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Wants You to Know

Here are the most read stories on Potomac Local in 2017

10. Driver killed in I-95 wrong-way crash 

A driver was killed on October 12 when he entered Interstate 95 headed in the wrong direction.

9. Mapledale fatal motorcycle crash

On February 18, we reported on a motorcyclist who was killed while riding on Mapledale Avenue.

8. Heroin seizure in Aquia Harbour 

On October 23, we were told about a large heroin seizure that took place following a drug overdose at Aquia Harbour.

7. Two fights at Downtown Manassas bars

On January 30, we were told of the arrest of two people in connection with two separate fights at as many bars in Downtown Manassas.

6. Stafford deputy frees captive woman 

On September 15, we were told a Stafford County Sheriff’s Deputy approached a truck in a commuter parking lot and found a woman who was being held against her will.

5. Social media fight search 

Police began a search for a 19-year-old woman following an argument on social media.

4. Farm Brew Live prepares to open

On February 22, we reported (the then) soon to open Farm Brew Live project was moving along and had planned to hire 100 employees. 

3. Civil War Weekend canceled 

On August 18, Manassas officials said the annual Civil War Weekend would be canceled following violent and deadly protests in Charlottesville. 

2. Clint Gaskins dies following police pursuit 

On August 6, police pursued 36-year-old Clint Gaskins, of Lake Ridge, during a chase on Interstates 395 and 95. Gaskins was killed when the motorcycle he was riding ran off the road.

1. Security guard stabbed to death at Potomac Mills

On March 4, two loss prevention employees approached a man they suspected of shoplifting outside of a Burlington Coat Factory at Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge. 

The man stabbed to death one of the employees

Dumfries has its eye on a series of ‘nuisance’ homes facing possible demolition

The Dumfries Town Council will hold a series of public hearings at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 3, to address buildings they have identified as unsafe or a nuisance to the community. 

The identified buildings are located at: 

17679 Main St, Dumfries

17685 Main St, Dumfries

17695 Main St, Dumfries

17703 Main St, Dumfries

17733 Main St, Dumfries

Here’s the full text of a posted public notice from the town: 

The Town Council of the Town of Dumfries hereby gives notice of a public hearing in which Town Council will determine whether the residence located at 17733 Main St, Dumfries, Virginia (hereinafter the “Structure”) is a nuisance or a danger to the safety of the owner, the occupant or the public pursuant to Dumfries Town Code Sections 26-172 and 26-174.

The Town Council will conduct a public hearing prior to making a determination about the unsafe or hazardous conditions of a Structure pursuant to Dumfries Town Code 26-175. If after the public hearing Town Council determines that the Structure constitutes a nuisance or danger, Council plans to adopt an ordinance declaring the Structure to be a nuisance, and Council can order the removal, demolition, repair or securing of the Structure in question. See Dumfries Town Code 26-176.

If the owner fails to comply with Council’s Order, the Town is authorized to cause the Structure to be removed, repaired, or secured and cause any hazardous conditions at the property to be abated and charge the expense to the Owner. Pursuant to the Town Code §§ 26-177, 26-178, every charge assessed against the Owner, if unpaid, shall constitute a lien against the property of the Owner of the Structure and that lien shall rank on parity with liens for unpaid taxes and shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided in the Code of Virginia, Title 58.1, Chapter 39, Articles 3 and 4. The Town is also authorized to seek a civil penalty against the owner of up to $1,000.00.

All supporting material is available for public inspection at the Office of the Town Clerk at 17755 Main Street, Dumfries, Virginia 22026 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The public hearing is being held in a public facility believed to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Any person with questions on accessibility of the facility or needing to discuss accommodations of a disability should contact the Town Clerk at (703) 221-3400 or dhobgood@dumfriesva.gov during normal business hours.

The structures date back as far as 1920.

Prince William County school teacher Atif Qarni named Virginia Education Secretary 

A Prince William County School teacher will be Virginia’s next Secretary of Education. 

Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam came to Beville Middle School in Dale City about 1:30 p.m. Thursday to announce Atif Qarni, an 8th-grade civics teacher at the school, would oversee the state’s education department. 

It is very important to me that we have a secretary of education in the Commonwealth of Virginia that understands the classroom,” said Northam. Someone who knows K-12 education and has a vision of where to take K-12 in the coming years”

A Marine, educated at George Washington and George Mason University, Qarni has long been active in local politics. In 2013, he challenged Bob Marshall for the 13th District House of Delegates seat, soon to be held by Danica Roem. Two years later, he ran and lost in a Primary Election against State Senator Jeremy McPike, who went on to win the General Election against Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish.

Northam, a pediatrician, says career development for teachers and addressing overcrowded classrooms — of which Prince William County has the most overcrowded classrooms in the Washingon, D.C. region — are top priorities for his education office. 

Qarni received a phone call on Wednesday telling him he had been selected for the job after a two-week interview process. It is a job the 8th-grade teacher applied for because he feels he can use his experience from the classroom to make positive changes in Richmond.

“I’m looking forward to using the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years as a classroom teacher,” he said.

His students gathered in the library of the school where Northam stood at a podium to make the announcement. They all cheered when they saw their teacher be recognized by the incoming governor. 

Qarni helped to organize a candlelight vigil for 15-year-old Ruben Urbina outside Prince William County Government Center in October. Urbina was shot and killed by Prince William police after police said he wielded a three-foot-long crowbar at them and ignored commands to drop the weapon.

Qarni has also organized multiple mock elections for students at Beville Middle School in an effort to impress upon students the importance of civic participation.

OmniRide aims to rebrand, improve image

 

Commuter bus agency to drop PRTC moniker

There’s OmniRide. That’s the commuter bus service that each weekday takes people from Prince William County and Manassas to Arlington and Washington, D.C. and then back again.

Then there’s OmniLink. Those are the local buses that serve stops within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

OmniMatch is a commuter ride-finding service.

And, it all falls under the umbrella of one of the longest agency names in the region: The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission commonly referred to as PRTC.

Confused?

Prince William County’s transportation agency, PRTC, recognizes it has an identity crisis. And it’s doing something about it.

The agency is undergoing what Executive Director Robert “Bob” Schneider called a “brand renewal strategy.” The commuter bus service plans to ditch “PRTC” and instead be known simply as “OmniRide,” putting it in line with other area transportation agencies with one-name monikers like Fredericksburg’s “Fred,” Alexandria’s “DASH,” and Metro.

“We want to take a look at how to do we make ourselves more approachable and accessible to the community,” said Schneider.

It’s part of an overall effort to make the transit agency more of a commuter bus company, but more of a transit leader for the region, which could pave the way for its involvement in the future of ridesharing, or slugging, and a long-proposed Potomac River commuter ferry in Woodbridge.

The overall image of OmniRide would, hopefully, be one where the public no longer sees the agency as a drain on public resources but a partner in economic growth for the region.

Long known for its teal buses, new OmniRide buses could become a shade of green and blue. Its logo is expected to be modified, and it’s website updated.

As part of the rebranding, OmniRide wants to be known for:

  • Taking cars off Interstates 95 and 66
  • Being problem solvers
  • The people who get people to work and home faster
  • Providers of high-quality customer service

And since most products and services must have a tagline, OmniRide’s is “Get There Smarter.” That’s a change from the current slogan “The Ride That’s Right For You.” 

Schneider, who is relatively new to the transit agency, say’s he’d like to turn his 45-foot long commuter buses into billboards using a new color scheme to promote his agencies services.

The grey bus stop signs the dot roads in the county would also be updated. 

“Go and look at any of our bus stop signs and what do they say? ‘Bus stop.’ That’s it. There’s an opportunity to use those signs to brand us better,” said Schneider. 

Not everyone on the PRTC Board of Commissioners is excited.

“Do you think we should serve chocolate chip cookies, too?” quipped Jeanine Lawson, who sits on the Commission and also serves as the Prince William County Brenstville District Supervisor.

As OmniRide looks to transform its image, it also looks to consolidate its dispatch operations, and fix what it calls inefficiencies and redundancies by eliminating 12 jobs from the PRTC payroll and instead contract those positions to the company already contracted to drive OmniRide buses, First Transit, Inc.

In the midst of all of this, however, a letter obtained by the PRTC Board of Commissioners but not released claiming workplace discrimination has slowed the transformation process. This month, Commissioners said it could be February before an investigation into those claims is complete.

New ‘Breeze’ bus sells out in time for holiday travel to Dulles

We first told you about the new Virginia Breeze bus earlier this month. A first of its kind, the Breeze offers passenger bus service between Virginia Tech and Northern Virginia, to include Dulles Airport.

State officials today report tickets for the bus sold out.

From a press release: 

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is pleased to announce the December 21, 2017 Virginia Breeze intercity bus has SOLD OUT between Harrisonburg and Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD). DRPT will add an extra bus into service to meet high demand for holiday ground to air travel between Shenandoah Valley customers and IAD.

“The Virginia Breeze improves mobility choices for under-served communities by offering an alternative to driving along the congested Interstate 81 and 66 corridors, which need travel options,” said DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell. “Our first full bus for the two-week old service is testament to Virginians’ hunger for new travel options.”

The program is fully funded in part through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) 5311 Intercity Bus Program as well as ticket revenues. The Virginia Breeze provides a critical transportation connection between rural Virginia communities and the national bus network. Performance of this pilot route may also lead to expanded services along this route, as well as the addition of other travel corridors in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Breeze makes daily morning departures from the Virginia Tech Squires Student Center, located at 290 College Avenue in Blacksburg, at 8:00 a.m., and arrives at the Union Station – Washington, D.C. bus deck at 2:30 p.m. A second, southbound bus will depart Union Station at 9:20 a.m. daily, making the reverse trip arriving at the Squires Student Center by 3:40 p.m.

Additional stops along the Virginia Breeze route include:

• Christiansburg (Falling Branch Park & Ride)
• Lexington (Food Lion in Stonewall Square)
• Staunton (Martin’s on Richmond Avenue)
• Harrisonburg (Godwin Transit Center at JMU)
• Front Royal (Crooked Run VDOT Park & Ride)
• Dulles Airport (Curb 2E)
• Arlington (Kiss & Ride lot at the West Falls Church-VT/UVA Metrorail Station)

Featuring a modern 56-passenger coach with free Wi-Fi, in-seat power outlets, and other amenities, the Virginia Breeze will be operated in partnership with Dillon’s, a Coach USA company. Coach USA also owns Megabus. Virginia Breeze customers can purchase an interline ticket for Megabus destinations beyond Union Station, such as Philadelphia or New York.

The Virginia Breeze marks the first time a state has partnered with Megabus to provide interline ticketing options in the US. Ticket prices will vary based on the selected trip. Scheduling, route, and ticket information is online at www.catchthevabreeze.com. Tickets must be purchased online.

 

Manassas leaders approve plan to add longer third traffic lane

Would a third lane move more traffic on Sudley Road in front of Novant Prince William Hospital?

Manassas City officials think so, as the plan to build a new third lane in this area has been on the books since 2000. Now, city planners will go back to the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond to review some proposed changes for the $7.4 million project.

While the project was approved in 2015 and funded with state money, the Manassas City Council voted 5-1 on December 11 change the scope of the project. Planners first envisioned constructing a third lane on the northbound side of Sudley Road, from Impala Drive to just past Godwin Drive, across the city line into Prince William County.

The new lane would mirror a third lane that already exists on the southbound side of  Sudley Road in front of the hospital. The plan would have also called for the burial of power lines along the street.

But the effort to bury the lines is more expensive than extending the lane.

So, the City Council approved a new plan that would scrap the plans to bury power lines and instead construction a much longer third lane from Godwin Drive to Grant Avenue. The project would also bring a newly reconstructed sidewalk, new streetlights, a new fire hydrant, and relocated utility poles, and extended turn lanes at Sudley Road and Godwin Drive.

“This project won SmartScale funding from the state and, typically, these projects have to go back to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to be reviewed if we learn the project is going to cost more,” Michelle Brickner, a city engineer, told the Council. But this is more of an anomaly because it will cost less.”

Sending the item back to The Commonwealth Transportation Board to review at its January meeting is a courtesy. Any saved money will be returned to the state, not the city, and we’ll know just how much will be saved when the project designs are finished in 2018.

The project is still in the design phase. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and take two years.

The City Council approved the changes, it was the first time officials had learned about changes to the project. That sparked ire from elected leaders who asked why not only the measure was placed on the consent agenda for rapid approval, or the scope changes weren’t introduced at a previous meeting of the city’s land use committee, but why a public hearing on the changes had not been held.

Councilman Ken Elston voted for the scope changes, but said the undergrounding of power lines is important to economic development in the city and is part of the city’s overall “branding.”

“I am certainly in favor of additional capacity in transportation, there’s no question about that, but I am not in favor of what I think are large changes being ducked under the radar here, and not taking large, aesthetic changes seriously when it comes to branding our city,” said Elston.

Pamela Sebesky was the only dissenting vote and was assured by Brickner and City Manager Patrick Pate that the public would have the chance to comment on the matter after designs for the project are completed next year before work begins.

“The can come in and see, and they won’t have any assumptions. They can see how the designs will actually look,” said Pate.

Pate apologized for placing the matter on the consent agenda for the December 11 meeting. He told the Council he felt confident they would approve the measure given that the new third lane would connect with an existing lane on Sudley Road north of Godwin Drive that carries commuters to Interstate 66.

“If I just look at whether I spend the same amount of money, or slightly less, to get less congestion in the city and elongate three lanes which reduce that congestion in the city, and doesn’t spend money to underground lines in Prince William County… that seems to me to be a no-brainer,” said Mayor Hal Parrish II.

State officials to review need for new Haymarket power line in February

A date has been set in Richmond for a new State Corporation Commission hearing to determine if a new 10-mile, 234,000 kv powerline is needed in Haymarket.

From an email: 

“The State Corporation Commission has scheduled a public evidentiary hearing in Richmond at 10 a.m. on February 8, 2018 on the Haymarket Transmission Line Project.  An SCC Hearing Examiner will receive the testimony of public witnesses and evidence from Dominion Energy, the Commission staff and the parties in the case.  I have attached [PDF] the SCC ruling for your information.”

The new hearing is prompted by new evidence uncovered by the SCC after Dominion requested, and failed to get, cooperation with Prince William County to build the power line along the Carver Road alternative as opposed to the overhead route along Interstate 66.

“I find the SCC’s recent decision to re-open the case and include new testimony as to the questionable need a significant step forward in protecting the communities of western [Prince William County],” Jeanine Lawson told Potomac Local via email.

New evidence is expected to be entered into the record during the hearing by the applicant that wishes to build the new line, Dominion Energy. Some of that new evidence is changes to the proposed routes laid out by Dominion. 

Prince William County officials. the Somerset Crossing Home Owners Association, and Coalition to Protect Prince William have long opposed the proposed power line. The new line would run from the intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 223 Business) to a new Amazon-owned data center outside Haymarket.

Thieves hit a string of cars outside Haymarket golf club

Virginia State Police are calling for the public’s help for information on a crime that occurred just after Thanksgiving: 

From a press release: 

The Prince William County Police and Virginia State Police are seeking the public’s help with identifying the individuals in the attached surveillance photo. The two individuals are being sought in connection with a series of vehicle break-ins that occurred in a neighborhood in Haymarket during the early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2017.

On that morning, numerous reports were filed of vehicles parked on the street and in driveways in the Piedmont Golf Community having been broken into and various items missing. Among the vehicles broken into was an unmarked Virginia State Police car. A Department-issued firearm was taken from inside the locked vehicle.

Anyone with information about these individuals and/or the vehicle break-ins is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or #77 on a cell phone or sent by email to questions@vsp.virginia.gov. Tips can also be submitted to Prince William County Police Department at 703-792-5123 or by email at policedept@pwcgov.org.

21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival

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Can you hear the far off whistle? Can you feel the rumble as the train lumbers down the tracks?

Get ready! The 21st Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival is on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Historic Downtown Manassas. This is a family-friendly celebration of railroad history.

There will be live performances on two stages. Folsom Prisoners, Justin Trawick and High Grass Bluegrass Band are a few of the performers lined up for the day. Enjoy great food and lots to see and do. Take a train ride on the  a VRE train with a princess for $6 per person, or just peruse the memorabilia and the model trains under the Harris Pavilion.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, the inaugural trips of the 611 Steam Train will be rolling through the City. Norfolk & Western 611 will pull passengers from Manassas to Front Royal and back. This is part of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program.

Owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, 611 recently underwent a massive restoration after more than two decades in retirement. The Steam Engine will be available for photos near the Harris Pavilion after its Saturday trip. Tickets for both trips start at $109 and may be purchased online.

Whether you are a railroad enthusiast or just looking for something to do, this event is a great way to spend a Saturday.

On Friday, June 5, from 5 to 9 p.m. come to First Friday in Historic Downtown. The June First Friday features corn hole playing and corn hole tournaments throughout downtown, plus, great food and wonderful shops.

On Sunday, June 7, get ready for the Taste of Historic Manassas from noon to 4:30 p.m. This annual event transforms Historic Downtown Manassas into a lively festival with local entertainment and lots of great food. For more information on these and other events in the City of Manassas, go to visitmanassas.org.

Summer Concert Season Not Over Yet

KJ Mushung

By KJ MUSHUNG

It may be August but the summer concert season has shows well into September within easy driving distance and for a lot less than you might expect. But first, you’ll have to head south.

Fredericksburg
Celebrate Virginia Live
Celebrate Virginia Live has brought a wide variety of great performers to an area that didn’t used to host big name concerts. Residents of Fredericksburg are grateful not to have to drive to Richmond or D.C. for their entertainment. The good thing is neither do you.

Country music singer Trace Adkins plays tonight. Rocker Bret Michaels will perform Aug. 23. Tickets for that show start at just $18.50 for general admission but go up to $100 for platinum, ear-bleeding seats.

Richmond
There are multiple options for concerts in the Richmond vicinity. Two of the best are Innsbrook After Hours at the Snagajob Pavilion and the Groovin in the Garden series held at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

Innsbrook After Hours
The Band Perry is slated to perform Aug. 21 with tickets going from $30 to $60. Classic rocker and former Richmonder Pat Benatar (with Neil Giraldo) will kick it in gear Aug. 28 for $20 to $40 per ticket.

In September, country music fills the bill with Darius Rucker on Sept. 5 and Montgomery Gentry on Sept. 19. Tickets for those shows start at approximately $20 and run up to $60 and can be purchased at TicketsToBuy.com, which is a reputable locally-owned ticket-selling company.

Groovin in the Garden
This concert series is unique in that it takes place at a pavilion on the grounds of the botanical gardens. Although you must bring your own chair or blanket (unless you purchased Gold Circle seating), there are some benches just out of sight but within full hearing range of the pavilion. As with Innsbrook After Hours, there are food and t-shirt vendors set up. But really, you get to watch great performers create music in one of the most beautiful settings. And if the weather’s great that night, bonus!

One caveat, all these shows for all the venues listed here are outdoors and held rain or shine.

Fortunately, the weather held up nicely for this week’s performance. Virginia native Bruce Hornsby performed in the beautiful setting of the gardens Tuesday night. Railroad Earth opened. The show included surprises such as a rap by Hornsby’s son, Russell, a jam with opening band Railroad Earth and a version of Mandolin Rain not heard before the tour.

The event was a Music For Massey benefit concert.

The series’ next show will be Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn on Sept. 25. Tickets cost from $28 to $50 for that show and can be purchased at TicketsToBuy.com.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket (maybe an umbrella) and enjoy some superb music by some great performers.

Easy drives, low ticket prices, a chance to get friends together and go out before the summer’s gone. What’s stopping you?

Virginia native Bruce Hornsby jams with opening band Railroad Earth in the beautiful setting of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens on Aug. 6, 2013, in Richmond as part of the Groovin in the Garden series. (KJ Mushung/PotomacLocalNews.com)

Virginia native Bruce Hornsby jams with opening band Railroad Earth in the beautiful setting of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens on Aug. 6, 2013, in Richmond as part of the Groovin in the Garden series. (KJ Mushung/PotomacLocalNews.com)

Hendrick Honda Starts Backpack Drive

Volunteer Opportunities Across the Area

Good morning – Congratulations and thank you to all the volunteers who joined us last week at the 30th Annual Community Volunteer Recognition event. It was a great day and we are most appreciative to Congressman Gerry Connolly for taking the time to enter the names of over 1,900 local volunteers into the Congressional Record of the 113th Congress. Many thanks and Cheers to all!

· Hendrick Honda in Woodbridge has started their Annual Fill A Backpack program to help kids at Potomac View Elementary start the new school year with all supplies necessary to be successful in school. You can drop off backpacks with age appropriate supplies such as wipes, glue sticks, crayons, pencils, notebooks and other fun things at Hendrick Honda and they will give you a voucher for a $19.95 oil change. It’s a win-win for all. Please check out their website at: hendrickauto.com for more info.

· Northern Virginia Family Service is looking for volunteers to provide short-term foster care for children. The next foster parent training begins July 13th from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The training will provide you all the necessary tools to give a child warmth and security for this short period. Foster parents must be at least 21-years-old and complete a home study. To learn more and register for the training please call Ginny at (571) 748-2557 or via email at: gsnaider@nvfs.org.

· SERVE is still looking for a few volunteers to work the front desk in all 3 buildings weekdays with either the 9am-1pm shift or the 1-5 p.m. shift. Come be the welcome face to greet visitors, field phone inquiries and process clients for assistance. Please email Jan at:jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more.

· Literacy Volunteers of America is gearing up for their next volunteer training on July 13th. No experience needed as you will learn all the skill needed at the trainings and ongoing support. Be a tutor and mentor to another adult in their journey to gain more reading skills. Please call them today at (703) 670-5702 to learn more.

· Independence Empowerment Center is hosting its annual ADA Fair on Saturday, July 13 at the Harris Pavilion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Come out and celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act and learn about assistive technology, service animals, and more. There is still room for vendors. Contact Amanda at 703-257-5400.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for a friendly visitor for a young lady in Manassas. She loves to do crafts and scrapbooking with her aide. This is a wonderful opportunity for a scout troop to do several times or weekly. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext. 232 to learn more.

· The ACTS Employment Program is currently accepting applications for their Free Nurse Aide Training Class. You must live in PW County, have a high school diploma or GED, be low income- 30% of AMI and pass drug screen, TB test and background check. Classes start July 25th with evening and Saturday classes and are truly the step up for so many citizens. Please call Rachel at (703) 441-8606 ext. 208 to learn more.

· House of Mercy in Manassas needs Korean translators. One could work offsite translating text for flyers and pamphlets. The second position is to assist on site as interviewer and establishing relationships with elderly immigrants. Please email Ann at:help@houseofmercyva.org for more info

· Birmingham Green Nursing Home in Manassas needs a Korean speaking gentleman to be a friendly visitor to a resident who only speaks Korean. Come by for an hour or so each week to brighten this gentleman’s day. Please Call Zach at (703) 257-6252 to learn more.

· New Creatures in Christ Ministries Food Pantry in Woodbridge needs volunteers to help Tuesday evenings 5-7 p.m. and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am-2pm. Teen volunteers are very welcome as they are gearing up for a busy summer supporting families from 2 elementary schools so the kids continue with healthy meals for the summer. Please call Josephine at (703) 409-3022 for more info.

· The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) needs senior volunteers age 55 and older to provide transportation for a veteran to get to their local doctor’s appt. All vets are referred to us by Aging and you’ll have lots of advance notice for their appts. It’s also not too early to sign up to tutor kids in grades K-3 in reading and math next school year. Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207 for more info.

· Fancy Cats Rescue Team needs volunteers for many positions as it is the kitten time of year. These include; adoption coordinators, caregivers, admin help, drivers, event planners and youth volunteers are very welcome. Please call (703) 961-1056 for more information or via email at: volunteer@fancycats.org

· BEACON Adult Literacy Program needs volunteers in the Manassas area to teach ESL, adult basic Ed, citizenship and conversation. Prior experience is not needed as the free training will give you all the skills needed to be successful. Volunteers may teach either mornings or evenings once or twice a week. Enjoy your summer and start in the fall. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at  volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Davidson: Sophie Howls When Windows Open

My beloved dog Sophi couldn’t be a better pet, except when I open the kitchen windows.

Then and only then does she start barking uncontrollably. I have not figured out why she does this, but I have found a cure. If I am cooking something that usually causes my stove to smoke and I need to air out the kitchen, (it happens more often than I care to say) Sophi alerts the whole neighborhood.

The other morning, the weather was so nice I thought I’d try to let some fresh cool air in, so I opened the kitchen windows. Sure enough, she started howling and barking loud enough to wake the neighbors.

After unsuccessfully asking her to please shush, I remembered one very unique thing about my Chocolate Lab — she hates water.This is unusual for the breed, but worked out splendidly in this case.

A quick spray from the sink sprayer and not another peep!

A note to anyone that thinks that is a cruel and unusual punishment: Every dog should get a bath.

Alborn: Option to Expand Chinn Center Remains, Why the Discussion about a Swimming Pool in a High School?

Explain this to me. As a Prince William County taxpayer, I just don’t get it.

In 2006, Prince William County Government requested that its residents support a significant bond issue to fund road improvements, park improvements, and new libraries. A well executed public relations program was conducted by the county to educate the public, and ask for their support on a referendum.

You may read the details in an excellent Prince William County Newsletter Special Edition: Information on the 2006 Bond Referendum Questions.

I’m interested in the Parks Bond Referendum at the moment (although I have asked Prince William County for information on the status on all three Bond Referendums that were approved in 2006: road improvements, park improvements, and new libraries.)

If you dig a bit deeper, you will find the excellent staff presentation given on June 20, 2006 at the meeting of the Board of County Supervisors where the proposed bonds were discussed. I invite your attention to the 2006 Bond Referendum for Parks, Item 6-W – Work session for the Library, Park, and Road Bond Referendum.

To summarize the presentation given to the Board, work begun on the Bond Referendum for Parks in 2002 when the then Prince William County Park Authority Board commissioned a Citizen Recreational Demand Survey. In 2003, the Board of County Supervisors adopted a Comprehensive Plan which set goals on how parks and open space would be used in Prince William.

2004 – 2006 Studies: We need more swim facilities 

In 2004, citizen focus groups were convened to identify recreation issues and concerns, resulting in a Strategic Issue Analysis. Also that year, the County Capital Improvement Plan was updated to include projected future park bonds in six year intervals. In 2005-2006, the Park Authority convened meetings with user groups to refine and update the recreational needs analysis.

MORE to the STORY: See seven-year-old documents detailing a planned expansion of the Chinn Park Aquatics and Fitness Center

The end result was “Prince William County needs to expand indoor Recreation Facilities.” It proposed to do this by adding on or renovating existing facilities where possible, and elected leaders were briefed with a design concept and plans to expand the Chinn Center Aquatics and Fitness Center in Lake Ridge.

The processes in developing the 2006 Bond Referendum was incredibly well done. It stands as an example of transparent budget.

The $27 million park improvement package was approved with nearly 76 percent of the vote. So, why do I suddenly care about the 2006 Bond Referendum for Parks?

Chinn Center Expansion Forgotten? 

I would like to know what happened to the proposed expansion of the Chinn Center? Why exactly are we talking about floating a new bond, or adding value to a proposed bond, to build a pool in the county’s 12th high school when we have authority to take on debt and expand an existing facility?

Why exactly are we ignoring the will of the public, and perhaps using this as a path to put the entire pool in a school conversation to rest?

The bond has been approved, and according to Prince William County spokesman Jason Grant, “A voter bond referenda allows the Board to elect to issue debt for up to 10 years from the time it is approved by the voters. So, all three of the 2006 bond referenda will expire in 2016.”

I’m sorry; however, the rhetoric I read regarding funding pools in schools from some of our elected officials and Prince William County employees reminds me of the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” People are lobbying for a new pool in a school when Prince William County already has the authority and the support of the community to raise money through a bond to expand an existing pool.

Why exactly does the Prince William County School Board want to get into the pool business when Prince William County Parks Department has the experience, the facilities, and the authority to raise money to expand?

2006 Bond an example of good public relations 

The 2006 public relations campaign to educate the public on Prince William County’s desire to raise money through bonds is a textbook example of good governance and citizen involvement. The 2013 discussion to build a pool in a school is perhaps, well, not so much.

As a taxpayer, I strongly suggest Prince William County Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and Prince William County School Board Chairman Milt Johns to take a breath, take a look at not only the authority they already have to finance additional swimming facilities,but also the process used to gain that authority. The public voted (literally), and they want the Chinn Center Aquatics and Fitness Center swimming facility expanded.

Perhaps its time to give the public what it wants, and what it voted for in 2006. Stewart and Johns should also perhaps examine the process used to educate the public, gain its support for the 2006 Bond referendums, and eventually gain voter approval.

If the School Board plans to press on with plans for a pool in a school, perhaps there’s some lessons to be learned. Should the School Board decide to press on with plans for putting a pool in a school, I suggest that the public debate over the issue strongly suggests that the public should weigh in using the referendum process.

Explain this to me. Please.

Volunteer Opportunities Across the Area

Good morning – Keep Prince William Beautiful needs 5 volunteers on Tuesday June 25 from 9 a.m.- noon to perform the annual litter survey. It’s a fun learning experience. Please call Anna at (571) 285-3772 to learn more.

· SERVE is still looking for a few volunteers to work the front desk in all three buildings weekdays with either the 9 a.m.-1 p.m. shift or the 1-5 p.m. shift. Come be the welcome face to greet visitors, field phone inquiries and process clients for assistance. Please email Jan at: jhawkins@nvfs.org to learn more.

· Literacy Volunteers of America is gearing up for their next volunteer training on July 13. No experience needed as you will learn all the skill needed at the trainings and ongoing support. Be a tutor and mentor to another adult in their journey to gain more reading skills. Please call them today at (703) 670-5702 to learn more.

· Independence Empowerment Center is hosting its annual ADA Fair on Saturday, July 13 at the Harris Pavilion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Come out and celebrate the a.m.ericans with Disabilities Act and learn about assistive technology, service animals, and more. There is still room for vendors. Contact Amanda at 703-257-5400.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for a friendly visitor for a young lady in Manassas. She loves to do crafts and scrapbooking with her aide. This is a wonderful opportunity for a scout troop to do several times or weekly. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext. 232 to learn more.

· The ACTS Employment Program is currently accepting applications for their Free Nurse Aide Training Class. You must live in Prince William County, have a high school diploma or GED, be low income, and pass drug screen, TB test and background check. Classes start July 25 with evening and Saturday classes and are truly the step up for so many citizens. Please call Rachel at (703) 441-8606 ext. 208 to learn more.

· House of Mercy in Manassas needs Korean translators. One could work offsite translating text for flyers and pamphlets. The second position is to assist on site as interviewer and establishing relationships with elderly immigrants. Please email Ann at: help@houseofmercyva.org for more info

· Birmingham Green Nursing Home in Manassas needs a Korean speaking gentleman to be a friendly visitor to a resident who only speaks Korean. Come by for an hour or so each week to brighten this gentleman’s day. Please Call Zach at (703) 257-6252 to learn more.

· New Creatures in Christ Ministries Food Pantry in Woodbridge needs volunteers to help Tuesday evenings 5-7 p.m. and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Teen volunteers are very welcome as they are gearing up for a busy summer supporting families from two elementary schools so the kids continue with healthy meals for the summer. Please call Josephine at (703) 409-3022 for more info.

· The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) needs senior volunteers age 55 and older to provide transportation for a veteran to get to their local doctor’s appt. All vets are referred to us by Aging and you’ll have lots of advance notice for their appts. Please call Coleen at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207 for more info.

· Fancy Cats Rescue Team needs volunteers for many positions as it is the kitten time of year. These include; adoption coordinators, caregivers, admin help, drivers, event planners and youth volunteers are very welcome. Please call (703) 961-1056 for more information or via email at: volunteer@fancycats.org

· BEACON Adult Literacy Program needs volunteers in the Manassas area to teach ESL, adult basic Ed, citizenship and conversation. Prior experience is not needed as the free training will give you all the skills needed to be successful. Volunteers may teach either mornings or evenings once or twice a week. Enjoy your summer and start in the fall. Please call Caroline at (703) 368-7491 to learn more.

· If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Coleen can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 207, Shelley can help with any individual or group project and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 201, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 202. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at volunteerprincewilliam.org. Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

Mary Foley is the Director of Volunteer Prince William.

A Little Practice Allows for Cooking Outside the Lines

A Fresh Focus

I was sitting in the airport a few weeks ago during a long layover when I was lured into one of those stores that has everything from tacky souvenirs to gum and magazines. Since it had been a long day of travel, I decided to treat myself to a magazine for the plane.  Struck by the delicious looking pesto pasta on the cover, I decided to spring for Bon Appétit.

Flipping through Bon Appetit...

Flipping through Bon Appetit…

I flipped through the pages of food stories and recipes like a newly engaged woman would flip through a bridal magazine.  The vibrant colors of well-prepared veggies, desserts, and meats made me giddy. I felt compelled to start writing a grocery list immediately. Not to mention the kitchen tools I’d yet to acquire—yes, I have a food processor, but I’m still missing so many cooking necessities, like a mortar and pestle and a mandoline.

While I love food blogs, cookbooks, and magazines, I have long been afraid of branching out on my own to paint outside the lines of the given instructions and ingredients. I am so impressed by people who are able to do this, putting spices and flavors together in a way that tastes incredible.  I have visions of serving up a dish that I’d conceptualized and created entirely on my own, inspired by what I picked up at that weeks Farmer’s Market and any leftover ingredients sitting in my fridge. 

It wasn’t until I started cooking with friends that I learned that I could bravely change things up a bit.  Don’t have the cheese the recipe calls for? Well, use whatever cheese you have and see how it goes!  Think the batter looks a little thick? Add an extra splash of milk!  Worst case scenario of culinary creativity is an inedible product.  But most of the time, little changes to a recipe won’t make it so different that it turns out terrible.

Join us at the City of Manassas Farmers Market Thursdays at the Harris Pavilion and Saturdays in Parking Lot B (corner of West and Prince William Streets) from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

In the past, I had a Monday tradition of baking bread. Homemade bread is so delicious and definitely superior to the bread you can find at the store, which is typically loaded with preservatives.

After you practice doing anything enough, you start to understand subtle differences between when it’s going to turn out well and when it will be a little lackluster.  This applies to both bread, and cooking in general. When you better understand the subtleties of the produce, meat and flavors, you can easily get a little spontaneous with a good end product.  

So this is my goal for the year: Become so familiar with my favorite foods and flavors that I can cook outside the lines a little. I want to look at magazines like Bon Appétit for inspiration on how to make my own creation and only follow directions when something really grabs me. Wish me luck; I’m sure I’ll need it starting out, but the reality is, this is how amazing food is created.  I encourage you to take this journey with me and explore the Farmer’s Market for inspiration.  Ask our friendly vendors for help or suggestions and then create your own master pieces for you and your family to enjoy.

At the market the other day, someone asked me “Are you a chef? I see you here every week taking notes and buying things.” I laughed out loud, but was secretly flattered.  Perhaps this mistake is sending me some good culinary juju.  If you’re mistaken for a chef, maybe it’s just a matter of time before you become one…at least this is my hope.

Kotlus: College Funding Worries Prince William Graduates

Schools Blog

Finding funds to pay for college is no easy task, whether you have a college savings plan or if a student works through college and takes advantage of options at one of Virginia’s community colleges.

The topic on the minds of some of those who spoke at the Prince William County School Board meeting Wednesday night was financial literacy. As many in the U.S. struggle with credit card debt and mortgages, student loan debt also lands graduates, who’ve just turned their tassles, on a road to financial instability despite doing “the right thing” by going to school.

In fact, on Wednesdsay night, some students came to talk about just that topic. One recent graduate urged the school board to provide more money for scholarships because “Students shouldn’t have to worry about anything but grades.” Another noted her dreams of going to school in New York City encouraged her to look for others to help fund her college dreams because “loans can be a hassle”.

By the time students head off to college many should worry about a lot of things, including making responsible, adult decisions, that will pay off in the long run. For example, those who seek schools of choice just because its in a particular city may not be the best choice for students, according to a list recently released by Forbes.

The financial magazine recently ranked colleges with the best return on investment, noting that families need to approach higher education the same way they’d approach any major financial decision, with planning, logic, and an eye on overall value.

Potomac Local Launches Pets Page

As a child, I grew up living with dogs and cats in my house. In fact, there were so many German Shepherd dogs in many home I sometimes wondered if I was living in their house.

As pet owners, animals have found a special place in our hearts. We play with them, care for them, shop for them, and in turn, they help comfort and bring us joy.

But many animals in our community don’t have a place to call home. They don’t have a place to play, and most importantly, they have no one to love.

With the help of Steve’s Auto Repair in Woodbridge — an organization I have truly found to be “community minded” through our work with the Prince William County Boys and Girls Club, we’re proud to launch our Potomac Local Pets Page — a comprehensive guide to lost and found pets in our area, and pets up for adoption who need a good home.

Starting with the Stafford County SPCA, we plan to work with as many interested shelters, veterinary offices, and our readers to bring post as much information as we can about local pets deserving of a good home. I hope you check back often, and tell a friend about this new community resource.

Despite Special FX, Sci-Fi, ‘Man of Steel’ Comes Down to Fist Fights

“Man of Steel” has arrived, and trust me on this, he is one of the good guys.

We didn’t need another Superman. We have the comic books and I was raised on the 50’s TV show starring George Reeves. There were more TV shows and two separate movie re-boots. So it’s impossible to approach this movie without pre-conceived notions. I decided to just sit back and watch director Zack Snyder’s (Watchmen) version in the spirit of truth, justice and the American way.

It starts on the familiar pins of the Krypton destruction with baby Kal-El jettisoned toward earth. The foundation of hope is laid here in Krypton, just as it is on earth.

We give birth to a child and then send them out into the universe. As his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe of Gladiator) says, “My hopes and dreams travel with you.” Unfortunately, General Zod (Michael Shannon of Mud) and his henchmen are soon to follow.

Putting on the cape this time is Henry Cavill (The Cold Light of Day) as Kal-El/ Clark Kent/Superman. From this point on the audience, like Clark Kent, is on a new path. Gone are the cheeky cliché’s and winks at the past.

This is a story about family and a guy (I know, an alien, but stick with me) who is different. A guy who is not from here, who has to find his place and his purpose. He takes a big step when he meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams from Enchanted), a nosy reporter who will not let his story go. 

Everything would have been great if that General Zod had not shown up and claimed the earth. Sure, the movie sets Superman up as a Christ-like figure. And then he saves us, but that does not make him “the” savior. He’s just a guy that grew up here, and now belongs here, and does the right thing for what has become his home.

I am not qualified to critique the legend and lore that has been 75 years of Superman. But I do know a good movie when I see one. With themes of family and duty and life decisions, this movie has lots of sci-fi and special effects. It still bothers me that it comes down to fist fights. From John Wayne, to Star Trek to Superman, we have not moved past the guy with the best right cross wins.

In the end, this movie shows us what a guy can do with good parents and a girl that believes in him. I have been lucky that way myself. I give this movie 4 stars out of 5. If you can watch this movie and not be moved, then I think you may be made of steel.

Tom Basham is a Virginia filmmaker and writes BashMovies.

Class of 2017 T-Shirt, College Lunch Tickets on Mom’s Must-Have List

Mom on the Run

I have moved the postcard probably 100 times. It normally lies on the kitchen table, but because we’ve had company over recently – high school graduation brings out friends and family – it’s been moved around to make room for visitors and food. I’ve brought it back to the kitchen table, though, front and center, because it’s important, and has a deadline, and I didn’t want to find it too late.

Now, finally, graduation has come and gone, and it’s time to focus on college. I have memorized my son’s move-in date: August 23. That seems far in the future, but I know how quickly the summer will go. As it’s my second child leaving for college, I also know that there are lots of things due to the school between now and then. I haven’t been paying much attention, I wanted to get through graduation first, but there’s no more avoiding it.

First up, this postcard. I know it well, from all that moving around: “Limited Edition Class of 2017 Gear. Available for a very limited time. For students, for families, for anyone who has school pride!”

“Available for a very limited time” got my attention, of course. And “school pride.” Yes! Of course my son wants Limited Edition Class of 2017 Gear! Of course I want to get it for him! So I’ve saved the postcard. Carefully.

The first item offered: “Class of 2017 t-shirt. Every year a custom t-shirt is designed especially for the entering class of new students. This t-shirt is only available through this offer, don’t miss out!” Oh, a class t-shirt is definitely a must-have. And only available through this offer! I’m on it!

Next up: “Class of 2017 baseball cap. Weathered-look cap with embroidered logo on the front and ‘Class of 2017’ on back.” My son wears baseball caps. Often. And this is a limited edition too. Yup, another must-have.

Then, “Class of 2017 laundry bag. Durable black nylon mesh bag with drawstring. Logo screenprinted in white.” Oh, no, thank you. School pride? On a bag of dirty clothes? Nah.

Finally, “Parent and family lunch ticket. Parents and family members are encouraged to join their student for lunch on the first day of orientation.” Well, that seems like a requirement, right? Lunch with my kid? The last meal, before leaving him at school and going home to – choke – an empty nest?

Really, my decisions were made the first time I saw this postcard. There’s only one question: Do I need three lunch tickets, or four? Will my college-senior daughter be joining us at drop-off day? And that little question has stopped me from placing this order, and finally sending this postcard to its final recycling bin resting place.

So. Today. We’re all together, eating lunch, all four of us, holy cow, and for whatever reason I remember the postcard, and, “Oh!” I look at my daughter: “When are you going back to school?” “I don’t know.” “OK, when do classes start?” I get a shrug in response. “Right around September 1, right?” She shrugs again, this time with a little nod. “Are you going to come with us to drop your brother off at school? On August 23rd?”

Finally, an answer she knows. “Yes,” and she nods. Firmly. One nod. That was my guess; I didn’t think she would miss the big day. “OK, then, I’ll get four tickets to the lunch.”

“Wait,” she says, putting her hand up for emphasis. “The lunch by the college? On move-in day?” “Yeah,” I reply casually. “We can buy the tickets now.”

“No,” she says, emphatically. “He’s going to be eating at that cafeteria every day for the rest of the year. We’ll go somewhere nice for lunch that day. Off campus.” And she looks meaningfully across the table at her brother. 

“Just looking out for you, bro,” she tells him.

“Thanks,” he says, nodding.

“Oh,” I say, surprised and deflated. And being wrong on the orientation lunch makes me wonder about the t-shirt, and the baseball cap, and … nah. I’m still pretty sure about the laundry bag.

Alborn: Residents Losing Faith in VDOT over Bi-County Parkway

Opinion

When I heard about Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton’s uttering those words, I couldn’t believe it. When I heard it from multiple sources, I was shocked. I lost faith in Transportation Planning in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“You guys would never make it on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors; we live for bushwhacking people,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said, as quoted in GreaterGreater Washington.

Frankly, if the allegation that Connaughton actually made this statement in a public forum “for the record” (so to speak) is correct, I am surprised Governor Robert F. McDonnell didn’t fire Connaughton for making such a statement. It undermines residents’ trust in those appointed to be stewards of our lives and money, and discredits McDonnell’s entire administration.

Transportation planning is a math problem, and the math is complicated. The public must have full trust and confidence in the Virginia Department of Transportation before willingly giving up their lifestyle, their environment, and in some cases their homes, before signing up letting the bulldozers run a strip of asphalt through what used to be their home.

Right now, Prince William County residents don’t trust the math behind the proposed outer beltway project. That’s a problem.

For full disclosure, I was on the Prince William County 2013-2016 Strategic Planning Team. In the Strategic Plan we delivered, Transportation Strategy Number 5 was, “Take the leadership role to build the Va. 234 North Bypass (the “Road to Dulles”), a key connector road for the region, linking major economic development centers in Prince William County to Dulles International Airport.”

It was neither presented or discussed as a “cargo route to Dulles”. I believe that like the rest of the Planning Team (although I may only speak for myself), we considered the idea of a road that would help alleviate Northern Virginia’s traffic problem by giving commuters a new north-south route.

The assumption when agreeing to something like this is that the math will be honest, public input will be seriously considered, and community buy-in would be fundamental to moving forward to such a dramatic change to Prince William County, Virginia.

As a member of the Strategic Planning Team, I also stressed taking a systems view of Northern Virginia’s Transportation Problems. With today’s technology, Transportation Planning should include strategies to take people off the roads as part of the solution set.

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, Prince William, and Frank Wolf, R-Loudoun, Prince William, led the successful passage of the President’s Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which mandates that Government Agencies extend telework to all qualifying employees.

Connolly, a leader in telework thought and legislation, is contemplating how to expand telework to the Government Contracting community. Connolly gets this “taking people off the roads” thing.

Back in the Strategic Plan, you will find telework in Transportation Strategies 7, which states we should “coordinate the county’s organizational initiatives on teleworking, flexible schedules, and other means of reducing commuter trips with the state legislative agenda.” Number eight states “support and endorse federal, state, regional and local telecommuting efforts.”

Our transportation planners continue to build roads because that’s what they do. They collaborate with the people who build those roads because those are the folks who are organized and equipped to lay the asphalt, and profit from it.

Perhaps its time to add some technology planners to the transportation planning mix, and redefine the problem we are trying to solve.

I would suggest that its time to stop thinking solely about moving people to the information that they need to do their job by laying more asphalt, and start incorporating strategies to move information to the people who need it wherever they may be.

This would mean bring a new set of technology players to the market. It would also mean new, high technology jobs, increased technology sales and services opportunity, and perhaps retrofitting Northern Virginia for the 21st Century instead of always defaulting to the way we use to do things.

Under the McDonnell Administration, trust and confidence in Northern Virginia transportation planning is gone. There have been too many mis-communications, mis-representations, questions, and confusing facts to allow this project to proceed in the current political and public climate. It’s locked into the “build more roads” mindset while dismissing technology opportunities to take people off the roads.

We need a reset. I strongly suggest McDonnell intercede quickly put a stop to any planning for the outer beltway under his administration. Anything that impacts Prince William County this much, literally changes its character and the lives of its residents forever, should seriously consider those in its path. By the way, everyone who ever uses or lives anywhere near Va. 234 between U.S. 1 and Dulles lives in its path.

We need a “different kind of” Secretary of Transportation, and a new way of defining just what problem we are trying to solve. It’s not about moving lots of folks around twice a day. It’s about connecting people with the information they need to do their job.

That doesn’t necessarily require a road, or a car, or the expenses associated with either. It does require a systems view of the problem, and a break from the “roads are always the answer” mindset.

Perhaps transportation Planning for major initiatives in Northern Virginia should simply be suspended until the next Governor is sworn in, and a new Virginia Secretary of Transportation is selected. Something that changes the lives of Prince William County residents so profoundly can wait a few months for a new set of eyes.

Vexed About Pool Parking

After a long, somewhat chilly spring it’s finally summer. But not just summer – it’s the start of Beach Week. And if you’re reading this, then you are probably stuck in weekend getaway traffic and so bored you’re surfing the web on your over-priced phone.

I don’t blame you.

Traffic’s a given. That’s why I don’t go out of town just after school lets out for the summer. But I do go to the pool, and that’s why I’m vexed.

Every year on the busiest days, from the moment the swimming pool opens, some inconsiderate people double park in the already crowded pool parking lot. Yeah, I’m talking to you in the silver sedan with the Department of Defense parking sticker.

Thanks to you, Mr. Doubleparker, I have to park down the hill on the street and carry my family’s pool equipment. But it’s not just towels, swimming noodles, sunscreen, floats, boogie boards and the like that I have to haul. I also must load a heavy baby in his heavy car seat on top of a heavier stroller, which I have to push with my elbow, while calling out to my other child and his friend to please help out. But they’ve already run ahead, canon-balling into the water while yelling “Marco” and “Polo.”

Therefore, I have no choice but to destroy you with laser beams that I imagine shooting out of my eyes as I finally make it up the hill and pass your smugly double-parked car. Please forgive me as I envision another car parking next to yours and dinging the door because you’re way over the white line. And don’t mind the flier I put under the windshield advertising parking lessons. I’m doing everyone a favor.

[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

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