they can go to work for a firm making the same, or more money and not have to sit three or four hours in commuter traffic every day.”

Last year, IFAS received an award from the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Chief Information Officer for their support in financial and administrative areas. In 2014, Turman was selected as a Brava! winner for SmartCEO’s Brava! Awards program. The Brava! Awards celebrated the distinguished achievements of 32 of Greater Washington’s top women business leaders. The class collectively generated more than $254.6 million in annual revenue and employed over 1,111 individuals.

But Turman’s business success was not without challenges. Like many small businesses, Turman faced problems accessing the capital necessary to grow. They resolved their financial woes by developing relationships with bankers who understood the industry. “I heard your three biggest friends in business are your banker, accountant and attorney,” Turman said. Bankers are willing to work with IFAS because “They’ve been with me on the ride,” Turman said.

Turman in the early days remained focused on her vision to grow her company and then relied on her network of relationships to make it happen. She recounted that someone once told her, “Slow down to go fast…align your team around a common purpose. Create the vision so everyone moves in the right direction no matter what their role is in the organization.”

In addition to the power of relationships, Turman attributes some of her success to staying focused and time management skills. She has fine-tuned “trying to master a healthy balance between professional, personal and family life.”

IFAS continues to support contracts in areas outside the Washington, D.C. region, to include Colorado, San Diego, and Tampa, Fla. She aims to grow her company by winning work in more areas in the U.S.

For more information on IFAS-LLC, visit www.ifas-llc.com.

This promoted post is written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Prince William County Department of Economic Development to showcase business in the region.

History Summer Camps: ‘So You Want to be A Civil War Soldier’

Prince William County Historic Preservation Division offers summer learning and fun in 2016

As the end of the Prince William County school year fast approaches, the Historic Preservation Division is gearing up for Summer Camps at Ben Lomond Historic Site and Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre.

In addition to the popular “Civil War Camp” and “Civil War Advanced Camp,” four new camps are being offered this year. All historic camps can be found in the Summer 2016 Leisure Magazine and registration can be completed online by going to pwcparks.org or by calling 703-792-8320.

The 2016 season kicks off with the “Virginia Heritage Camp” the week of June 20th at Brentsville Courthouse. This all-day camp is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and covers a broad range of Virginia history from Native American life through the 20th Century. Participants will experience life in Virginia through history as they participate in a number of hands-on activities and crafts such as candle dipping and churning butter. The life of a soldier will be explored from Colonial times through the Civil War as campers drill with soldiers and prepare campaign rations over a fire. The cost of this camp is $250.00 per participant for the week. Campers will need to pack two snacks and lunch daily.

“Civil War Basic Camp” will be held at Brentsville Courthouse from July 18th through the 22nd. This camp is conducted from 9 a.m. noon. and is geared toward children aged 8 to 12. Children participate in activities designed to develop a better understanding of soldier life during the American Civil War. Activities include enlisting in Virginia’s Army, life in camp, Infantry drill, “Did Civil War Soldiers really eat that stuff?”, Civil War Medicine, and a field trip to Manassas Battlefield Park. The cost is $130 per person.

“On the Home Front” is to be held at Brentsville Courthouse the week of July 25th from 9a.m. to noon. From 1861 to 1865, our nation was at war with itself. Many men were away fighting while civilian populations tried to maintain as much normalcy as possible. This camp will give both girls and boys aged 8 to 12 a unique opportunity to participate in many of the activities that civilians would have done on a day to day basis. Activities include 19th Century fishing, early games, kite building and flying weather permitting, needle work, a day on the farm, fashions, and a Friday picnic on the grounds. The cost is $150 per person.

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“Civil War Advanced Camp,” at Brentsville Courthouse the week of August 8 from 9 a.m. to noon picks up where the Basic Camp left off. Children will participate in activities built on the fundamentals learned during the Basic Camp. Participants will drill their peers, learn artillery drill, explore officer and noncommissioned officer responsibilities, spend time with General R.E. Lee and take a field trip to Manassas National Battlefield Park. Participants who wish to take this camp should strongly consider taking the Civil War Basic Camp first. The camp is opened to participants aged 8 to 13. The cost per camper is $150.

“History Explorer Camp” will be held at Ben Lomond August 15 through the 19 for children aged 8 to 12. This is an all day camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will travel to a different county historic site each day and learn local history through a series of hands on activities. Monday is Rippon Lodge, Tuesday Barnes House and Lucasville School, Wednesday, Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, Thursday, Ben Lomond Historic Site, and Friday, Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park. The cost per person for this day-long camp is $300. Campers will need to pack two snacks and lunch daily.

“So You Want to be A Civil War Soldier Camp” is designed to give participants an opportunity to use the skill learned during the Civil War Basic and Advanced Camp. This is an overnight camp for young folks aged 13 to 16 and a parent. The camp is to be held August 19 through the 21 at Brentsville Courthouse. Participants will enlist, learn how to set a camp, drill, set pickets, prepare meals using issued rations, go through camp inspections and operate camp like a soldier of 1861-1865 would have. Campers will report for enlistment at 4 p.m. on Friday, August 19 and will be released at noon on Sunday, August 21. The cost of this camp is $300 per parent and child. Additional children will be charged $100 extra.

Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is located at 12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, Virginia 20136 and Ben Lomond Historic Site is located at 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas, Virginia 20109. For additional information on the camps contact David M. Born, Historic Programs Coordinator at 703.792.5618 or online at dborn@pwcgov.org . All camps require registration and can be achieved by calling 703-792.8320, or online at pwcparks.org.

MyLink teen summer bus pass helps teens and parents

  • Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission
  • Address: 14700 Potomac Mills Road
  • Phone: (703) 730-6664
  • Website: http://www.prtctransit.org/

Teens get unlimited local rides plus discounts for regional travel with MyLink teen summer bus pass

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) is expanding its teen summer bus pass program in 2016, enabling teens to not only travel locally, but to also get discounted fares when traveling to nearby Metro stations and Washington, D.C.

PRTC is the public transportation provider in the Prince William County area. With a MyLink teen summer bus pass, teens (ages 13-19) can get unlimited local bus rides for three months for one low price. The pass is accepted between June 6 and September 3, 2016.

“I am thankful that you all have this program,” one MyLink teen wrote to PRTC in September 2015.

“It’s pretty awesome since I can’t drive right now. It gives me more freedom and This year, the MyLink pass will be loaded onto a SmarTrip card – the rechargeable fare card that is used by nearly all transportation agencies in the Washington metropolitan area. When a SmarTrip card is tapped to the PRTC farebox, the farebox will recognize the MyLink pass for local travel and will not charge a fare. When traveling outside the local area, riders will need to have additional money loaded onto the SmarTrip card to pay the difference between the local and commuter bus fares.

“With MyLink, teens who can’t drive or don’t have access to a vehicle don’t have to ask their parents and friends for rides. MyLink enables teens save money and have a safe, reliable ride to get to summer jobs, shopping centers, recreation centers, libraries and lots of other places they want to go,” said PRTC Interim Executive Director Eric Marx.

The MyLink pass costs $30 if the teen already has a SmarTrip card, otherwise there is an additional $2 fee to purchase the card. PRTC’s one-way local fare is currently $1.40; it will increase to $1.50 in July. At that rate, a teen who takes more than 10 local round-trips over the summer will save money with a MyLink pass.

All PRTC buses run Monday through Friday, and some routes offer Saturday service. Local OmniLink routes serve Dale City, Dumfries, Manassas, Manassas Park, the Route 1 Corridor, and Woodbridge/Lake Ridge. There is also Cross County Connector bus service connecting eastern Prince William with the Manassas area.

Routes traveling outside the region include Metro Direct buses serving the Franconia-Springfield and Tysons Corner Metro stations, as well as OmniRide commuter buses to Washington, D.C., the Pentagon, Arlington, and points in Northern Virginia including Tysons Corner and the newest destination – the Mark Center.

For more information about MyLink or any of PRTC’s transportation services, contact Customer Service at (703) 730-6664 or visit PRTCtransit.org.

Homeowner closes on Habitat for Humanity home in Manassas

A year ago, the Board of Directors voted to approve Armando Vargas as Habitat for Humanity’s fifteenth homeowner. And on Friday, May 27, he settled on his property on Bragg Lane in Manassas.

Sixty volunteers worked with Armando and Construction Team Leader, John Blake, to rehab the home over the course of five months, putting in nearly 1,400 hours of labor. Armando worked well over the required 250 hours that he needed for “sweat equity.” Not stopping there, and even after closing on his own home on Friday, Armando has volunteered at the latest Habitat for Humanity worksite, the rehab of a home in Woodbridge with family partners Wudasie Retta and Tesfaye Abuye.

While Armando has been a U.S. citizen for fifteen years, his wife, Maria Dolores, and their son, Fabrizio, are Mexican citizens. In just two days, as part of the Visa process, Maria Dolores and Fabrizio will complete a formal interview at the U.S. Consulate. Soon, they will join Armando in the home he has worked so hard to purchase for them! volunteer-button donate-button Family-Story-button

Make memories with your family at the Father Daughter Dance

There are so many ways to create lasting memories for everyone in your family, but here’s one that focuses on Dad and it is perfect–since Father’s Day is right around the corner!

It is the Father Daughter Dance at the Manassas Park Community Center (MPCC) on Friday, June 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. An event like this is a great way to start a tradition in your family; similar to how it began in mine. You see, once upon a time, my husband and daughters signed up for the Father Daughter Dance.

Each daughter wore her favorite dress and took turns dancing with their dad while their brother and I stood to the side and took lots of photos. My younger daughter balanced her tiny feet on her dad’s shoes and swayed from side to side. Meanwhile, her older sister led the way by dancing circles around her dad. Today, both of my girls often reminisce about what fun they had at their special dance with their dad.

The Father Daughter Dance is especially for young ladies, school ages kindergarten through fifth grade with their fathers or their favorite male guardian which could be an uncle, brother, or godfather. All you need to do is to pre-register at the Community Center (MPCC).

The cost is $15 for residents and $20 for non-residents. While you are able to pay at the door, it is strongly encouraged that you pay when pre-registering.

Then set aside this time for some dancing!

An event like this is a great way to start a tradition in your family
An event like this is a great way to start a tradition in your family
An event like this is a great way to start a tradition in your family

What else can you expect once you arrive? There will be photos taken, cookies to decorate, DJ music, Father’s Day cards to make, games including one where you try to guess each other’s favorite things, AND corsages for each young lady. There will also be refreshments served. 

What a great deal!

So, plan to attend and create lasting memories at MPCC on Friday, June 10 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Fathers and their daughters will cherish this time together while creating some wonderful memories!

Follow the event on Facebook for more information!

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, and wellness areas as well as a variety of special events and programs. For more information visit us at ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703.335.8872.

This promoted post was written by Maria Bosack for the Manassas Park Community Center. 
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