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House panel next to consider Senate coal ash legislation that would impact Possum Point

RICHMOND — A Senate bill extending the moratorium on permanently closing coal ash ponds appears to be the only legislation on the issue poised to move forward from this General Assembly session.

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, introduced six pieces of legislation on coal ash, and coal ash ponds, where stored ash potentially risks contaminating groundwater.

The lone survivor is SB 807, which passed in the Senate 37-3 last week. Co-sponsored by Sen. Amanda F. Chase, R-Chesterfield, the bill would extend the moratorium on closing ponds where coal ash is stored until after the next legislative session, and would also require that Dominion Energy, the owners of the coal ash ponds, submit reports  to the General Assembly and governor on the cost of recycling the material. Coal ash is the toxic byproduct of coal-burning power plants

The bill’s next step is to go before a subcommittee of the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

Surovell said he has doubts about Dominion Energy estimates that recycling the utility’s ash would cost more than  $4 billion.

“I’m not convinced that Dominion’s numbers are accurate. I’m hopeful that with the new process we put in place, that the cost assessments for recycling will come down.” Surovell said.

According to Surovell, the Dominion utility rate cap bill has dominated the session to the point that other legislation, including his own, suffered.

The moratorium passed with support from environmental groups and Dominion Energy.

Dominion spokesman Robert Richardson said that Dominion has taken several actions to protect the environment since it was ordered in 2015 to resolve the coal ash issue.

Richardson said that Dominion plans to reduce the number of coal ash ponds at the Bremo power station in New Canton to just one within the next six months. The utility has already reduced the number of ponds at Possum Point in Dumfries from five to one. Overall, Richardson said, Dominion will have reduced the number of coal ash ponds under federal regulation from 11 to four.

Richardson also said that Dominion is currently recycling over 700,000 tons of coal ash a year, and is draining water from its Chesterfield power station ponds. He said Dominion stands by “cap in place” practices and that it has followed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.    

“What we are hoping first as far as a priority, is closing these ponds in a way that is fully protective of the environment,” Richardson said

Environmental groups have been skeptical, however, especially after Dominion was found guilty in federal court of violating the Clean Water Act for contaminating Virginia’s Elizabeth River with arsenic in 2017. The judge in the case, however, said the leak was considered small enough that it didn’t pose a threat to public health.

The Virginia branch of the Sierra Club, which filed the Elizabeth River suit, considers “cap in place” unsafe, The organization supports Surovell’s bill.

“Removing the ash or potentially recycling are the only responsible way to deal with toxic waste,” said Kate Addleson, director of the club’s Virginia chapter.  “We feel it’s important to make sure there are ways to evaluate the best way to dispose of the ash properly before moving forward.”

Cash taken in series of armed robberies at 7-Eleven stores

From a press release: 

Armed Robberies – On February 17 at 12:16AM, officers and detectives with the Robbery Unit responded to the 7-Eleven located at 14797 Darbydale Ave in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a robbery. An employee reported to police that an unknown man entered the business and approached the counter. During the encounter, the suspect displayed a handgun and took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing the area on foot.

A police K-9 searched the area for the suspect who was not located. At 12:32AM officers responded to the 7-Eleven located at 16170 Country Club Dr in Dumfries (22025) to investigate a second robbery involving the same suspect. An employee reported to police that the suspect entered the business and approached the counter displaying a handgun. The suspect took an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing the area on foot. A police K-9 searched the area for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

Unknown race male, slim build, 5’8”-6’0” tall

Last seen wearing all dark clothing and a dark green mask covering his face

Lake Ridge relief: Details on fixes for Old Bridge Road at Route 123. Weigh in this week on what actually gets fixed.

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Choose how you will lend a hand

Volunteer Prince William has put the call out. Can you help one of these organizations serve our community?
Good Morning Prince William – The Haymarket Regional Food Pantry invites you to their 40 days of Giving Campaign-2018 Lenten Challenge.  Gather your friends and family to pledge either a can a day or a dollar a day to support the many families in need.  This campaign started February 14thand goes through April 1st– Easter Sunday.  Suggested items are all the usual’s you know!  A full list and additional info can be found on their website at: haymarketfoodpantry.org

·         Youth for Tomorrow is looking for male mentors for kids in their programs. It just takes a 2 hour per week commitment to make a huge difference in a young man’s life.  Please call Vernell at (571) 432-8312 to learn more.

·         Pattie Elementary School has just kicked off their Reading Mentor Program to give kids consistent, valuable reading time with a volunteer.  In order to establish the relationship with this child, they are asking volunteers to sign up for a specific 30 minute time slot once a week for the rest of the school year. This promises to be super fun.  You can sign up on line at: signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2109338/false#/invitation or via email to Mr. Lucciotti at: lucciorj@pwcs.edu

·         Volunteer Prince William is pleased to present our Volunteer Management Training Program to all volunteer coordinators  This 5 week program is held every Tuesday mornings from 9am-noon beginning March 13th at 9248 Center Street in Manassas.  It’s a great way to freshen your skills and gain new insight. This series is free but you must register in advance at: volunteerprincewilliam.org.  Please call Jan at (571) 292-5307 to learn more.

·         Brain Injury Services has two volunteer needs to give their clients special activities.  One client needs a male volunteer to accompany him to swim laps at Cub Run Rec Center 2 times a month on Mondays or Thursdays late morning or early evenings. The other client needs a male volunteer to help him go through his baseball collection.  This client lives in Herndon.  Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext. 232 to learn more.

·         The Greater Prince William Medical Reserve Corps needs medical and non-medical volunteers to join their ranks.  These volunteers are trained to respond to public health emergencies as well as day to day health department activities.  The offer tons of training topics to build your skillset.  Please call Isabella at (703) 792-7341 to learn more.

·         The Lutheran Church of the Covenantin Dale City wants to pack 30,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger on March 10th.  Super fun, family friendly event to help those less fortunate.  You can choose either morning or afternoon shift.  Please visit: www.whatsupwoodbridge.com for the link to register. They also need donations to buy the meal components.  Please call Patti at (703) 200-3077 to learn more.

·         CASA Children’s Intervention Servicesis looking for volunteer advocates to represent a child suffering from abuse or neglect right here in our community. This is a very special volunteer job! Come to their next volunteer information session on Wednesday February 28th from 6-7pm at the offices of Imagine in Old Town Manassas- 9415 West Street to learn about this job and the extensive training afforded to you.  Please call Suzanne at (703) 330-8145 or via email:smitchell@casacis.orgto learn more.

·         Serve our Willing Warriors is having their next volunteer orientation on February 28th 6-7pm. come learn about all the wonderful opportunities and tour the retreat at 16013 Waterfall Road Haymarket.  Please email them at: volunteer@willingwarriors.org if you can attend.

·         Project Mend-A-House is now registering participants for their Live Well Workshops. This chronic disease self-management program meets at the Manassas Senior Center on Thursday mornings. They are also gearing up for their next volunteer training series for Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management program.  Training begins March 7th from 9am-4pm as well as mandatory attendance on March 9, 14 and 16th.   Please call Martha at (571) 264-8559 to learn more.

·         The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program is in urgent need of volunteers age 55+ to teach 4th grade children the life skills to keep them safe alone and safe at home.  Volunteers must be available during school hours.  This fun curriculum is very interactive and of course the kids are very fun.  Training is provided; please call Jan to learn more at (571) 292-5307 to be part of the RSVP team. 

·         Occoquan Watershed Clean-up is hosted by Rebekah a 13 yr. old Girl Scout on March 10th 10am-12;30 at Lake Ridge Park.  Come support her litter prevention project!  Please email Rebekah to volunteer or for more info at: sue.davejohnson@gmail.com

·         The ARC Greater Prince Williaminvites you and your family to their 5K Run/Walk/Roll on Saturday April 28th, 8am at Potomac Nationals Stadium. $25 for the first 100 participants, $30 early-bird registration before April 1st and then $40 regular price.  Please visit arcgpw.orgfor more info and to register today!

·         Mark your calendars for April 18th atChick-Fil-A in Lake Ridge to find more volunteer opportunities from area agencies.  The event is 9am-10:30am.  Bring your friends for free coffee.

·         The Bull Run Rotary Club invites you to their annual Manassas Runway 10K, 5Kor 1 mile run on the Manassas Airport Runway on Sunday April 29th at 8am. Please register online at: bishopseventregistrations.com


CENTERFUSE launches LaB: Insight on everything from bookkeeping to pitching a new business to prospective customers and investors

CENTERFUSE, the unique, shared coworking space located in the heart of Historic Downtown Manassas at Center and Main Streets, has announced the first sessions in its Launch-A-Business (LAB) education and incubator seminar series for emerging small businesses. The LAB Program – a core tenet of CENTERFUSE’s business plan to empower entrepreneurs and startup small business ventures, will begin sessions on April 18, with two-hour seminars every other weekend for 8 weeks.

The first in an on-going series of LAB seminar sessions – will teach participating new business owners practical knowledge, best practice insights, and legal and logistical fundamentals for launching and operating a startup company.

Seminar topics will include subjects like funding and venture capital generation, human resources and financial management, tax and bookkeeping best practices, business plan preparation, marketing and pitching a new business to prospective customers and investors. Separate Special Topic Presentations on alternate days from the formal LAB sessions will also be available. The cost for participating in the eight core LAB Program sessions is $200 per person (which is tax-deductible as a new business startup expense).

“The CENTERFUSE LAB Program will give emerging new businesses a leg up as they enter the local and regional marketplace” said Debbie Haight, Executive Director of Historic Manassas, Inc., which is the Program Director of the conjoined effort.”

The LAB Program is open to any startup businesses, whether or not they are cowork spaceholders at CENTERFUSE. Registration is open now.

Interested entrepreneurs can learn more by phoning 844-324-WORK (9675).

There was more talk of the Bi-County Parkway at a Prince William Committee of 100 meeting Thursday night

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Here are the 10 things seniors wished their caregivers knew

If you’ve spent time around seniors, you might have noticed some patterns in their basic needs. Many times, though, caregivers are inexperienced or they don’t know what to look for. And of course, caregivers tend to be younger than the seniors in their lives.

The challenge is that for most younger people, aging feels foreign, which make sense. They haven’t aged yet, so how can they know what it’s like to be a senior? If you are a caregiver especially, though, you need to understand seniors. And while every person is different, here are ten things most seniors wish their caregivers knew.

1.    I need to be with people, even if I don’t talk. Human beings are naturally social. But that doesn’t mean they always want to be verbal. Throw in feeling tired or introverted, and you come up with a quiet person. But silence doesn’t necessarily mean the senior in your life doesn’t want company. So long as nothing is wrong, being less vocal often means they just don’t feel like talking.


2.    I need you to know what I like. As we age, the things we used to enjoy may not be what we enjoy now. Food tastes different. Sensations feel different. Activities that used to be easy are now more difficult and might feel like work instead of play. While it’s okay to remind the senior in your life of things they used to enjoy, don’t push it. Pay attention to what they like right now and give them the opportunity to experience it.

3.    I need help keeping my balance. As we age, we tend to lose our balance more easily. There are many reasons for this. Muscle mass changes, weight changes, equilibrium changes…these all affect balance in seniors. Keep an eye on the senior in your life. Help them get to their walker if they use one. Lend an extra hand to help them feel more secure.

4.    I need you to go to the doctor’s office with me. If you’ve ever been confused by medical lingo, you can imagine what it might be like for a senior. Technology, terminology and procedures have changed, and it’s hard to keep up with those changes. Sometimes it can be difficult just getting through the office door, especially with medical or adaptive equipment and/or mobility challenges. You can help by accompanying the senior in your life to the doctor’s office. Be prepared to take notes, explain what is being said and lend a steadying hand.

5.    I need you to remind me to do certain things. This goes for seniors with and without dementia or Alzheimer’s. Seniors might need any number of reminders. From taking medicine to turning off the stove, the details in life can get overwhelming. If you see the senior in your life forgetting something, offer a gentle, kind reminder – never a reprimand.

6.    I need you to be patient. Seniors have lived longer lives. Their brains are filled with more details and experiences. Their bodies and their minds might move more slowly than we’re accustomed to, especially if we knew them earlier on in life. Expect that things will take more time. If you are on a schedule, leave enough time to account for their needs.

7.    I need you to treat me like an adult. The idea that you become a parent to your parent is somewhat of a myth. While it might feel that way sometimes, seniors are not children. They are older adults. They want respect, and they want to be as independent as possible. Being spoken to like they are children encourages dependence and is belittling, even if the speaker doesn’t mean it.  

8.    I need you to understand my fears. Between physical and psychological changes, as well as rapid changes in society and environments, the world can be a pretty scary place for many seniors. Fear of falling, fear of becoming a victim, fear of losing independence, fear of loneliness – all of these are common fears seniors experience. Help them understand the world around them and remind them of the support they have so they can feel more comfortable.

9.    I need you to understand why I get agitated. Whether it’s an uncomfortable sensation, fatigue, frustration with limitations or just pure aggravation, seniors can sometimes lose patience and lash out. Dementia and Alzheimer’s, along with personality traits, can add to that mix. Learn the warning signs. And if you need help understanding how to work with agitation, reach out to a professional.

10.    I need you to accept who I am. Caregivers have a tendency to want to fix things. But seniors don’t need to be fixed. They aren’t broken. They have lived a lifetime to become the person they are right now. They are who they are, and who they are is something special. Treat them that way.

Interestingly enough, most of these needs are shared by people of all ages. But for some reason, we look at seniors differently, as if being older means something separate from being a “normal” human. Remove that thought entirely. You’ll discover your relationship with the senior in your life will improve, and everyone’s lives will be enriched because of it.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care serving Prince William and Fauquier counties. 

Get autographs from sports, cinema legends, courtesy of P-Nats

From the Potomac Nationals press release:

Woodbridge, VA—The Potomac Nationals are excited to announce their complete Legends Autograph Series for the 2018 season featuring six celebrity autograph signing appearances at Pfitzner Stadium.

A total of eight celebs are set to be on hand at The Pfitz to meet and greet P-Nats fans and sign autographs during the Potomac Nationals’ 2018 campaign.

The P-Nats’ 2018 Legends Autograph Series will bring a combination of motion picture, television, and sports stars to Pfitzner Stadium on six dates in 2018.

Highlighting the Best Promotional Schedule in Minor League Baseball is the P-Nats’ 2018 Legends Autograph Series celebrity appearance schedule: 

-ROBERT WUHL, “Durham Bulls Pitching Coach, Larry Hockett” in Acclaimed Baseball Film, Bull Durham on Bull Durham 30th Anniversary Night (Saturday, June 23rd)

 -PHIL CHENIER and GHEORGHE MURESAN, Washington Bullets Legends of the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Washington Wizards Night (Friday, July 27th)

 -DIDI CONN, “Frenchy” in Legendary Musical, Grease and Grease 2 on Grease 40th Anniversary Night (Saturday, July 28th)  

 -CHAUNCEY LEOPARDI, “Squints” in Hallmark Kids Baseball Film, The Sandlot on The Sandlot 25th Anniversary Night (Saturday, August 4th)

 -COVELLI “COCO” CRISP, 2001 Potomac Cannons Outfielder and 2007 World Series Champion member of the Boston Red Sox on Potomac Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Day (Sunday, August 5th)

-JERRY “THE KING” LAWLER, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer and GRAND MASTER SEXAY (AKA BRIAN CHRISTOPHER LAWLER), WWE Legend for A Royal Night with The King (Friday, August 24th)

All autograph signings will be free to P-Nats fans as these celebrity appearance events are included with the price of admission to see the P-Nats play at The Pfitz.

Each celebrity will engage the P-Nats’ faithful during two public autograph signings during each appearance bisected by a ceremonial first pitch on the playing field.

Posed photography with P-Nats fans is at the discretion of each celebrity guest. 

The respective lines for celebrity autograph guests at Pfitzner Stadium will begin to form as soon as Season Ticket Holder gates open to Pfitzner Stadium. The general public may join the celebrity autograph guests line once gates to The Pfitz open to the public.  

The Potomac Nationals will sell 8×10 photos of the respective celebrities to be signed at the autograph table on the night of the celebrity appearance. 

The Legends Autograph Series gets underway on Saturday, June 23rd with a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Bull Durham.

As part of the celebration, Bull Durham (1988) actor Robert Wuhl will be on hand. Wuhl, who played Larry Hockett, the pitching coach for the Bulls in the film, also appeared in the 1994 biopic Cobb, in which he played author, Al Stump, who spent time with Detroit Tigers’ Hall of Fame player Ty Cobb while putting together a biography chronicling Cobb’s life. Wuhl played roles in Batman (1989), Good Morning Vietnam (1987), and Blue Chips (1994). Most recently, he has become best known as the creator and star of the HBO television comedy series Arli$$ (1996-2002), where he played Arliss Michaels, the president of a sports agency.

In addition to Wuhl’s appearance on 6/23 and the celebration of Bull Durham, the first 1,250 to the game between the P-Nats and Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals) will receive a Victor Robles “Rob Job” bobblehead. It is also the first Scout Night of the season at Pfitzner Stadium.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.

The autograph series continues with Washington Wizards Night on Friday, July 27th. Washington Wizards Night will feature a celebrity meet & greet and autograph signing with former Washington Bullets stars Phil Chenier and Gheorghe Muresan.

Chenier, who played for the Bullets franchise from 1971-1979 and claimed an NBA Championship in 1978, served as a television broadcaster for the Wizards from 1987 to 2017.

Muresan, drafted by the Bullets in 1993, played for four seasons with Washington. He is renowned for being tied with the late, Manute Bol, also a former Washington Bullet, for being the tallest player in NBA history at 7 feet, 7 inches. Muresan led the NBA in field goal percentage for both the 95-96 and 96-97 seasons.

Muresan also embarked on a film career that included him being featured in the motion picture, My Giant (1998) opposite comic legend and film star, Billy Crystal.

Washington Wizards Night will accompany the start to Wild Hair Weekend at Pfitzner Stadium. The first 1,000 fans through the gates that night will can take home an Anthony Rendon “Hat Hair.”

First pitch on Wizards Night between The Red, White, & Blue and the Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers) is set for 7:05pm.

Saturday, July 28th, one night after Washington Wizards Night, Pfitzner Stadium will host a 40th anniversary celebration of Grease (1978), complete with a celebrity autograph appearance by Didi Conn, who played “Frenchy” in the classic film.

Conn has more TV credits to her name than she does on the big screen, but her performance as “Frenchy” in Grease is her most well-known role. With her appearance in Grease 2 (1982) and a cameo in the TV special Grease: Live (2016), she is the only actress to have appeared in all three editions of the franchise.

In addition to the celebration of Grease with Conn, the P-Nats will pay homage to the film with custom theme jerseys.

Also that night, the first 1,250 fans to the ballpark will receive a Bryce Harper “Real Slicked Back Hair” bobblehead, dressed in style to match the movie. Saturday, July 28th is also the third Scout Night of the season at Pfitzner Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm, as the P-Nats will once again host the Mudcats.

Just one week after Didi Conn visits The Pfitz, the P-Nats will welcome Chauncey Leopardi to the Home of the Potomac Nationals as part of a celebration to honor the movie, The Sandlot (1993).

Leopardi played Michael “Squints” Palledorous in the movie and had multiple memorable scenes in the film. The Sandlot celebration is scheduled for Saturday, August 4th, as Potomac hosts the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs), with first pitch scheduled for 6:35pm.

A TV and film actor from 1990-2013, Leopardi has appeared on TV shows such as Boy Meets World, Freaks and Geeks, and Gilmore Girls. His other movie credits include The Big Green (1995), and most recently, Coldwater (2013).

In addition, the first 1,250 fans to the ballpark will receive a “Squints” bobblehead. The P-Nats will wear custom Sandlot inspired theme jerseys. It will also be the final Scout Night of the 2018 season.

The run of celebrities to Woodbridge doesn’t stop, as the following day, Sunday, August 5th, former Major League Baseball veteran standout, Covelli “Coco” Crisp will be on hand for a meet & greet autograph appearance. Crisp, who played for the Potomac Cannons in 2001, will be inducted into the Potomac Baseball Hall of Fame that afternoon.

A World Series Champion with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 who also claimed an American League Championship in 2016 with the Cleveland Indians, Crisp played in the Big Leagues for 15 years. Crisp, drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 7th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, played for Boston, Cleveland (two tours), the Kansas City Royals, and the Oakland Athletics.

Crisp was traded by St. Louis to Cleveland on August 7th, 2002 to complete an earlier trade for pitcher, Chuck Finley.

The longtime outfielder led the American League with 49 stolen bases in 2011 and ranked as one of the best defensive outfielders throughout his career.

First pitch on Coco Crisp PBHOF Induction Day is at 1:05pm, as the Pelicans continue their visit at Pfitzner Stadium.

To round out the 2018 Legends Autograph Series, the P-Nats will welcome a pair of WWE legends on Friday, August 24th. Jerry “The King” Lawler, and his son, Brian Christopher Lawler, AKA “Grand Master Sexay,” will be on hand for “A Royal Night with the King.”

Lawler, “The King,” a WWE Hall of Famer inducted in 2007, has been involved in professional wrestling since 1970. Jerry Lawler has been with the WWE in either a full time or part time capacity since 2001.

Jerry “The King” Lawler currently fills in as a commentator on various WWE broadcasts.

Lawler is known for his famous feud with legendary entertainer, Andy Kauffman that captivated the masses and linked the pair forever. 

The younger Lawler, who joined the then WWF, now WWE, in 1997, became a cult like classic character as “Grand Master Sexay,” part of the tag team “Too Cool.” He appeared for various independent wrestling companies through 2011 and reappeared in the WWE in both 2011 and 2014.

First pitch for “A Royal Night with the King” is set for 7:05pm, as Potomac will play host to the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians).

Potomac Nationals Opening Day 2018 is set for Thursday, April 5th at Pfitzner Stadium as the Nationals host the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals).

First pitch for the P-Nats’ 2018 season opener is set for 7:05pm.

P-Nats’ 2018 ticket plans and group outings are currently available for purchase. For more information, or to purchase any of these plans, contact Potomac Nationals Director of Season Ticket and Group Ticket Sales, Alec Manriquez, by phone at 703-590-2311, ext. 221, or via e-mail at amanriquez@potomacnationals.com.

The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Carolina League affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Potomac Nationals have claimed five Carolina League Championship titles (1982, 1989, 2008, 2010, and 2014) and nine CL Northern Division Championships. Sponsorship opportunities for the P-Nats’ 2018 season and beyond are available, as well as all-inclusive corporate picnic outings to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz. 2018 Potomac Nationals season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. For more information on Potomac Nationals 2018 season tickets, mini plans, group outings, picnic packages, fundraisers, and all things Red, White, and Blue, visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com, follow the P-Nats on Facebook (@PotomacNationals), Twitter (@PNats42), and Instagram (@pnats42), or call the Potomac Nationals’ Extreme Custom Collision Ticket Office at 703-590-2311.

Development hopes pinned on $64 million Woodbridge interchange. Will it make a ‘sense of place?’ Or is it a waste of space?

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Prince William employee arrested on suspected embezzlement

From the Prince William police press release:

Felony Embezzlement | Arrest of County Employee – On January 7, detectives from the Property Crimes Bureau began an investigation involving equipment reported missing by the Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue. The investigation revealed a civilian employee, assigned to the Logistics Section located at 9027 Euclid Ave in Manassas (20110), sold County owned equipment through a personal online E-Bay account for personal gain. Between October 2017 and January 2018, the employee is alleged to have sold approximately $20,000 worth of equipment online. The employee is also alleged to have used the County’s prepaid delivery account to send personal items and stolen items to E-Bay purchasers at an estimated $800 expense. Following the investigation, detectives obtained warrants for the arrest of the employee. On February 14, the accused, Charles Bryan MARCUS, was arrested without incident.

Arrested on February 14:

Charles Bryan MARCUS, 69, of 13238 Kurtz Rd in Dale City

Charged with 2 counts of felony embezzlement

Court Date: Pending | Bond: $50,000 unsecured

Tip leads to shooting suspect’s arrest

From the Prince William police press release:

Shooting Investigation *ARREST – On February 13, detectives from the Violent Crimes Bureau received a tip which ultimately led to the identity of the suspect involved in the shooting that occurred in the 8300 block of Sudley Rd in Manassas on January 28. Following the investigation, detectives obtained warrants for the arrest of this suspect, identified as David Alfredo RODRIGUEZ RAMOS. On February 14, the accused was located in Fairfax County and arrested without incident. A search warrant was subsequently executed at the residence of the accused on Heritage Crossing Ct in Manassas.

Arrested on February 14:

    David Alfredo RODRIGUEZ RAMOS, 37, of 8316 Heritage Crossing Ct in Manassas

    Charged with aggravated malicious wounding, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and discharging a weapon near a roadway

    Court Date: March 13, 2018 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

Shooting Investigation [Previously Released] On January 28 at 2:33AM, officers responded to the 8300 block of Sudley Rd in Manassas (20109) to investigate a shooting. When officers arrived, they located an adult male suffering from gunshot wounds to the arm and lower body. Officers used their Department issued trauma kits to provide immediate first-aid to the victim before rescue crews arrived on scene.  The victim, identified as a 24-year-old man of Manassas, was flown to an area hospital with serious injuries. The initial investigation by detectives with the Violent Crimes Bureau determined that the victim and an unknown male were involved in a verbal altercation inside of the Uptown Alley located inside of the Manassas Mall. When the business closed, another altercation between the two parties occurred in the parking lot. During that encounter, the unknown male brandished a firearm and shot the victim before fleeing the area. Officers searched the area for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Virginia may create ombudsman to help with student loans

RICHMOND – Virginia legislators are seeking to mitigate the personal and economic consequences of their constituents’ student loan debt by creating a state-level ombudsman to troubleshoot problems and educate borrowers regarding college loans.

In 2017, more than 1 million Virginians owed more than $30 billion in student loan debt, state officials say. Nationally, student loan debt is more than $1.3 trillion and climbing.

“Virginians owe more on student loans than we do on credit cards or car loans, but only student loans lack consumer protections,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, a liberal advocacy group.

This week, the Senate and House each passed bills to create the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman and establish a Borrower’s Bill of Rights. SB 394 passed the Senate unanimously on Monday; HB 1138 cleared the House, 94-5, on Tuesday.

Supporters say the ombudsman’s office would help college students secure loans and understand how to pay them off. They said the office also would establish a culture of transparency, fairness and open communication between loan providers and borrowers.

Besides reviewing and resolving borrower complaints, the ombudsman would educate loan borrowers about their rights and responsibilities and about potential problems such as late payments.

By December 2019, the ombudsman would develop a course for borrowers, half of whom are under 25.

“Too many student borrowers sign their names on the dotted line at only 18 or 19 years old without fully comprehending their rights and responsibilities associated with that debt, but also knowing that without those loans they would not be able to earn their degrees,” said Del. Maria “Cia” Price, D-Newport News, who sponsored HB 1138.

In addition, the Senate unanimously approved SB 362, which would require companies that handle the billing and other services on student loans to obtain a license from the State Corporation Commission.

Virginia is not the first jurisdiction to experiment with measures to protect student loan borrowers. Washington, D.C., established a student loan ombudsman and Borrower’s Bill of Rights a year ago.

The bipartisan approval of the legislation marks a win for Gov. Ralph Northam, who included the creation of a student loan ombudsman among his top priorities for the 2018 session.

Price also sponsored a bill that aimed to create a state agency to help Virginians refinance their student loan debt. HB 615 was killed on a 5-3 party-line vote in a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Week five: a deal on misdemeanor-felony threshold, coal ash continues

The fifth week of session brought a furious pace to legislating including some of the most contentious bills of the session as we approached “crossover” – the day the Senate and House are required to complete action on legislation originating in each chamber.  It was mostly a successful week for me.  Twenty-one of my bills are now set to pass the Senate to be considered by the House of Delegates.

First, Governor Northam announced an agreement to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500.  Once enacted, Virginia’s threshold will still be the second lowest in the United States.  I have introduced this legislation every year for nine sessions I was pleased it is finally going to be enacted into law. 

My legislation to place a 36% interest rate cap on all consumer finance loans was sent back to committee for “additional vetting” after the online lending industry retained a top Richmond lobbying firm.  Luckily, my bill re-escaped the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with only three “no” votes and I hope it will finally pass this week.

All six of my coal ash bills were heard this week.  Ultimately, I mediated a compromise between Governor Northam, Dominion and environmental groups to continue the moratorium on closing coal ash ponds for twelve months, required Dominion to issue requests for proposal from coal ash recycling companies to recycle ash, and convene a joint committee of Senate and House members to investigate the coal ash problem over the next twelve months.  My bill also allowed the closure ponds where ash has already been removed so we do not continue to have open holes in the ground.

While I was disappointed that we did not completely resolve the issue this session, the ultimate disposition of these ponds will cost ratepayers billions of dollars and it is important to proceed carefully to both build support and make sure the correct outcome in justified.  I am hopeful that the information generated last year and over the coming months coupled with other legislators focused on resolution will help generate a consensus.   

Unfortunately, my bill to impose a four-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas east of Interstate 95 was rereferred to the Senate Finance Committee where it died on a tie (8-8) vote.  Some members were concerned it constituted a government “taking” although similar legislation has passed in numerous states and survived numerous litigation challenges.  I will try again next year.

The Health and Education Committee passed my legislation to allow low income high school students to take online classes without paying any fees and requiring schools to provide them with computers.  I introduced the bill after I discovered Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge free and reduced lunch families fees up to $345 to take online classes and do not provide computers.  The bill will be on the floor of the Senate this week.

The Equifax data hack highlighted the vulnerability of personal information environment.  My legislation to require credit bureaus to freeze credit at no charge was amended to a $5 fee and my legislation to clarify the process for freezing children’s credit was passed.  The bill passed committee and should pass the full Senate this week. 

Finally, the Senate passed major legislation repealing the cap on electricity rates that the General Assembly enacted in 2015 due to uncertainty created by President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that the current Administration has taken steps to repeal.  While there were some parts of the bill I did not like, the legislation takes all of Dominion’s over-earnings and reinvests it into necessary grid modernization, will increase Virginia’s renewable energy production by ten-fold (500 MW to 5,000 MW), increases Dominion’s shareholders’ payments towards low-income energy assistance, directs Dominion’s profits towards $450 million of coal ash cleanup expenses, and expands Dominion’s Strategic Undergrounding Program in ways that could lead to underground power lines on U.S. 1. 

You can always reach me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback.  It is an honor to serve as your state senator. 

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