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Winning spinach and chorizo soup now on Manassas menu

A frigid winter evening didn’t hold people back from coming to historic downtown Manassas for the 2nd Annual Souper Bowl, Friday, Feb. 5.

Crowds filled the sidewalks and shops as they explored downtown and tasted 13 different soups. In the end there had to be a winner, and this year’s Souper Bowl Champion was Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant with their homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup, featured at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory.

Mariachi’s is a new restaurant in Manassas opening just over a month ago in the old City Square Café location on Battle Street. They featured two soups at this year’s event – the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup as well as a spinach and chorizo soup.

Originally, the spinach and chorizo soup wasn’t a regular menu item, but after such positive praise at the Souper Bowl, owner Antonio Escamilla added it to the restaurant’s daily menu.

“We’ve had a few different groups of people come in since the Souper Bowl, saying they learned about us and our location after attending the event,” Escamilla said. Mariachi’s is owned by Escamilla, Rafael Martinez, and Primo Castlan who says their goal was to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and traditions to downtown Manassas – “it’s the food your grandmother would make” said Escamilla.

Every Friday and Saturday night a live mariachi band performs in the restaurant but on this First Friday they traveled to both Calico Jack’s and the Center for the Arts to supply an added ambience as attendees sampled the soups from both locations.

Head chef L. Fernando Babadilla says the key to the winning Chicken Tortilla Soup is his homemade tortilla recipe that he has had perfected for nearly five years. Chef Fernando’s secret to the spinach and chorizo soup – homemade chorizo. The chorizo mixed with the creaminess of the spinach makes for a soup packed with flavors everyone can enjoy.

This year’s Souper Bowl saw nearly a 20 percent increase in attendance with many already talking of their excitement for next year’s event.

It was a great kickoff for this year’s series of First Fridays, the next of which is Friday, March 4. Don’t forget to mark your calendars and come out to enjoy a fun evening in historic downtown Manassas! For a comprehensive list of events going on in Manassas this year, go to

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Go green and refill your Manassas Olive Oil bottles

Did you know you can return and refill your old olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles for a discount, and go green at the same time?

Manassas Olive Oil customers can now return and recycle their used oil bottles.

“The glass bottles we give you, you can refill them as long as they’re brought back clean and dry and refilling them gives you a 10% discount,” said Manassas Olive Oil General Manager Cameron Thompson.

Manassas Olive Oil says recycling old bottles is better for the environment because it keeps empties out of landfills and off sides of the road. (more…)

City of Manassas companies receive ‘Excellence in Business’ nominations

This post is written by the City of Manassas as part of a paid content partnership between the City and Potomac Local to showcase businesses and economic development.

EXCELLENCE — most commonly defined as a talent or characteristic which is unusually high quality and which exceeds the average. It is often invoked, repeatedly strived for, but rarely achieved. 

On Feb. 25, 2016 two dozen Manassas City businesses will vie for this coveted designation during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Awards dinner.  The awards recognize excellence in business, including categories for innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.    

Nominees include tech firms, fine dining restaurants, and government contractors from both the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park as well as from Prince William County.  They are small businesses, large employers and everything in between.    

Some have just recently opened their doors –like CJ Finz, while others have been around for more than 20 years, as is the case with Carmello’s and Little Portugal.  Both are located in Historic Downtown and both are nominated for “Outstanding Customer Service.”  (more…)

Permitted release of coal ash surface water continues at Possum Point

While efforts are underway to halt Dominion’s plan to treat the toxic water and release it into the waterway, the state’s largest utility continues to drain storm water at the site.

It is also moving forward with plans to treat toxic water and release it into the Potomac River. On Jan. 14, 2016, Dominion won approval from Virginia’s Water Control Board to consolidate water and ash from five coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries and Quantico, treat the water, and release it into the Potomac River.

Dominion release follows permit rules 

In Spring 2015, Dominion released about 27 million gallons of water from Coal Ash Pond E into a tributary of the Quantico Creek. The water was storm runoff that accumulated in the pond, which Dominion calls surface water. (more…)

Have Your Next Group Event at Manassas Olive Oil

This is a sponsored column written by Potomac Local for Manassas Olive Oil

The Manassas Olive Oil Company was founded on the notion that great olive oil should be shared with others.

Alex and his daughter Amanda, both military veterans, opened their shop on Grant Avenue in Manassas to share their passion for fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegar with their friends in thier sunlit tasting gallery.

A tasting is now an event that you can share with your friends and family. Manassas Olive Oil is available for bachelor parties, after-hour night time events, and culinary shows.

Becuase of Manassas Olive Oil, more people in and around Manassas are having fun while tasting delicious oils and vinegar. Recently, Manassas Olive Oil shared partnered with Love, Charley for a First Friday event featuring free tastings, raffles, and coupons. (more…)

Marine Museum hangs WWII plane recovered from Lake Michigan

A World War II plane pulled from the depths Lake Michigan now hangs in the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Riggers today hoisted the SBD-3 Dauntless into place above the Leatherneck Gallery — the atrium visitors to the famous museum see upon entering the building. There, it will hang with other aircraft that were integral to the missions of U.S. Marines throughout history.

The Dauntless was used by the U.S. Navy starting on Aug. 24, 1942. Several Marine Corps squadrons used the plane in the U.S.

The aircraft transferred from the Marine Corps to the U.S. Navy Carrier Qualification Training Unit in Glenview, Ill. in 1943. It was lost in a training accident that same year when the plane crashed and sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan. (more…)

Business is booming in Manassas

This post is written as part of a paid content partnership between Potomac Local and City of Manassas to showcase businesses and economic development in the city.

Historic Heart. Modern Beat.   These four words simply yet masterfully describe the City of Manassas.  In case you missed it, this is the City’s new tagline, and it’s pretty spot-on.      

Manassas is a city steeped in rich history and tradition and takes great pride in the pivotal role it played in our country’s defining war. 

Manassas is also transforming. 

It is attracting a creative class of entrepreneurs that are changing the face of our City.  They are authentic, eclectic, driven; and they are breathing new life into Manassas, most notably in Historic Downtown.  (more…)

Prince William says it has a legal case over toxic water treat and release

Prince William County is lawyering up for a potential fight against Virginia Dominion Power’s controversial plan to treat and flush more than 200 million gallons of toxic coal-ash water into Quantico Creek. first reported the story. 

Virginia’s Water Control Board on January 14 approved Dominion Virginia Power’s plan to treat the toxic water and release it into the Potomac River. 

Toxic water to be treated, released into Potomac River

Dominion Virginia Power was given a green light this morning to begin de-watering toxic ash ponds near Quantico.

Virginia’s Water Control Board met outside Richmond and approved a permit that allows the energy giant to treat waters consolidated into one of five coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Station, and then release it into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

The decision comes after multiple local, state, and federal agencies asked for more time to review the plans.

“This is my fifth year on the Water Control Board, and I’ve never seen so many stakeholders, including government entities, request more time for review,” said Roberta Kellar, the one dissenter in today’s vote by the Board. (more…)

Possum Point decision expected this week; Feds urge delay

A decision could come this week to allow toxic water at Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries to be treated and released into Potomac River.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Richmond to review a permit to allow plant owner Dominion Virginia Power to treat and release from coal ash ponds into the river, and Quantico Creek.

Several legislators, and officials from Maryland — the state that owns the Potomac River — urge to Control Board to allow for more time to review the proposal.

Dominion seeks to consolidate the contents of five coal ash ponds at Possum Point into one pond. The water from the fifth pond would be treated and drained into the Potomac River and Quantico Creek, and the pond capped and closed much like a landfill is at the end of its life. (more…)

Find people you know, trust who have your success in mind

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

Building a Business is a Team Effort — With a Little Help From Our Friends

My first lesson in the value of mentors came early – and hard. On July 3rd, 1985, I was enduring the first grueling week (called “Ground Week”) of the U.S. Army Airborne School. My Student ID – printed boldly across my helmet – was 141 (yes, 30 years later I remember my Student Number).

No matter the reason, I was a “NO GO” and did not qualify to advance to the second week (Tower Week) of training. The choice was mine – give up or repeat Ground Week.

Ugh! I wanted to quit, to give up, go back home and drink some beer with my friends and work so I could actually afford my next year of college expenses. Worse yet, if I decided to repeat Ground Week my Student ID label on my helmet would become 141”G” and everyone would know that I was “recycled.”

One of my Airborne Drill Instructors (we called them “Black Hats” ( I’ll leave you to guess why) came over and said to me) “Cadet, I know you are thinking about quitting. Heck I would be thinking it too if I were you.”  (more…)

Marine Corps Museum to close for 3 months starting Jan. 4

Marine Corps Museum

The installation of a new aircraft will mean the closure of the National Museum of the Marine Corps starting Monday.

A World War II SBD Dauntless dive bomber will be added to the museum’s collection of artifacts that tell the history of the Marine Corps from the founding of the U.S. through the Vietnam War. The aircraft will be hung from the ceiling of the central gallery.

The museum will close from Jan. 4 to March 31, 2016, for the installation project. Outside the museum, an outdoor playground, the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, it’s nearby memorials, and pathways on the museum grounds is expected to remain open during construction. A museum gift shop will continue to operate online during the closure.

“While we never like to close the doors of our Museum, this process will better enable us to tell the stories of every American who has earned the title ‘Marine,” remarked LtGen Robert R. Blackman, Jr., President and CEO of the Foundation in a press release. “Marine Corps history is American history, and we look forward to sharing these impressive pieces of our past with visitors from across the country and around the world.”

The museum is undergoing an expansion in addition to the new aircraft and upcoming closure. A new 128,000 square-foot addition is being added that will feature a new art gallery, a large-format 350-seat theatre, and a new exhibit that will tell the story of Marine Corps operations from the 1980s to today.

A Hall of Valor will be added to showcase Medal of Honor recipients. The addition is expected to cost $69 million and complete the circle layout building designers originally envisioned for the structure. Construction should be completed in 2017.

The Marine Corps Museum opened at Quantico in 2006. It has welcomed more than 3 million visitors since that time. Admission to the museum is free.

Stewart ‘disgusted’ with coal ash plan moving ahead

stewart, prince william, supervisor

A deadline for public comments on a plan to treat and release toxic water into the Potomac River has come and gone.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors asked for a 60-day extension of a public comment period ending December 14 for the Possum Point Power Station near Dumfries and Quantico where water from coal ash ponds have been seeping into tributaries for years.

If the comment period was not extended, the Board threatened it would not support a request from Dominion Virginia Power to treat and release toxic water from coal ash ponds — a byproduct left over from when the power plant burned coal before 2003 — into the Potomac River.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing Dominion’s request, and would ultimately monitor a toxic water treat and release process at the site. The agency did not extend the comment period.

“Dominion is running roughshod over regulations in Virginia…they’re acting like a very bad corporate citizen,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. “No one ever thought Dominion and the state would collude to pollute the river.”

Stewart said he was “disgusted” with the thought of releasing water once contained in toxic ponds at the site of the power plant into Quantico Creek, which will flow into Potomac River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.

The toxic wastewater ponds date back to the 1950s. Of the five ponds at Possum Point, only two are still wet. Coal ash was dug up from three dry ponds and placed into one of two wet ponds earlier this year.

Dominion’s ultimate goal: Pump all remaining water into one pond and treat, and then release the water. The remaining coal ash would be buried, and the pond would be capped off, similarly to the closure of a landfill.

“There’s everything that we believe, based on science, that this will work,” Virginia DEQ chief David Paylor told a room of concerned citizens and politicians who gathered last month at DEQ’s Northern Virginia headquarters in Woodbridge.

Virginia’s Water Control Board will meet January 14 in Glen Allen, Virginia to consider approving the plan to treat and release the toxic water.

Dominion says their company is following the permitting rules and timeline set by DEQ and the federal government.

“All these type of requests have a time limit imposed on them,” said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest. The EPA set forth new guidelines this year that state they want these types of ponds closed in three years, and we want to do so to protect the environment and water quality.”

Olaun Simmons works as town attorney for Dumfries, Quantico

Only on Potomac Local 

Olaun Simmons will serve both the towns of Dumfries and Quantico as the Town Attroney.

Simmons is employed by the Town of Dumfries and is paid a part-time salary of $89,144, according to the town budget. Simmons works 32 hours per week at Dumfries.

Quantico contracted with Simmons in September and had agreed to pay Simmons $200 per hour, said Quantico Town Clerk Rita Frazier.

Boyd, Leahy, and Franceson Lawyers in Manassas had been contracted to provide legal services to the town until they resigned, said Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown. The law firm declined to speak with Potomac Local for this story.

Simmons is exited about serving both towns. He submitted this statement to Potomac Local via email: 

I can confirm that I am the new Town Attorney for the Town of Quantico, and it is truly an honor to be able serve the Town of Quantico in this capacity. I accepted the position for the Town Attorney for the Town of Quantico on October 13, 2015, and I plan to serve in this capacity for as long as Council will have me as their attorney. 
I have been the Town Attorney for the Town of Dumfries since November 2013, and I am still the Town Attorney for the Town of Dumfries. I am enjoying my tenure as the Town Attorney for Dumfries and I will serve Dumfries in this capacity as long as Council will have me as their attorney.  It’s been an honor to serve the Town of Dumfries as the Town Attorney, and I’m really enjoying working with Town Council and the Town Manager as they continue to move the Town is a positive direction.

Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown identified Simmons this morning in a posted on the town’s Facebook page, noting Simmons would be directed to look into what options the Town of Quantico has when it comes to delaying a decision to treat toxic water at the Possum Point Power Station and release it into the Potomac River.

Kevin Brown posted this on Quantico’s Facebook page:

This afternoon I submitted a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requesting that they delay approving Dominion Virginia Power’s permit request for (90) days. I made this request for two reasons (1) first, we needed more time to ensure our residents were aware of Dominion’s plan to release millions of gallons of contaminated industrial waste water into Quantico Creek and our Potomac River, (2) and secondly, we need more time to research the specifics of their permit request and try to find out what they intend to put in the water.

Simmons has worked for the Town of Dumfries and has taken up several issues, to include developing a new parking ordinance for the town, pursuing legal action against owners of blighted properties, and working on a new agreement between the town and the owners of Potomac Landfill, a construction debris dump in the town.

Announcing the new 55+ Active Adult Membership at the Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center is very excited to announce our new Active Adult membership.

This membership is exclusively designed for individuals 55-64 years old and is only $15/month with 6 and 12 month options. The membership includes access to the gymnasium, pool, and wellness centers as well as all land and water group exercise classes, one fitness orientation, one fitness assessment, and two 30 minute personal training sessions.

This exciting new membership was created based on member feedback and proven demand over the last couple years. Until now our only Active Adult membership option was our Senior Passport membership which is only $30/year. However, this membership is only available for individuals 65 years and older.

As the senior programming became increasingly popular requests to expand our membership offerings also grew. The result was the creation of the new Active Adult membership.

Trying to stay fit? The Active Adult membership includes a number of wellness based classes!

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Senior Strength and Stretch offers a challenging workout that is low impact, but still meets your fitness needs.

Mixed gentle yoga focuses on your core and improves balance with easy-going, gentle yoga poses.

Aquasize is a water based exercise class that offers muscle toning in a low impact environment.

One of our most popular programs is Pickleball which is described as a combination of tennis and badminton.

Looking to learn something new or meet new people? Going Global is an opportunity to experience the diversity within our communities where you can learn about a variety of cultures through photos, stories, and food.

Piano/keyboard lessons offer a chance to explore your musical side whether you’re a beginner or a novice.

If you’re crafty, Social Knitting and Crafting for a Cause are two programs where you can learn to knit or crochet while creating projects for yourself or others to donate. The monthly senior potluck allows you to reconnect with friends in a casual environment.

Easy Gourmet is a hands-on cooking class where you learn to make quick and easy fourfive ingredient recipes.

Road Trip 66 State-to-State is a program where you can experience the diversity of our own country – think of it as a domestic Going Global! All of these programs and more are included in the new Active Adult membership!

Come meet our Senior Recreation Specialist, Bethiah Shuemaker, who has been at the forefront of creating all new senior programs for spring!

We hope to see you soon here at the Manassas Park Community Center!

Wreaths will be laid at Quantico National Cemetery

Volunteers will lay wreaths at Quantico National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Quantico National Cemetery will host Wreaths Across America, a holiday wreath-laying ceremony to honor and remember our nation’s Veterans. The Civil Air Patrol, Veterans service organizations and citizens are coordinating the event to honor Veterans of each branch of the military, the Merchant Marine as well as Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action (POW/MIA).

Members of the Civil Air Patrol, representatives from the military services, Veterans and their families will participate in the event

The event begins Dec. 12, 2015, at noon at Quantico National Cemetery located at 18424 Joplin Rd in Triangle.

The Worcester Wreath Company, through a campaign called Wreaths Across America, began donating holiday wreaths in tribute to Veterans laid to rest at VA’s national cemeteries and state Veterans cemeteries in 2006. Since 1992, they have donated wreaths for gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery. The Civil Air Patrol is once again coordinating wreath ceremonies around the country as a part of Wreaths Across America.

Visit the Wreaths Across America website more information on this event.

Residents on Potomac River Coal Ash Plan: We weren’t notified

Coal ash

Virginia environmental officials took questions Tuesday night from the public about a plan to treat toxic water and drain it into the Potomac River.

Residents who live near Dominion Virginia Power’s Possum Point Power Station outside Dumfries and across from Quantico say they’re fearful of the plan, which could lead to higher than normal levels of heavy metals in Quantico Creek and Potomac River that would flow downstream to the Chesapeake Bay.

Those waters would be drained from a large coal ash pond at the power plant called “D pond.”

Coal ash is what’s left behind after coal is burned to create electricity. Possum Point switched to gas technology and stopped burning coal in 2003. Coal ash has been stored in water ponds at the site since the 1950s.

Dominion says it must get the water out of “D Pond” before it can cap and close it. Virginia’s Water Control Board is set to vote January 14 on final approval of a permit, written by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality that will set limits on the levels of toxic materials allowed in the water if the toxic water treatment and drainage begins.

DEQ will stop accepting public comments on the permit on December 14.

A toe drain at Possum Point has been draining water from a coal ash pond, groundwater from a natural dam containing the water in the coal ash pond, and storm water, for about 50 years, said Virginia DEQ spokesman Bryant Taylor.

The draft permit does not set safe limits on the amount of heavy metals that may come out of that drain. It does set maximum limits on 14 “toxics” commonly found in coal ash, including arsenic, cadmium and zinc.

The permit will require monitoring of sediment and water at the toe drain site to occur weekly. Dominion must monitor levels of heavy metals and report back to state officials, per the permit written by DEQ.

“We’ve done tests in the area of the toe drain that show higher than normal toxins int he water, and you have that data,” Potomac River Keeper Vice President Nick Nutter told Virginia Department of Environmental Quality officials.

The tests of sediment and water taken around the toe drain do show higher than permitted levels of heavy metals, but there is some “uncertainty to that data,” added DEQ officials.

Fishing advisories are frequently issued for the Potomac River warning fishermen not to eat carp, American eel, and catfish they catch, said Taylor. In November, Taylor told Potomac Local there are not accelerated levels of heavy metals in the water or the sediment at the toe drain.

Working under a permit issued in 2013, Dominion moved coal ash from four other ponds at the power plant into “D Pond” where they wish to drain it, between May and October 2015. The movement consolidation of the ash is the impetus for the new permit.

Some asked if water has been leaking out of the toe drain for 50 years, what is the need for the new permit now being considered.

“The recent stirring up of the ash is not aligned with [the drainage that’s been] going on during the past 50 years,” said Taylor.

Quantico Mayor Kevin Brown told DEQ officials his town council and residents were not notified of the plan to allow Dominion to treat and maintain the water. DEQ officials confirmed they notified Town of Dumfries officials, but not those in Quantico.

“I’m going to consult with our town’s legal council and see what options we have to delay this action,” said Brown. “January 14 is just not enough time for us.”

Several residents at Tuesday’s meeting noted a lack of communication from DEQ notifying them of Dominion’s permit request. The agency held a two-hour public meeting November 18 at the request of elected officials to answer questions from the public on the plan.

Prince William County Public Works chief Mark Aveni said the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking for a 60-day extension of the public comment period on the Possum Point permit.

“If the comment period is not extended, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will oppose the issuance of the permit,” said Aveni.

Delegate Scott Surovell said he, along with elected officials in Fairfax County, requested a 60-day extension on the public comment period but were denied. 

The process of treating the coal ash water and draining it would be a first for Dominion. The company is in talks with a third party about using a large sand filter to treat the water and then to release it, said Dominion Director of Electricity and Environment Cathy Taylor.

The treating and drainage of water at Possum Point would begin shortly after Dominion’s permit is approved. Once the pond is drained leaving behind coal ash, a synthetic liner will be put in place in at the pond, then 18 inches of soil, and then a 6-inch vegetation layer that will have plants and grasses, said Taylor.

If Dominion’s permit is approved, other utility companies will monitor how Dominion’s treatment process to learn best practices, said Taylor.

More than 50 people attended the public hearing at the Northern Virginia Regional DEQ Headquarters in Woodbridge. It was the final public hearing scheduled before the state Water Control Board’s vote on Jan. 14, 2016.

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