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New Voting Cards in the Mail

Woodbridge, Va. — The recent decennial redistricting process has prompted Prince William officials to issue new voter cards.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA . . . New voter cards are being mailed this week to all registered voters in Prince William County. Due to the recent redistricting, many election district boundaries and polling places have changed. The new voter cards will have the updated information including election district and polling place locations.

Another option to determine your election district and polling place is through www.pwcgov.org/votinginfo. This interactive tool will instantly give the correct election district and polling place location based on the address you supply.

The Republican Party will hold a primary on August 23, 2011 to select its candidates for the November General Election in the following races:

Board of CountySupervisors in Brentsville, Coles, and Gainesville districts, State Senate in Districts 13, 36, and 39 and House of Delegates in District 87.

The deadline to register to vote in the Primary Election has already passed. There will be no Democratic Primary this year.

To find out if you are currently registered to vote and what will be on the ballot in your polling place, visit www.sbe.virginia.gov/.

For more information, contact Voter Registration at 703-792-6470. The address is 9250 Lee Avenue, Suite 1, Manassas, VA 20110. Email questions can be sent to voterinquiry@pwcgov.org.

-Press release

New Quantico High School Plans Dependent Upon Funding

The Iwo Jima statue greets visitors to Quantico Marine Corps Base in Triangle. (Mary Davidson)

Quantico, Va. — A plan to replace Quantico Middle / High School is in place, now it’s up to congress to provide the money.

In addition to Quantico Middle / High School, over the course of the next five years, the Department of Defense has plans to consolidate Russell Elementary School, Ashurst Elementary School and Burrows Elementary School at Quantico into one new elementary school facility.

All of the projects are dependent on additional congressional funding, as more than $400 million has already been allocated this year by congress to begin improving or replacing DOD schools.

In a report to congress in 2008, Department of Defense officials found 69 percent of schools located on military bases and installations (134 schools) to be safe but poor or failing condition

“A ‘poor’ indicator means routine and normal scheduled maintenance is insufficient to sustain the major infrastructure building components and a major investment is required to address facility deficiencies in order to bring the existing facility up to a DOD acceptable condition rating. A ‘failing’ indicator means that it is more cost effective to replace the facility than to continue investing in repair and maintenance,” according to information provided by Department of Defense Education spokeswoman Elaine Kanellis.

The school replacement plans come as a letter signed by Virginia Senator Mark Warner, and 11 other senators, was sent to Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urging for more money to repair or replace schools for military children.

According to the letter, more than 86,000 children attend schools on military campuses, many of which are in need of repair.

Tips to Beat Excessive Heat

As the mercury continues its climb toward the century mark,  officials are warning residents to do everything they can to keep cool.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch from noon today until 8 p.m. Thursday. With temperatures forecast to reach the mid to upper 90s Wednesday afternoon, heat index values (what it feels like outside when the humidity is factored in with the heat) are expected between 100 and 110 degrees.

The hot weather will remain in place for the remainder of the week, with temperatures hovering in the mid 90s to 100 degrees, according to the weather service.

Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Mark Doyle issued tips to help you beat the heat:

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

More to the Story: Check out PotomacLocal.com’s Pool Guide 2011 to find a place near you to cool off.

Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

  • Infants and young children
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who have a mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If you must be out in the heat:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Avoiding dehydration is essential signs of dehydration may include: Thirst, Dry or sticky mouth, Headache, Muscle cramping, Irritability, Extreme fatigue, Weakness, Dizziness, and Decreased performance. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15.

 

Extreme Heat Coming

Remember when the weather for the first part of this past weekend was relatively cool for summertime in the Potomac Communities: fair-weather clouds, a nice summer breeze and temperatures in the 80s? Now try and forget about it.

The forecasted heat index values this week should rise above the 100 degree mark, and it all begins Monday with forecasted temps in the 90s and a code orange air quality alert.

The outside air Monday may become unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children, seniors and those with heart and lung diseases, according to the National Weather Service.

Bottom line: stay indoors in the air conditioning if you can and avoid strenuous activity.

Over the next six days, expect a similar summertime weather pattern: extreme heat with the chance of afternoon and overnight thunderstorms.

Those 100-degree heat index values are forecast to kick in Thursday, while showers and thunderstorms could affect the Potomac Communities overnight tonight into Tuesday, according to the weather service.

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Heat Advisory in Effect

James Fitzgerald and Brandon Corey load up the ice bins at Kangaroo Express on Va. 610 in North Stafford. They’ve had to use a bigger truck to keep up with demand that has more than doubled due to the unusually hot weather. (File Photo / Mary Davidson)

Call it another summer scorcher, as a heat advisory will go into effect from noon until 8 p.m.

Temperatures will hover in the middle 90s but heat index values (what it feels like when you factor in the heat and humidity) will be between 100 and 105, according to the National Weather Service.

This is the second of two very hot days in the Potomac Communities, and the last one we’ll have to deal with this week, according to the forecast.

In order to get through today’s hot weather, officials urge everyone to reduce strenuous outdoor activities until the early morning or late evening, wear light weight and loose fitting clothes and drink lots of water. Finding a cool, air conditioned place to spend the day in is also suggested.

On Wednesday, temperatures will fall into the upper 80s and into the low 80s on Thursday, according to the weather service.

Storms Possible Before Fireworks

An overcast afternoon could lead to some summer storms this Independence Day.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for Stafford County and points south until 10 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

At 5 p.m., doppler radar indicated a large area of rain moving from west to east that could affect the Potomac Communities before many of the fireworks shows in the region are set to begin at 9 pm.

For the latest weather updates from PotomacLocal.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

One Killed, Power Out After Storms

Powerful storms rolled through the Washington area Sunday night killing one and leaving hundreds in the Potomac Communities without power.

The unidentified storm victim was riding his bicycle along the C&O Canal in Montgomery County, Md. and was struck by a tree, reports the Washington Post.

Closer to home, about 600 Dominion Virginia customers in the Brooke and Widewater areas of Stafford County had their power knocked out. About 300 Dominion customers in the Dumfries area lost their power.

There were 498 NOVEC customers in Prince William County with power out about 10:30 p.m. and four customers in Stafford with their power out, according to the utility’s website.

The storms contained heavy downpours and lightening, and came after flirted with the low 90s across the region. The high temperature at Quantico measured 88 degrees at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The weather service has issued an air quality alert for Independence Day, as temperatures are expected to rise into the 90s. The air is expected to become unhealthy for children, older adults and those who suffer from asthma.

Those who may be sensitive to poor air quality conditions are urged to stay indoors tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

Drivers Face Long Delays

Drivers make a hasty entrance to Interstate 95’ High Occupancy Vehicle lanes near Potomac Mills.

Woodbridge, Va. –– Traffic headed south on Interstate 95 in Virginia has been backed up since 11:30 a.m.

A crash just south of Lorton snarled traffic between from the Occoquan River all the way to the Capital Beltway, and there are no signs traffic is easing as many commuters are making a break for the long holiday weekend.

The delays along the highway were so bad about 2 p.m. some drivers chose to drive off the highway, into a median and access the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes near Potomac Mills mall.

Anticipating afternoon crowding, Virginia Railway Express will add additional cars to Fredericksburg line train #303 leaving Washington’s Union Station at 3:35 p.m., and will also add more cars to Manassas line train #327 departing Union Station at 4:25 p.m.

The commuter railroad reminded riders Friday there will be no service Monday in observance of Independence Day.

July 4th Get There Guide

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Interstate 95 / 395 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes

  • HOV restrictions on I-66, I-95 and I-395 will be lifted on Monday, July 4. Normal HOV restrictions will be in place on Friday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 5.
  • Northbound/southbound schedule for the I-95/395 reversible lanes: Lanes will be southbound from 1 p.m., Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday; and northbound from 4 p.m. Saturday through 7:30 p.m. Monday. On Monday, the lanes will be northbound until 7:30 p.m., and southbound from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Tuesday. The lanes will re-open northbound by 3 a.m. July 5.
  • July 4 event traffic: To accommodate travelers attending Fourth of July events in Washington, the Virginia Department of Transportation will coordinate and adjust signal timings at approximately 116 signalized intersections along major arterial roads, including U.S. 1, 29, 50 and Va. 7, 123, 236 and 244. Signals will be timed to help move traffic into the District during the day and then south and west from the city between 9:30 p.m. and midnight.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

  • Drivers are urged to travel to Maryland’s eastern shore / Ocean City, Md., Deleware Beaches using the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during off-peak times, before 2 p.m. Friday, before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. Saturday, before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m. Sunday.

Hampton Roads / Virginia Beach / Outer Banks, N.C.

Metro

  • The transit system says they’ll be geared up to handle the increased volume of riders on Independence Day.
  • Click here to see the Metro’s full service schedule for Monday.
  • The Smithsonian station on the Blue and Orange lines will be closed until after the conclusion of the fireworks display on the National Mall. Metro urges riders trying to get downtown to see the fireworks to use Farragut North, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives Navy Memorial, Union Station or Judiciary Square stations.
  • All regularly scheduled track work for Monday has been canceled due to the anticipated volume of riders.

Virginia Railway Express

  • No service Monday

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission OmniRide, OmniLink

  • No service Monday

July 4th Holiday Weekend Events Guide

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Friday, July 1

  • Fabulous Fridays at Waterworks Waterpark in Dale City will be feature a “Happy Birthday USA” theme and includes food specials, giveaways and games from 5 to 9 p.m. when the park closes.
  • Not ready to be decked out in red, white, and blue quite yet? The Potomac Nationals 7:05 p.m. game will have a “Star Trek Night” promotion.

Saturday, July 2

  • Leesylvania State Park hosts their monthly Kid’s Fishing Tournament beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the marina. Children do not need game licenses, but adults who plan to “help hold the rod” should be sure to have one. Participants are encouraged to bring their own supplies.
  • Kick back and celebrate early with the Arts and Stripes Picnic at the Lorton Workhouse. The picnic is a free event, but a $5 donation is suggested. Parking will be available on site to picnic-goers who are asked to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. The event begins at 2 p.m. Entertainment will include interactive art demonstrations, the Navy Commodores, New Dominion Choraliers, and a keynote from Congressman Gerry Connolly.
  • At 3 p.m., head to the Spotsylvania Courthouse for the “Spotsylvania Stars and Stripes Spectacular” which will feature live music, fire trucks, children’s activities, pony rides and more. Admission is free, but some activities have an additional fee. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and plan to stay late for the fireworks display at 9:25 p.m. once the sun goes down. Avoid the crowds at the courthouse parking lot and use the free shuttle from Courtland High School for the least hassle.
  • Join the Potomac Nationals for their “History of Baseball” night featuring vintage jersey auction, bobbleheads for the first 1,000 fans and fireworks after the game, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Special tickets are available that include an all-you-care-to-eat picnic style dinner before the game.

Closed Saturday: Prince William County Neighborhood Libraries

Sunday, July 3

  • It’s everyone’s favorite mascot’s birthday, and Uncle Slam plans to celebrate in style. Special tickets are available that include an all-you-care-to-eat picnic dinner before a 6:35 p.m. Potomac Nationals game, which will feature mascots from around the area. After the game, be sure to stick around for fireworks!
  • The Village Anniversary Laser Show on the Spotsylvania Town Center Village Green will include patriotic music with neon light accompaniment and sneak previews of the upcoming shows at the Riverside Dinner Theatre. The events start at 6 p.m. and admission is free.

Closed Sunday: Prince William County neighborhood and regional Libraries

Monday, July 4

  • The Dale City Independence Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. Dale Boulevard will be reduced from four to two lanes between Mapledale Avenue and Minnieville Road beginning at 8 a.m. Drivers should use alternate routes to avoid backups. The parade will feature between 150 and 200 floats and civic groups, and is being Grand Marshaled by hometown hero Marine Corporal Joshua Himan. Parking lots at Beville Middle and the Dale City Boys and Girls Club, and Center Plaza will be closed for event use, but any other plaza along the parade route may be used for parade viewing. The Center Plaza commuter lot will be the site of the annual Family Fun Day that follows the parade until 2 p.m.
  • Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., celebrate our nation’s birthday at the home of one of its founding fathers! Ferry Farm in south Stafford will have period actors, games, food, live music and more including appearances by an actor portraying General George Washington who called Ferry Farm his home. Admission is $1 but military families with proper identification get in free.
  • Celebrate America with Old Town Manassas. Starting at 2 p.m. at the train depot in Old Town there will be rides for children, food concessions and a “red, white, and blue hayride.” Bring your lawn chairs and blankets starting at 4 p.m. to get seats at the Manassas Museum lawn for the 9:15 p.m. fireworks display –– one of the largest in Northern Virginia. Festivities also include Jay Henley and the Stone Brook Band at 4:30 p.m. at the Harris Pavilion.
  • Stafford’s Pratt Park will have a “July 4th Spectacular” beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing until the conclusion of their fireworks display. Food vendors will be available, but picnic dinners are encouraged, so be sure to bring a blanket or lawn chairs and plan to enjoy the evening full of music and fun.
  • Join the Potomac Nationals at 6:35 p.m. for the largest game of the season! Special tickets are available that include a picnic meal before the game, and be sure to stick around after the final pitch for a large fireworks show in honor of the 4th of July.

Closed Monday: Prince William County Government Offices, Prince William County courts, Prince William County Landfill, Prince William County Libraries, Dale City Recreation Center, Stafford government offices, Stafford Regional Landfill, Stafford Departments and Facilities, Stafford County courts.

Open Monday: Prince William County Fire and Rescue, Stafford County pools, Aquia Landing, Historic Port of Falmouth, Stafford Fire and Rescue, Stafford County Magistrate.

Museum, Pentagon Shooter Charged

Yonathan Melaku

The FBI has charged Yonathan Melaku in last fall’s shootings at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Pentagon.

The 22-year-old U.S. Marine reservist was arrested Friday at Arlington National Cemetery after police saw him inside the cemetery in during the overnight hours. Investigators feared he was carrying explosive, bomb-making material in a backpack he was carrying.

Inside the bag they found spent 9 millimeter ammunition shells, plastic bags with a powdery substance marked “5lbs” and “AN,” and several written statements referencing Al Queda, according to an affidavit released today by the FBI.

No one was injured Friday, or in the shooting spree last fall that included four military buildings in Northern Virginia.

Melaku is charged with two counts of knowingly using and carrying and discharging a firearm during relation to a crime of violence, according to court documents.

Melaku has been charged in the shootings at the Marine Corps museum and Pentagon because those government buildings sustained more than $1,000 in damage. He has been, however, linked to all of the shootings at military buildings last fall including Coast Guard recruiting center in Woodbridge and a Marine Corps recruiting center in Chantilly.

If convicted, Melaku faces a $1,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

The Marine Corps museum was targeted twice during the shooting spree in October. It became the first target on Oct. 17 and again on Oct. 29. Each time, the glass façade of the museum was shot causing more than $83,000 in damage, according to court documents.

Rezoning Will Allow Quantico Center Growth

(Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford, Va. –– County leaders passed a resolution Tuesday that will allow more urban development at the Quantico Corporate Center.

 

The newly approved rezoning encompasses a 15-acre area at the developing business complex off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) in Boswell’s Corner, just south of the Prince William County line. New office, hotel and retail establishments will now be allowed at the center –– which is one of four centers county leaders have identified urban growth areas.

“The more companies we can attract to our county, the more quality jobs we can offer to our citizens so that they can work in the community in which they live and enjoy a higher quality of life,” said Stafford Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Dudenhefer.

Developers of the corporate center complex also plan to extend Corporate Center Drive to Telegraph Road, allowing more drivers to access the complex from U.S. 1.

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors last year was advised by Quantico’s Commander, Col. Daniel Choike, that demolition ranges nearby Boswell’s Corner may hinder growth in the area.

Other areas in Stafford County identified for urban growth are the area at U.S. 1 and Courthouse Road, Falmouth and “Southern Gateway” off Warrenton Road (U.S. 17) and Interstate 95 in south Stafford.

The rezoning comes after officials in Prince William County identified the areas around Triangle and the National Museum of the Marine Corps as urban mixed use areas.

Work began in 2006 on a $49 million project to widen U.S. 1 between Joplin and Brady’s Hill roads. Businesses in the area were demolished to make way for utility relocation and a six-lane highway.

Planners have long-envisioned a village-like development with shops, small businesses and homes.

The widening project is slated to end in March.

New Lane Opens on 95

(File) Drivers travel past the Pohick Road overpass at Lorton on the new fourth lane that opened Friday on Interstate 95 in Fairfax County. (VDOT)

Woodbridge, Va. –– The project to widen Interstate 95 between the Occoquan River and Fairfax County Parkway has reached another milestone.

Motorists will soon enjoy shorter travel times from Prince William County into Fairfax County after the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) opens an additional northbound lane of Interstate 95 across the Occoquan River on Friday, June 17.

This portion of the northbound lanes stretches 2.5 miles from Route 123 to the Route 1. It is part of the final phase of the I-95 widening project.  

“This northbound lane will play a big role with the morning rush hour traffic, said H.S. Warraich, VDOT project manager. “We’ll open the southbound side in a few weeks and commuters will notice immediately,” Warraich added.

By July 4, weather permitting, the southbound lane will open, but for the remainder of the summer, crews will still be finishing up soundwalls and landscaping but will be out of the travel lanes so there will be minor traffic impacts.

The $123 million I-95 Widening project runs approximately six miles from the Fairfax County Parkway to Route 123 in Prince William County. Construction of the three-phased project began in 2008. Phase I, the northbound lane from the Route 1 on-ramp to the parkway, was completed in December 2009. Phase II was the southbound lane from the parkway to the Furnace Road overpass. It was completed in October 2010. For more information, go to VAmegaprojects.com.

-Press release

HOV Violators Targeted

Taking the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on Interstate 95 Tuesday? Make sure your car has three or more occupants.

Virginia State Police along with other agencies are cracking down on those who violate the HOV laws as part of a stepped up enforcement effort, Capital HOV Awareness Day.

Police will be out in force during both the morning and evening rush hours driving the length of the lanes as well as sitting along the highway trying to spot violators, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The enforcement methods will shift throughout the morning and evening to avoid traffic backups.

While vehicles on HOV lanes on I-95 and 395 must have three or more occupants, vehicles on I-66 must have two occupants to use the lanes.

Police in Maryland will also step up enforcement on their HOV lanes, on I-270 and the John Hanson Highway (U.S. 50).

During the special HOV enforcement last year, police issued 2,300 summons and arrests over the two-day enforcement period, said Geller.

Dudenhefer: PWC, Stafford Share Common Problems

Stafford Sheriff Charles E. Jett (left) and Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates (right) introduces Mark Dudenhefer (center) who vying to fill the seat of Virginia’s 2nd House District seat. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

North Stafford, Va. –– He described it like a summer afternoon in his native Louisiana, where hot days give way afternoon storms that bring heavy rain.

But as showers cleared, from a soggy tent Saturday afternoon at the Quantico Corporate Center in North Stafford, that county’s top elected official announced he is seeking a promotion. Mark Dudenhefer wants to be the next member of Virginia’s House of Delegates in the 2nd District, filling a seat that was shifted this spring to the Potomac Communities from Southwest Virginia during the decennial redistricting process.

Serving on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors since 2006 and its chairman since 2010, the Republican noted he helped to pass the county’s first comprehensive development plan in the past 22-years and brought civility back to a Board once rife with arguments between Board members.

“I entered [politics] following a long military career because of a dreadful family tragedy. It created in me a passion in me to serve in a different way to make life better for my friends, family and neighbors and most of all to direct my energy to making our roads safe,” said Dudenhefer.

His youngest daughter, Emily, was killed in a car crash on a two-lane road Stafford County prior to his first term on the Board. It pushed him to run for public office, and on Saturday, he said fixing the region’s transportation problems remains a personal goal.

In addition to widening Stafford’s many two-lane roads, also touted widening Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) from four to six lanes from the Occoquan River in Woodbridge to Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford, expanding service on Virginia Railway Express and allowing drivers to access what will be Interstate 95’s High Occupancy Toll lanes from Dumfries Road (Va. 234) when construction is scheduled to begin as soon as next year.

In addition to Dudenhefer’s Republican-learning home turf of North Stafford, the 2nd House District also includes many democratic precincts in Prince William County east of U.S. 1 like Potomac, Swans Creek and Featherstone which in 2009 voted against Gov. Robert F. McDonnell who beat out his democratic opponent with nearly 60 percent of the vote statewide.

Right now, the Dudenhefer is running unopposed but says he may face a democratic challenger, as well as a Republican challenger that would force a primary.

“I want to assure the people of both eastern Prince William and northern Stafford counties that if elected I will represent the interests of all who reside inside these boundaries. We share common problems, common interests and common values,” said Dudenhefer.

Storms Possible Tonight

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Prince William County until 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

It comes as a large area of storms is moving east from the Charlottesville area into the Potomac Communities.

Temperatures have been hovering the in the high 80s and low 90s today, with periods of bright sunshine, making conditions ripe for scattered thunderstorms.

The forecast calls for more storms into the evening hours and throughout the day Sunday.

Temperatures are forecasted to drop significantly on Monday and Tuesday, as temps on Tuesday should hover in the mid-70s, according to the National Weather Service.

Unemployment Lowest in Northern Virginia

Prince

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart.

Prince William County, Va. –– The unemployment rate for jurisdictions along the Potomac River continues to fall.

Stafford County’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in April, down from 5.6 percent in April 2010.

Prince William County also posted a 4.9 percent unemployment number, down from 5.7 one-year ago.

While the two jurisdictions aren’t leading the region in job creation, officials in Prince William County this week credited the federal government and private sector jobs for the rise in the recent employments statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, which are well below the national unemployment average of 9.1 percent in May.

“Prince William County is located at the center of Northern Virginia, and our residents provide the highly skilled workforce needed to fill the jobs created throughout the Northern Virginia region,” said Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart in a press release. “We are committed to providing solutions for the federal government and private sector industries – particularly with regard to BRAC, the life sciences, data centers and government contractors – which continue to bring quality jobs to Prince William County and the rest of the Northern Virginia region.”

Arlington leads the area with the lowest unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, while Loudoun County comes in second with 3.9 percent, according to the Labor Department.

Fairfax County shows an unemployment rate of 4.0 percent.

Virginia localities still struggling to regain ground the economy is Martinsville, with an unemployment rate of 20.6 percent –– the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

Williamsburg has the second-worst unemployment rate in the state at 15.6 percent.

Slide Show: Air Disaster Drill at Quantico

Photos By Mary Davidson

Quantico, Va. –– A disaster scenario where two helicopters collided in mid-air over Quantico Marine Corps Base played out Thursday morning.

One chopper crash landed and caught fire while the other made a hard landing, leaving rescue crews with at least 30 injured patients.

While it was only a drill, the training exercise was held to gauge how well crews on the base and rescue officials in surrounding Prince William and Stafford counties could respond to such a disaster.

The simulated crash site was in a field surrounded by trees, and representatives from Sentara Potomac Hospital, Stafford Hospital Center and the Naval Medical Clinic on base were just of few of the ones scheduled to participate.

Among the items being monitored during the event, communication between participating agencies, how quickly the agencies responded to the event and how well base officials worked to get word out to the public about the crash.


Video: Large Hail, Strong Storms Hit Area

Woodbridge, Va. –– A line of severe thunderstorms moved through the Potomac Communities late Thursday night bringing reports of ping pong-ball size hail in Woodbridge.

Much of the area was placed under a severe thunderstorm warning by the National Weather Service shortly after 11 p.m. The slow-moving storms brought heavy rain, high winds and dangerous lightning.

Large hail was also reported, according to the weather service.

The storms came after the region saw nearly record-breaking temperatures on Thursday.

Reagan Washington National Airport flirted with the 100 degree mark for much of the afternoon, and by 3:52 p.m. the mercury had reached 101 degrees. Add four to five degrees to that temperature for the heat index and that’s what people felt when they ventured out of the air conditioning.

A heat advisory was in effect throughout the day, expiring at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Temperatures will fall back into the lower 90s on Friday and into the high 80s for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The possibility of showers and thunderstorms remain in the forecast over the next three days.

Unedited video of lightning rolling through Lake Ridge just before midnight Thursday.

Marines Begin Making Music Tonight

Quantico Marine Corps Band begins its summer concert series tonight (File photo)Triangle, Va. –– Marines are about to bring some music to what has become to what has already been a hot unofficial start to summer.

The Quantico Marine Corps Band will kick off their summer concert series at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of the Marine Corps off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) in Triangle.

Admission to the show is free and it will take place on the lawn outside of the museum.

Concessions will be available for sale.

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