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Joshua Cole makes history as the official Democratic Nominee for Virginia House of Delegates 28th District

Election history was made early this week in Stafford and Fredericksburg. Joshua Cole, a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates 28th District, is now the official Democratic nominee for that elected position. He is the first African-American and the youngest candidate to ever win the Democratic nomination for House District 28.

On May 15, the 28th House of Delegates District Democratic Nominating Committee cancelled the Unassembled Caucus scheduled for May 21 at the Berea Firehouse. Cole was one of two Democratic candidates to file, but the other candidate dropped out in early April. Cole is now the official Democratic candidate and nominee for the 28th House of Delegates District, which covers much of western Stafford County and Fredericksburg. As such, his name will not be on the June 13 Primary ballot, but it will be on the General Election ballot in November.

“I am so honored to be the first African-American and the youngest nominated for this enormous and very important task,” Cole said. “Those pioneers before me, such as Dr. William Ferguson Reid and Rev. Lawrence Davies, paved my way. I am indebted to them.”

In 1968, Reid became the first African-American elected to the Virginia General Assembly since Reconstruction, and in 1976, Fredericksburg citizens elected Davies as their first African-American mayor, a post he held for 20 years.

“It’s nice to make history,” Cole added, “but this is not the history we want and need to make. Our goal is much higher and our aim is for Richmond.”

A bright new voice in the Commonwealth’s Democratic process, Cole is an Associate Pastor at Union Bell Baptist Church in Southern Stafford, and he serves as a behavioral aid for students in the Richmond Public Schools. He also spends time volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of the Rappahannock Region.

“I want to make a difference,” Cole said. “With the new leadership in the White House, I see that our country is heading backwards. Now is the time to step up and take action, to participate in the democratic process. We can’t afford not to.”

For more information, contact Team #Jcole4VA at (540) 642-0165 or jcole4va@gmail.com. You can also follow Joshua on all social media outlets @jcole4VA or visit www.jgcole.org.

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On Jan. 12, Joshua Cole challenged Speaker Bill Howell for his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Howell has since announced his retirement and will not be running for re-election. Appointed by Howell, Cole has served as the personal Page for (then) Governor Mark Warner and went on to serve as the Virginia Senate Chamber staff assistant during the 2016 General Assembly. Cole has seen the secret voice voting in committee and the battle of party politics. He promises to work for an open, transparent and accessible democracy. He assures the residents of Stafford and Fredericksburg will get their say in Richmond. Cole, an Associate Pastor at the Union Bell Baptist Church in Southern Stafford, serves as a behavioral aid for students in Richmond Public Schools and spends time volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in the local area. Children and education are high priorities, but so are transportation, health care and the state justice system. Cole is a fresh new voice for Stafford and Fredericksburg.

Prince William County community activist honored as adult volunteer of the year

Cydny A. Neville was honored with the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2017 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards program, recently held at the Executive Mansion.

A full-time teacher, Cydny has made birthdays possible for homeless youth across the Commonwealth over the past 17 years, with her Annual Birthday Bag Drive! She has also: worked with minority business owners in Prince William County, provided countless community programs to uplift, inspire, educate and empower the homeless, women and youth in her community and surrounding areas. (more…)



Give mom a gift of time to read, listen to music, or catch a few minutes of sleep, so she’ll arrive at work refreshed

Doing something special for your Mom on Mother’s Day is thoughtful, but what if you could make the gift last all year? You can give her something that helps make every day better – some free time and a stress-free commute!

When Mom commutes with OmniRide, she can use her travel time to listen to music, read, or catch a few minutes of sleep so she’ll arrive at work refreshed and ready to have a great day! And at just $6.50 per trip when paying with a SmarTrip card, the commute will save her some money too – all moms will like that!

OmniRide commuter bus routes start in Dale City, Gainesville, Lake Ridge, Manassas, the Route 1 corridor, and Woodbridge. Popular destinations include the Mark Center, Pentagon, Rosslyn/Ballston, Crystal City, Washington, D.C., Washington Navy Yard, and Tysons.

Or maybe Mom would rather take a Metro Direct bus for easy travel to a nearby Metrorail Station – and no parking fees! She can travel to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station from eastern Prince William County, and to the Tysons Corner Metro Station from Manassas and Gainesville. The fare is just $3.25 with a SmarTrip card.

If mom prefers to stay closer to home, the OmniLink local bus service is a great alternative with routes serving Dale City, Dumfries, Manassas, Manassas Park, Quantico, the Route 1 corridor, and Woodbridge/Lake Ridge. And don’t forget about the Cross County Connector, which operates between eastern Prince William and the Manassas area. Local fares are just $1.50 per trip, so Mom won’t be worried that you spent too much on her!

Yes, brunch and flowers are nice. But this year, give Mom the gift she’ll use year-round! See routes and timetables at PRTCtransit.org, or speak with a friendly PRTC Customer Service Agent at (703) 730-6664.


This year, celebrate Mother’s Day at Rangoli Indian Restaurant with the Grand Brunch Buffet

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Mommy, Mummy, Mama, Amma, Aai, Mata, Madre, Eomeoni, Taayi or whatever name you call her with, Mother is the reason we are all here. Celebrate and cherish the lady who cares and loves us the most. It is rightly said, “God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers!”

You may buy her the perfume or the cardigan, but you got to feed the lady who fed you.

Rangoli’s Mother’s Day buffet has been a special tradition for over eleven years. The spread includes an array of salads, fresh cut fruits, and condiments with Assorted Kebabs, the quintessential Butter Chicken, tender Goat Masala, succulent Fish Curry, aromatic Biryani and pilafs, a smorgasbord of vegetable side dishes and fresh bread baked for each table.

The buffet also includes South Indian delicacies like Idly, Vada, Sambar and on-the-spot Dosas. The pick is the favorite Indian street-side-pass-time of eating Pani Puri a.k.a Gol Gappas. Have unlimited pucchkas to your heart’s content.

Sweet endings include all time favorite Gulab Jamun and Kulfi Ice-Cream.

And while you are gorging on the tasty food, treat the lady to a Mimosa or fresh Bloody Mary at only $4 a glass. What’s not to be happy about this?

So, call ‘Rangoli’ now and add your name to the on-call list. The meal is super popular and Rangoli does not treat the advance callers as ‘Reservations.’

Their name is added to the wait list and bumped up when you show up. Large groups are encouraged to call in advance to enable quick seating.

Doors open early Sunday, May 14 at 11:30 a.m. and the Brunch is served through 3 p.m.

Call 703-957-4900 or Email Us!

Rangoli Indian Restaurant
Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Adults: $16.95 Kids: $8.95
10223 Nokesville Road
Manassas, VA 20110
www.rangolirestaurant.com


IKEA Woodbridge announces 70 jobs, plans hiring event May 9

WOODBRIDGE, Va. (April 19, 2017) IKEA Woodbridge announces the posting for 70 seasonal/temporary positions for a 120 day assignment, with the possibility to be hired as a permanent co-worker after the 120 day period.

Applicants can apply online at https://seeacareerwithus.com/ and save the date for our Meet and Greet event May 9, 2017 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.

ABOUT THE JOB An IKEA co-worker’s main task is to maximize sales and profitability in his/her area of responsibility using knowledge of the IKEA product range, local market conditions and the needs of customers. Together with thousands of colleagues around the world you will help to ensure the continued global success of the IKEA Concept – a concept that serves millions of satisfied customers each day.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT Your tasks will include:

IKEA has multiple positions available: Sales, IKEA Food, Logistics, Customer Relations. These Part Time positions range from 12 to 31 hours per week.

Candidates must be available to work on Saturdays, Sundays, and at least two nights a week.

YOUR PROFILE Your knowledge, skills and experience include:

You are confident about approaching and talking to people in a polite and friendly manner.
You are enthusiastic about working with others in a team.
You have a flexible approach to work and are open to change.
You have an interest in home furnishing and people’s everyday life at home.
You can prioritize and organize your own work to make efficient use of your time.

GROWING TOGETHER IKEA offers an exciting and empowering work environment in a global marketplace. And as the world’s leader at life at home, you have exceptional opportunities to grow and develop together with us.
*No. of Positions: 70

ABOUT IKEA
Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 392 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information see IKEA-USA.com, @IKEAUSANews, @IKEAUSA or IKEAUSA on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest

Community comes together to plant pinwheel garden

Community members, Prince William County employees and county officials come together every spring to “plant” a pinwheel garden to remind people of the importance of the prevention of child abuse and neglect. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the blue pinwheel is used as a symbol to raise awareness about child abuse.

This year, about two dozen people gathered to place blue pinwheels in the ground in front of the McCoart Government Center to commemorate the month and bring attention to this important topic. (more…)

Iglesia Vida hosts “Spring of Joy” event for local community

Area church, Iglesia VIDA, hosted a community event in Manassas on Saturday April 8th to provide services and information to the Hispanic community. The event, called “Spring of Joy” is an annual event hosted by the congregation. The purpose, according to its organizer Erika Hernandez, is “to attract the local community and create a fountain of information.” (more…)

VFW Post 7916 honors Vietnam veterans from the community

Veterans of Foreign War Post 7916 hosted the Vietnam Veteran Recognition Ceremony that honored Veterans who fought in the Vietnam War from the Woodbridge & Occoquan Community.

The honorees are: Marvin Coon, U.S. Army; Major David G. Cotts, U.S. Army; Wayne Dearie, Master Chief Boiler Technician U.S. Navy, Colonel Eugene Detrick, USAF; Harold “Ralph” Holecek, Boiler Technician Second Class U.S. Navy; LTC Mark H. Magnussen, U.S. Army; PFC John C. Prosch, Jr., U.S. Army; Captain Walter Schatz, U.S. Army; Captain Howard J.T. Steers, U.S. Army; Kenneth J. Strafer, U.S. Army and their families for their Vietnam service and sacrifice. (more…)

Come visit Congregation Ner Shalom

Congregation Ner Shalom is a diverse congregation reaching out to all people and making a conscious effort to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.

Rabbi Lizz Goldstein is a progressive and welcoming rabbi who relates to all age groups and all faiths. She has been the catalyst for interactive, interfaith and multi-cultural services that are a pure joy to attend. Have small children? Join the congregation for Tot Shabbat, an earlier Friday evening service for tots. (more…)

Virginia Bluebell Festival set for April 9

Please join us to welcome spring and view the spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the floodplain along Cedar Run for nearly a mile. This is also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area and meet local environmental organizations and people who are working to improve our community.

A series of naturalist-led tours will follow an easy one-mile walk through the floodplain. Each tour has a special focus, although leaders cover all interesting sights. Local organizations will share displays and activities for children of all ages. Check online at pwconserve.org for the tour schedule and list of participating organizations.

A bake sale and a hand-painted rain barrel raffle to benefit stewardship projects at Merrimac Farm round out the event. Concessions and food will be available for purchase. Bring binoculars, cameras, and the kids, and come out to join us for a day of fun!
Free of charge. Sponsored by VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries and Prince William Conservation Alliance with support from Marine Corps Base Quantico.

For more information, check online at pwconserve.org or contact Prince William Conservation Alliance at 703.499.4954, alliance@pwconserve.org, pwconserve.org

Great Prince William Clean Up, 5K planned to celebrate Earth Day weekend

Prince William, Virginia – Keep Prince William Beautiful, Prince William County’s leading non-profit organization to inspire individual responsibility and collective action toward a clean, green and vibrant community, announced today the annual Great Prince William Clean Up of Route 1 from Occoquan to Quantico will take place from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2017. On Sunday, April 23, 2017, Keep Prince William Beautiful will host the Ready. Set. Grow! 5k Run for the Earth in historic Occoquan.

Volunteers are needed to pick up litter along Route 1 from Occoquan to Quantico; volunteers will be provided refreshments, a celebratory picnic after the clean-up, and a commemorative t-shirt. The Great Prince William Clean Up is a wonderful volunteer opportunity for church groups, civic associations, businesses and neighborhood groups along the Route 1 corridor, as well as families and concerned citizens. To volunteer, e-mail Jen Medina at jmedina@kpwb.org, or sign up on facebook.com/KeepPrinceWilliamBeautiful.

The Run for the Earth 5K on Sunday, April 23 kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at the Davis Park in Occoquan. Vendors, activities for children, and a food truck will be on hand. Runners receive a complimentary t-shirt and proceeds benefit Keep Prince William Beautiful’s educational outreach programs. Registration is $20, and runners can register at keepprincewilliambeautiful.eventbrite.com.

“We are delighted to lead hundreds of volunteers in cleaning up Route 1 for our annual clean up, and to celebrate with a 5k race in the beautiful and historic town of Occoquan,” said Jason Parsons, KPWB’s Executive Director, “These events will kick off Keep Prince William Beautiful Week, and our weeklong celebration running through Arbor Day.”

Keep Prince William Beautiful will soon announce additional community events running through Arbor Day, April 29, to celebrate Keep Prince William Beautiful Week, and all the beautiful things to do in a clean and green Prince William County.

EMSI Engineering relocates to Manassas Park

From Manassas Park Economic Development Manager, Ryan Gandy:

EMSI Engineering Inc. has relocated their headquarters from the Chamber building in Manassas to the City of Manassas Park. EMSI is an architectural and engineering company established in Manassas, Virginia in 1987 and offers comprehensive consultation in testing and inspections, geotechnical and environmental engineering, surveying, civil engineering, architectural, project management, and interior design.

“We are thrilled EMSI decided to relocate their headquarters from Manassas to Manassas Park”, says Ryan Gandy, Economic Development Manager for the City of Manassas Park. “Their experience and contributions in the field of engineering services and their development presence in The Park make them a welcome addition to our diverse business community.” (more…)

Gainesville parking lot unavailable on March 10

From PTRC Transit:

The lot at the Gainesville United Methodist Church will be unavailable for parking by Gainesville OmniRide and Linton Hall Metro Direct passengers on Friday, March 10, 2017 due to a Boy Scouts mulch sale.

Alternate parking will be across the street at the rear of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. This alternate parking arrangement is for Friday, March 10 only.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Public hearings on proposed VRE fare increases

From Virginia Railway Express:

Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is holding a series of public hearings throughout the next two weeks to solicit comments on a proposed increase to its fares. A three percent fare increase is being proposed in order to pay for increased operations costs and the Amtrak Step-up tickets would increase from $5 to $7.

If adopted, this change would become effective the first week of July 2017, to coincide with the start of the FY 2018 budget year. The proposed fare charts can be found on our website here. (more…)

Occoquan VFW member elected to Cold War Museum Board of Directors

Charles P. “Chuck” Wilson has been elected to the Board of Directors of The Cold War Museum. The Board of Directors provide the oversight and direction for The Cold War Museum. The Cold War Museum is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to education, preservation, and research on the global, ideological, and political confrontations between East and West from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. “We welcome Chuck to our board and look forward to using his diverse expertise in enhancing our museum endeavors,” said Ambassador Charlie Ray, Chairman of the Board.

Chuck Wilson posseses diverse experience in Politico Military Affairs, National Security Policy, Defense Acquisition and Business Development. Wilson is a retired Air Force Senior Officer who was a U-2 Pilot, and U-2 Instructor Pilot, and held operational Commands at multiple levels. He also served in key positions on the Joint Staff; in Office of the Secretary of Defense; and at the Department of State where he led US delegations to facilitate diplomatic arrangements for US Forces to deploy Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The assignment at State was a key position following the 9/11 attacks upon the US. Wilson retired from the Air Force to look after his parents and became a business executive with both Raytheon and L-3 Communications specializing in intelligence systems. Currently he a Consultant with the Goyak Group.

Wilson’s pro bono work includes the Veterans of Foreign Wars Vice Commander Virginia District 10, Commander Occoquan VFW Post 7916, and The Chairman Potomac Region Veterans Council.

2017 General Assembly is in the books

In the 2017 General Assembly session, which ended on February 25, we were able to make some progress in spite of a $1.1 billion budget shortfall.

First, we approved amendments to the state’s biennial budget. After drawing on a $560 million Rainy Day Fund, the budget funds the state share of a long-overdue two percent salary increase for teachers, a three percent raise for state employees, and a $7,000-per-year increase in starting salaries ($36,000) for state troopers. As always, we met our constitutional obligation to balance the budget.

Fifteen of my bills now await Governor McAuliffe’s action. The legislature referred two of my bills for further study. In the session’s last week, I served on seven conference committees to negotiate final language for several bills.

My legislation requiring the city of Alexandria to address raw sewage discharges passed both houses. Although the bill will allow Alexandria to discharge an additional 550 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River, it requires all discharges to stop by 2025.

While this will cost the city about $150-$200 million to fix, I am committed to helping locate state funds to support construction over the next eight years. I especially appreciate Agriculture and Natural Resource Chairman Senator Richard Stuart’s dedication to finding a solution and the support of Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Paul Krizek who consistently supported solving this problem.

My legislation requiring owners of coal ash ponds to provide the public better information passed. I hope the Governor will restore some of the key provisions removed in the House of Delegates.

My legislation to make it easier to hold drunk drivers accountable for injuring victims passed both houses unanimously. This bill was necessary in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Birchfield v. North Dakota decision last year which now requires a search warrant for nearly all withdrawals of blood.

I introduced two college transparency bills. One requires 30-days’ notice of a proposed tuition increase, an explanation of the need and the date and time of any vote on a tuition increase at state-supported colleges. My second bill requires colleges and universities and community colleges to publish a list of all courses guaranteed to transfer so that students do not mistakenly take non-transferable classes and delay graduation.

During the last year, I have been involved in cases in which child support payors passed away while in arrears for child support. I was surprised to learn that this was not a priority debt during the administration of an estate and basically gets treated like credit card debt. My legislation to require child support arrearages to be paid before general debts passed both houses without a single dissenting vote.

All bills passed by the legislature now go to the Governor who must either amend, sign or veto them by March 27. Next week, I will cover some other bills that the legislature passed and the following week I will report on some bills that the legislature did not pass.

In the meantime, please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey and email me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any questions.

It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.

Prince William Chamber of Commerce 2017 Business Award Winners

Submitted: 

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce celebrated passion and excellence in the business community with their annual Business Awards banquet on February 28 at Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Northern Virginia Community College was the Presenting Sponsor. James MacGregor, Publisher of the Washington Business Journal served as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to the Chamber’s awards, the event also featured awards presented by the Mayors of the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

And the winners are…

Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Awards

These awards are named after the first wife of the late Senator Colgan: Agnes Colgan (deceased). As a mother and grandmother she was known to live by example, compelling family, friends and strangers to reach out to others in need and view the world with an empathetic heart. Mrs. Colgan was an avid volunteer and fundraiser for a wide array of charitable organizations including the American Red Cross, SERVE and Transitional Housing BARN. Each of the winners receive an award to display in addition to a check for $1,000. No organization may win more than once in a three-year period.

 

Health & Human Services: Project Mend-A-House

Project Mend-A-House is a community-based, not-for-profit organization committed to improving the living conditions of seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and low-income residents in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. By offering no-cost or low-cost home repairs, safety and accessibility modifications, durable medical equipment, fall prevention and chronic disease self-management programs, they empower residents of all ages and abilities to remain safely and independently in their own homes.

Project Mend-A-House primarily uses the skills of volunteer carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. and matches them with projects to serve people in need.  In 2016, more than 5,000 volunteer hours led to the completion of nearly 700 home repair, safety and accessibility tasks. Just one example of the kind of work being done by Project-Mend-A-House:  Mr. Ernest F is a decorated Vietnam Veteran. He suffers from several physical and mental health issues, including hoarding. His neighbors filed a complaint with the County because of the state of his home exterior and yard. Mr. F needed a roof replacement, and extensive exterior repairs to ensure his home remained in livable condition and that he would avoid further penalties or prosecution. The county asked Project Mend-A-House to help. After 9 months spent gaining his trust, Project Mend-A-House was able to hold the first yard clean-up. The secret ingredient was putting a Veteran volunteer in place as the lead on the project; a shared history helped the two to develop a rapport and some needed trust. At the first clean-up day, a 30 yard dumpster was filled with debris and other items from his backyard alone. Thanks to the recommendation of Delegate Richard Anderson, general contractor Larkin Remodeling took on the exterior repairs. Sub-contractors were found to donate time and materials. They were able to completely replace Mr. F’s roof, soffit, gutters, fascia and siding. The project wrappede project in December of 2016 when Home Depot donated the installation and equipment for Mr. F’s new garage door. Thanks to the involvement of so many members of the community and the incredible amount of work accomplished, Mr. F’s court case was dropped and he is able to remain in his home avoiding further penalties from the county.  In recognition of the exhausting yet necessary work being done by Project Mend-A-House, the Chamber presents the Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Award in the category of Health & Human Services. 

Arts & Education: Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County

The mission of the Center for the Arts is to enrich the creative community by engaging people of all ages; celebrating diversity, fostering innovation and cultivating collaboration and communication. Where similar organizations may be focused solely on visual arts, or dance, or theatre with programs for either adults or children; the Center for the Arts is proud to offer programs for all ages, in a multitude of mediums.

Their Arts on the Go program is one-of-a-kind, designed to elevate creative learning in the local schools.  In 2015 and 2016, the Center partnered with the Governor’s School at Innovation Park to provide mentorships for the high school students at the school.  The mentorships allow students to work with Center staff to design and build Arts on the Go modules which are then used by local elementary and middle school students.  The most notable outcome has been that the interns from the Governor’s School have learned to think creatively to solve educational challenges in their community.  In a time when local businesses have commented on their desire to see more “Out of the Box” thinking from future employees, this program encourages cultivation of such processes. The award is presented in hopes that the Center for the Arts will be able to continue their Arts on the Go and Governor’s School internship programs in pursuit of educating local students in the arts.

Charles J. Colgan Visionary Award: Carlos Castro, Todos Supermarket

Named after the recently-deceased Virginia Statesman, Senator Charles Colgan, the Visionary Award is meant to be awarded to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, including but not limited to their own organization. Just like Senator Colgan, a long-time member of the Chamber with Colgan Air and a Past Chairman of the Board, this individual should be known as an innovator, a great partner, a visionary and an advocate for his or her community and beyond. This is the second year in which the award has been presented. 

Carlos first came to the United States as an illegal immigrant fleeing war in El Salvador.  He was caught and deported. Then he came back. Today he is a U.S. citizen and the owner of Todos Supermarkets, a multi-million dollar business.  An outspoken advocate for open communication between the Hispanic community and local governments, Mr. Castro is known as a leader among fellow business owners and in the Hispanic community.  His stores, named with the Spanish word for “everyone,” specialize in foods and services for people from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. A true businessman, he recently expanded his supermarket to offer ancillary services like postal services, money transfers, insurance and travel services in response to the needs he saw among his customers. Business leaders and government officials alike turn to him for advice and leadership, particularly on issues pertaining to the Hispanic community.  At his urging the entire Castro family has become engaged in the community and is picking up the mantle of leadership. He is a strong supporter of the Chamber and gives generously of his time and money to support countless worthy causes. Carlos is a man who came to this country to escape war and poverty – and through his own perseverance, ingenuity – with the highest integrity – has become a visionary leader for the Prince William region. Never could it be said that Carlos Castro has allowed his success to go to his head. Whether providing a helping hand to the less fortunate or helping Latinos assimilate and become contributing members of their communities, “Carlos Castro is an ambassador for empowering people to learn more, do better and prosper.” 

Business Awards

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: City of Manassas Park, Parks & Recreation

The innovative practice for which the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) was recognized is that they incorporate partnerships into nearly every one of their programs. In the City’s nomination, there were descriptions of a dozen different programs made possible through partnerships. But to save time, we just picked out a few to highlight. To quote Jason Shriner, the Marketing Manager for DPR: “We in the department understand the value of forming solid partnerships. As City employees we are tasked with expending City funds responsibly. When feasible we leverage partnerships, in-kind donations sponsorships and volunteers to provide resources for a greater diversity of people in our community while avoiding duplication of efforts.” During the summer, DPR invites the City’s Police and Fire Departments to conduct free camps for teens recognized as “at risk.” The public safety officials run the camps with the help of the parks–the goal being to help students recognize alternative futures for themselves. The “Leaders in Training” program is done with the help of Manassas Park Middle School. Once again at-risk students are chosen and taken through a rigorous 9-week training program involving guest speakers, community service and team-building exercises. At the conclusion of the program, graduates are eligible to be hired by the Department of Parks & Recreation. “Leaders in Training” includes arts and culture programming provided by the Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas/Prince William County. In exchange for their participation, the Center for the Arts has access to additional rehearsal space for their Pied Piper Theater at the Manassas Park Community Center. The partnerships feed one another and increase available programming options for the residents of Manassas Park. Finally there is the MAP clinic run by George Mason University. MAP is a free acute care services clinic for those without health insurance. Nursing students who work the clinic receive credit towards their degrees. Manassas Park residents enjoy greater health. In light of their commitment to innovative partnerships in order to serve the residents of their City in amazing ways, the Chamber is pleased to present the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation with the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year.

Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year: Prince William County Solid Waste Division

It’s not every community that can say their landfill has been internationally recognized for model operations and innovative practices. But the Prince William County Landfill, operated by the Solid Waste Division, has been honored with numerous awards. Their brilliance shines in their transformation of trash to electricity with the landfill gas to energy project; environmental protection measures and good neighbor policies such as the 100-acre buffer area and newly constructed wetlands. In 2016, the Prince William County Solid Waste Division envisioned and then partnered with Prince William County Schools, Prince William County Parks and Recreation, area Boy Scouts, George Mason University Environmental Science staff, Dominion Virginia Power and PWC Public Works Youth Ambassadors to add sparkle to the outdoor environmental education of three neighboring schools.  With the help of their partners, the Outdoor Discovery Trail was carved in to the 100-acre landfill buffer area, complete with curriculum, outdoor class rooms and signage. The Outdoor Discovery Trail is in the “backyards” of the new Charles Colgan High School and Benton Middle School and adjacent to Coles Elementary School.  Representatives of each school, science administration staff for the school system and GMU’s environmental science staff provided valuable input into the curriculum and trail amenities needed for each grade level.  The Boy Scouts helped build classrooms, the Youth Ambassadors helped preserve and secure an historic site along the trail, and Dominion constructed interpretive signage kiosks, trail signs and storage sheds to house environmental equipment at the three trailheads.  The 1.7 mile trail is open to other schools and organized groups with prior permission. Future plans include an additional mile of trail that will overlook the constructed wetlands and lead to a STEM education center, as well as more opportunities for innovative partnerships. According to their nomination, “In addition to being one of the greenest, and most environmentally responsible landfills in the nation, the Solid Waste Division’s commitment to community education is unparalleled. Uniting partners for environmental education is their strong suit.” For spearheading the Discovery Trail partnership, which has the potential to teach our students and positively impact the local environment for years to come, the Chamber presents the award for Innovative Practice/Partnership of the Year to the Prince William County Solid Waste Division.

Community Outreach Award: What’s Up Prince William

What’s Up Prince William is a relatively young news site, but they’ve developed quite a following since their founding in late 2015, including 17,000 Facebook followers. Perhaps the most impressive thing has been their commitment to the not-for-profit community. They post events and fundraisers held by the not-for-profit community (at no charge) and frequently make efforts to cover those events through photos and videos; a big job for a small staff. ST Billingsley and Stephanie Carter believe in the value of community organizations and want them not only to be successful, but to find passionate partners for their work in the community. It’s no surprise then that What’s Up Prince William became one of the Chamber’s Premier Partners this year. You will frequently see the What’s Up Prince William team covering Chamber events and promoting the work the Chamber is doing in the community. For their work to focus on good news and their commitment to igniting a community-wide passion for giving back, the Chamber presents the Community Outreach Award to What’s Up Prince William.

Government Contractor of the Year: Athena Construction Group

Athena Construction Group, Ic. (Athena) is a General Contractor specializing in interior renovations with an emphasis on hospital and military facility construction.  Athena has the distinction of the being the nation’s only Service Disabled Veteran, Woman-Owned, HUB Zone, 8(a) construction company. Since their inception in 2003, trust, integrity & accountability have been their guiding principles.  Founded by VP Melissa Schneider and run by President Amber Peebles, both former officers in the United States Marine Corps, Athena has gained a reputation for savvy project management that sets them apart in the competitive world of government contracting. They pride themselves on having worked with clients such as the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, National Cemetery Administration, US Geological Survey and the Marine Corps.  2016 was a year of milestones for Athena.  They were granted an interim secret level security clearance.  With the help of financing from fellow Chamber member First Virginia Community Bank, they also purchased an 11,000 sq ft. building in Prince William County.  For Athena, the purchase of their new building serves as a testament to their growth from humble beginnings as well as a reminder of their strength in overcoming adversity.  Last year a trusted employee in a significant position of authority and responsibility sabotaged one of their jobs, resulting in a loss in excess of $465,000.  In spite of challenges, they continue to grow and pursue the building of a team that embraces personal and professional accountability.   Athena considers themselves leaders in an industry that supports the warfighter and national security. In recognition of their pursuit of greater accountability and efficient execution of government contracts, Athena Construction Group receives the award for Government Contractor of the Year.

Outstanding Professional Service Award: Baden Contracting

Baden Contracting is a family-owned, licensed and insured Class A Contractor specializing in home remodeling projects. If you’ve ever watched a show like “Property Brothers” on HGTV, you know that their other specialty — finishing on schedule, and at a reasonable price — is a marketable asset in the home remodeling community. Owner Corey Baden began his career in construction in his teens working for his family’s business: Baden Seamless Gutters. When he started his own company in his mid-20’s, he set out to be the kind of contractor who would really listen and understand potential clients before offering a quote. In the early years of his business, Corey set out to prove himself to be a reliable and knowledgeable professional: someone that potential clients could trust in and around their homes. Today he still works just as hard to earn and keep the trust of every client. When it comes to the service industry, the customer says it best: “Baden Contracting has just finished several projects for me. Initially there was a timeline in which I agreed to wait for the work to be started. They were able to start weeks earlier than proposed. The work completed was professional in every way. Keeping a rapport with the customer is something that really caught my attention. There was never a moment when I was left in the dark. I would hire them again in a heartbeat!” In recognition of the fact that they go above and beyond for their customers, continuously offering more and better services to the homeowners they serve, Baden Contracting is presented with the award for Outstanding Professional Service.

Tech Company of the Year: Aurora Flight Sciences

Headquartered at the Manassas Regional Airport, Aurora Flight Sciences is a world-wide leader in the research and development of unmanned aircraft systems, robotics and autonomous flight technologies. Just one example of the exciting advancements in aerospace being accomplished right here in Manassas is their recent contract with DARPA, for which Aurora is working on a design called Lightning Strike; poised to revolutionize unmanned vertical flight. Contracts with NASA and the FAA are contributing to design and testing for their D8 commercial aircraft, projected to improve aircraft fuel efficiency by up to 70 percent. They continue to make advancements in their solar aircraft program which will deliver unlimited capability in utilizing the sun’s energy for continuous efficient flight. These items exclusively highlight the “future” of aerospace coming out of Aurora, but they have plenty of past victories in their 28 history on which they could have rested. In the spirit of a true community of scientists and engineers, however, they continue to innovate and impress with their work. The Chamber is proud to name Aurora Flight Sciences as Tech Company of the Year.

Emerging Business of the Year: KO Distilling

Craft distillery KO Distilling opened their doors in the City of Manassas on September 12, 2015 with a 12,000 square foot facility featuring a state-of-the-art distilling plant, barrel storage, and tasting room. They produce three gins, Virginia Moon White Whiskey and Bare Knuckle bourbon, rye and wheat whiskeys. Co-founded by college classmates and long-time friends Bill Karlson and John O’Mara, KO Distilling is part of the emerging craft spirits industry in Virginia, providing exports as well as tourism revenue. To date, KO Distilling has won nine awards in spirits competitions, including a gold medal for their Battle Standard 142 Barrel Finished Gin at the 2016 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.  The Chamber is proud to have KO as a 2016/2017 Cornerstone Partner. In August 2016, KO Distilling announced that it will expand its operations, thanks in part to financial support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Manassas.  The company will invest $675,000 in the site improvements and equipment needed to expand its distillery and tasting room, nearly tripling production capacity.  With a new column still and upgraded handling systems, they will be capable of a 300% increase in production as well the creation of six new jobs.  When their expansion is complete, KO Distilling is projected to emerge as one of the top 5 distillery producers in the state. In November 2016, they released their first brown spirit — aged in new charred American oak barrels for one year.  With the introduction of their first aged spirit, they were able to establish a relationship with a distributor who opened them up to markets outside of Virginia. On the heels of that success, John and Bill continue to work to find new ways to get their products in the hands, homes and glasses of consumers. The Chamber recognizes the success of KO Distilling, to date, with the 2017 Emerging Business of the Year Award.

Excellence in Small Business (1-10 Employees): Metro Sign & Design, Inc.

They may be a small business, but it would seem that Metro Sign & Design, Inc. can do it all; providing complete in-house production and installation for all kinds of signs — including vinyl and printed banners, sandblasting and carving, welded metal structures and automotive quality painting.  They have in-house capabilities to build signs using neon, LED and fluorescent lighting.  Bob Anderson and his team of skilled artisans and installers offer turn-key service to every business client by handling the process from start to finish; beginning with design and extending to permitting and installation. Their goal is to deliver every project on-time and within budget. Metro’s services save the customer time and money. Because of their outstanding reputation with local governments across the Commonwealth, Metro Sign & Design are often able to protect customers from exposure to building, electrical and zoning violations, as well as provide savings on zoning attorney fees.   Not only do they have an outstanding reputation for service with a small crew, Metro Sign & Design is known as a prolific community supporter. Whether through time or treasure, Bob and his staff are known to support numerous organizations such as Transitional Housing BARN, Historic Manassas, City of Manassas Park Community Events, The Hylton Performing Arts Center and the American Red Cross just to name a very few. Metro Sign & Design has been an active member of the Chamber since 1991.

Business Excellence Award (11+ Employees): Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC

From their start in 1986, one of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian’s goals was to become a sophisticated law firm providing top-notch work for the community’s legal needs. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them for the realization of that goal. Over the years, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian has grown to include twelve practice areas and 29 employees who all work in concert to provide every client with the best possible outcome for their legal needs. Many of their attorneys have been hand-picked because they have a knowledge base that extends beyond the law to include areas such as architecture, civil engineering and business management—adding an extra element of knowledge and understanding to the client experience. VF&N is an “AV” rated Pre-eminent Law Firm, meaning they hold the highest possible rating for ability and ethical behavior.  Three of their partners have served as the Chairman of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Chamber of Commerce and seven of their attorneys were recognized by Virginia Business Magazine in 2016 as “Legal Elite” in their practice areas. Recognizing that a successful business is one that helps those around them thrive, VF&N’s attorneys are deeply rooted in community membership organizations and not-for-profits. The attorneys of Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian provide leadership through volunteerism and monetary contributions. Notably, Novant Health UVA Health System and Habitat for Humanity Prince William County have each recognized the firm for over $100,000 in contributions over the years. Since its inception, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce has been proud to call Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian a Premier Partner and supporter through in-kind services. The Chamber is pleased to recognize them with the award for Business Excellence.

Scholarship for local Civil War history

The Bull Run Civil War Round Table in Centreville, Va. offers a $1,500 scholarship to a high school senior who resides in Fairfax or Prince William County and will attend college in the fall of 2017.

The applicant can be from a public or private school and plans to attend a college or community college. The deadline is April 1.

Information and application instructions can be found at bullruncwrt.org. The Bull Run Civil War Round Table works to preserve Civil War sites in the local area as well as to provide speakers and tours of many local Civil War sites.

Everyone is welcome to attend its meetings at the Centreville Library every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.

Coal Ash bill passes, computers and predatory lending to be studied

We have one week to go in session and negotiations are rapidly reaching conclusion as we push to finish out work so we can get back to our families and our jobs.

This past week, my legislation to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500 failed. Virginia’s threshold has not changed since 1981. Our existing system unnecessarily focuses police and prosecutors on minor crimes instead of violent crime while tainting thousands of Virginia’s suffering from depression or drug addiction with felony charges for life.
The House of Delegates passed my legislation requiring Dominion to provide better information on coal ash pollution, disaster preparedness, and recycling. I am not happy that a permitting moratorium was removed, it is better than no bill at all and the Governor will also have a chance to amend the legislation.

The House is also poised to pass my legislation that would require the police to provide police records to next of kin in deaths involving suicide or unattended deaths. Some police departments refuse to provide this information. I think it will help families achieve closure and assure high quality policing.

Two of my more significant bills have been referred for further study. As a part-time legislature, we frequently refer meritorious, but complex proposals to groups who meet outside of session that have better staff support, can take a deeper dive into policy choices, and provide a longer period for stakeholder vetting.

My legislation that would require school systems to purchase personal computing devices for all students expected to use electronic textbooks was sent to the Future of Public Elementary and Secondary Education Joint Committee. I am hopeful we will finally come up with some guidelines to make a personal digital device an essential learning tool in the Commonwealth.

Also, my legislation requiring regulation of predatory internet lenders was sent to the Virginia’s Bureau of Financial Institutions who was directed to create a working group to propose a regulatory framework in 2018. Today, internet lenders are making loans in Virginia at rates north of 500%. For example, this week I went to www.cashnetusa.com and they are offering loans for $100, $300, or $1800 at a daily rate of 0.8192% or in other words – an APR of 299% before you include the 15% “transaction fee” on your initial loan. This means if you borrow $100 and make no payments you would owe $458.86 after one year before late fees. Others have seen rates as high as 5,000%. We need to get this under control.

This week, I also hope to be part of negotiating the final terms of my legislation placing controls on the City of Alexandria’s raw sewage discharges. The House passed similar legislation that takes a different approach. Also, about 10 more of my bills are set to pass the House of Delegates this week.

We will begin the process of packing up our office in preparation of moving to temporary office space for the next four years. The current General Assembly Building is an agglomeration of four asbestos-laden, leaky, and unreliable buildings with uncoordinated elevators and lousy accessibility. We will move down the hill for four years as “the GAB” is demolished and reconstructed through 2022.

Finally, I have received nearly 400 responses to my Constituent Survey. Please make sure you provide your opinions soon at www.scottsurovell.org/survey.

It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Crossover Week, town halls, senate budget

Crossover week of the 2017 Session came to a close as we finished initial action on over 3,000 bills. Twenty-two of my bills of were passed by the Senate and moved on to the House of Delegates.

My two Saturday Town Hall meetings had the largest crowds I have seen in eight years. There was significant concern regarding federal immigration raids on U.S. 1. On Friday, I received alarming reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had arrested numerous Latinos in a raid on U.S.1. While the deportation of convicted felons has been consistent policy, random street sweeps and arrest or deportations of law abiding residents is unprecedented in our community. I will work to get better information and seek to stop these actions.

Other questions focused on affordable housing, education funding, water quality, addressing the opioid crisis, respecting LGBTQ rights, proliferation of out-of-state license plates, and concerns about fracking. You can watch videos of both town halls on my You Tube channel.

On Monday, we heard a spirited debate on the regulation of short-term rentals by services such as AirBNB. Since we considered legislation last year, I heard concerns from numerous residents about residences being effectively used as hotel or movie studios. The bill we passed reaffirms local government’s authority to regulate temporary rentals and the fine owners who fail to pay occupancy taxes for renting property to multiple tenants over 30-days per years.

On Thursday, we passed the Senate Amendments to the State Budget. I am pleased that the Senate Budget Amendments provided unconditional matching funds for a two-percent raise for our teachers. These funds, coupled with other amendments would result in an additional $18.5 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, $26.6 million for Prince William County Public Schools and $7.1 million for Stafford County Public Schools.

Unfortunately, the Senate has proposed to cut about $6 million from the Governor’s proposed budget to improve operation of our election system. Last year, Virginia’s voter registration system failed on the last day of voter registration due to Virginians attempting to register to vote. The Governor’s proposed funding would have solved this problem. I will work to ensure it is restored.

On Thursday, my two pedestrian and cycling safety bills acquired a bit of a “fever” on the House side of the Chamber. Biking and pedestrian safety is a major problem in the United States, Virginia and the 36th District. Nationwide bike and pedestrian fatalities are rising faster than average. In Virginia, pedestrian fatalities were up fifty-one percent (51%) in 2016. That kind of increase is not an aberration.

My legislation to clarify the use of bike lanes and specifically prohibit the use of bike lanes to pass cars was killed in a House Transportation Subcommittee by one vote. Members were concerned that it would be “confusing” to drivers. I argued that driver education and signage would solve the problem, but was not persuasive.

My legislation to create a new standard and new penalties for seriously injuring a “vulnerable user” was sent to the House Courts Committee which previously killed a similar bill. Hopefully, I will have better luck.

This week, my legislation to generate better information regarding coal ash regulation will be up for vote along with most of my other bills in the House of Delegates.

As always, if you have any feedback, drop me a note at scott@scottsurovell.org. Also, please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey if you have not done so yet. It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.

Dudenhefer bills on Widewater State Park, school nursers ‘crossover’

From Delegate Mark Dudenhefer: 

Hello from your state capitol in Richmond. As of February 3rd, the House has completed 24 of the 45 days of the 2017 session. On Sunday, February 5th, the committees responsible for the budget bills unveiled their complete proposals. Two important deadlines are happening this week. One of the deadlines is called “Crossover” the deadline with which each chamber must complete work on bills that originated in their chamber. Thursday the House will vote on their version of the budget.

Things to Mention:

1. HB 1691 Widewater Bill

This bill authorizes the Department of Conservation and Recreation to convey some property to the Widewater Beach Subdivision Citizens Association. This bill passed the House today and will now go to the Senate for consideration.

2. HB 1829 CPR Bill

This bill requires that teachers seeking or renewing a teacher’s license are required to demonstrate hands-on training of the skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It is imperative that hands-on training is included in the curriculum for emergency first aid training. The bill was approved by the House and is awaiting Senate action.

3. HB 1769 Malicious Bodily Injury or Laser Pointing at U.S. Armed Forces

The bill adds uniformed members of the United States Armed Forces, including members of the Virginia National Guard, to the list of persons the malicious or unlawful wounding of whom, or the pointing of a laser at whom, is subject to an enhanced penalty. Unfortunately, the Court and Justice Committee chose not to hear this legislation citing funding shortfalls.

4. HB 1757 School Nurses

This bill requires that each local school board employ at least one full-time equivalent school nurse in each school or one nurse for every 550 students. After passing the committee on Education, the bill was tabled in the Appropriation Committee for lack of funds. Even though the bill failed, it was important to raise awareness of the importance of a school nurse in every school.

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