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Gainesville

Come for the Manassas Christmas parade, stay for lunch and learn why historic Santa wears red, white, and blue

On Saturday, December 5, Manassas will host its annual Christmas Parade in Downtown.

Why not make a day of it and come have lunch with Santa Claus at the Old Manassas Courthouse located at 9248 Lee Avenue in Manassas, at the corner of Lee and Grant avenues. He’ll be once again dusting off that old patriotic suit of red, white, and blue for his visit.

The suit, which resembles our nation’s flag was created by famed German Born cartoonist Thomas Nast and first appeared in Harper’s Weekly on January 3, 1863 and was used as a recruiting piece for the northern war effort during the Civil War.

Santa was illustrated giving Christmas gifts to soldiers outside Fredericksburg, and was meant to soften the blow suffered by the Federal Army under General Ambrose Burnside earlier in December of 1862.

The menu will consist of oven roasted turkey, honey baked ham, home-style mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, freshly cut bacon herbed green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, giant cookies, and freshly baked pumpkin pie.

Beverages will include spiced apple cider, freshly brewed coffee, and hot chocolate. After lunch, bring your camera for a picture with Santa and an opportunity to discuss your Christmas list with him.

Then make an authentic 19th Century Christmas decoration to take home. Participants are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots.

The cost is $20 per person ages 11 and up, and $10 for children 10 and younger. Lunch will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Ball Room.

Elevator access is available to those who need it. For more information or to make a reservation please contact the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division at (703) 792-4754.

European Wax Center in Manassas makes guests look and feel beautiful

European Wax Center in Manassas

European Wax Center opened in June at Bull Run Plaza in Manassas.

Ron Whidby, the franchise owner of the location, said European Wax Center in Manassas offers its guests a unique experience that stands out from the competition, and they strive to make guests look and feel beautiful.

“We provide an upbeat, friendly atmosphere. Our guests enjoy a personalized experience from the time they enter our doors. Our guest service coordinators greet you as soon as you arrive. We offer a private room with your licensed professional, whom we call Wax Specialists or Skin Care Specialists,” said Whidby.european-wax-center-3

European Wax Center in Manassas uses its own exclusive wax, called Comfort Wax that is shipped from Paris. The wax is applied at a lukewarm temperature, and there are no strips needed to remove the wax because it is a hard wax, meaning the wax hardens and is removed without strips, quickly and effortlessly. It’s ideal for sensitive skin and is unlike the traditional soft wax, which can cause irritations to the skin. Other places may use a hard wax like European Wax Center, but Whidby says that it’s not the same.

“A lot of the Wax Specialists can’t believe how well our wax works compared to other hard waxes they’ve used in the past,” said Whidby. The high-quality of the wax and materials used at European Wax Center is enough for guests to make return visits. Men and women, from a variety of ages, often visit the center.

“For women, the number one service is the bikini wax,” Whidby said. “Men typically get a back or shoulder wax.”

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Unlike other spas, European Wax Center in Manassas only provides waxing services. “Our Wax Specialists focus on waxing all day long so they master the techniques needed to complete a service effectively and efficiently.  We are the experts in waxing, because that is all that we do. Most services are scheduled for 15 minutes, which allows many guests to come in for their waxing on a lunch break. They are in and out before their breaks are over,” said Whidby.

What else keeps guests coming back? It’s the luxury feel and setting of European Wax Center.

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“When they walk past the glass door and into their wax suite, it’s a setting unlike anything else,” said Whidby. Guests are greeted by their Wax Specialist who will guide them back to their wax suite. Along the way guests see beautiful brick archways as soon as they enter the hallway.

“It’s eye-catching and that’s when we get that ‘wow,'” said Whidby.

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All of the Wax Specialists who work with European Wax Center in Manassas are state licensed and have graduated from esthetic or cosmetology schools. They are also required to complete an in-house training that ensures each Wax Specialist is providing the same level of excellent service to guests.

“We do more than just wax or remove unwanted hair; we reveal the natural, beautiful skin that remains. We educate our guests on proper skin care before and after their waxing,” said Whidby.

The Wax Specialists educate guests about how to hydrate their skin to prevent drying, and which products from European Wax Center’s exclusive product line they can able use so they can have better results as they continue to wax.

As part of the overall service, Wax Specialists educate guests on their exclusive four-step process, which prepares the skin before and after service, to make the waxing experience as comfortable as possible.

European Wax Center believes in the services provided, that a free service is offered to all new guests. “As long as you are a Virginia resident, we give a complimentary wax to first-time guests of European Wax Center,” said Whidby.

“We want our guests to try the products and services we have to offer. Women can get a complimentary eyebrow, underarm, or bikini line wax, or can upgrade to a Brazilian bikini wax for half-off the regular price. Men can get a free eyebrow, ear, or nose wax for their first visit.”

Packages are also offered to discount the price of services.

“For some services we have our unlimited wax pass where you can come in as often as you’d like for one year for that service,” said Whidby.  These passes are only available for the eyebrow, underarm, and bikini waxes.

The pre-paid wax pass allows guests to buy nine of the same service, and get three free where guests can save up to twenty-five percent off of their services. These passes are available for all of the services offered and the visits never expire, so guests have the flexibility to use their visits according to their own schedule.

“So for our regular guests that know they’re coming frequently, there are ways for them to save instead of paying full price every time,” said Whidby.

Leave the stress of the season behind! Shop Small in the City of Manassas

 

Shop for olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items

When it comes to holiday shopping, you can choose between two completely different experiences next week.

On Black Friday, you can rise before the sun and get ready to fight frenzied crowds. You can endure long lines as you frantically attempt to snag limited-time, mega deals on big-ticket items.

Or, on Small Business Saturday, you can instead enjoy a leisurely day browsing independently owned businesses, discovering unique gifts and specialty items, enjoying attentive customer service, and sitting down for a relaxing meal with friends and family.

There are many independently owned shops across the City of Manassas where fantastic, one-of-a-kind gifts are waiting for you on Saturday, November. 28.

In Historic Downtown Manassas, retailers will open early at 9 a.m. to welcome shoppers through their doors. You can park once and stroll for hours while finding something for everyone.  To get an idea of the wide range of retailers in the downtown, take a look at VisitManassas.org’s merchant directory.

Explore specialty boutiques that offer premium food from wine to olive oil, home décor, fashion, pottery, fair trade goods, jewelry, books, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, quilting supplies, and spiritual items. Leave the stress of the season behind! In between your purchases, pick up a warm beverage, take a spin around the ice-skating rink at the Harris Pavilion, and enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the independently owned restaurants.

If you have history buffs on your list, there is no better place to visit than Echoes, the Manassas Museum shop. It features a wide array of merchandise that celebrates local history and culture. From children’s toys to Civil War collectibles to souvenirs – you will find many distinctive presents here that are not available elsewhere.

For shoppers pressed for time, a drive along Liberia Avenue to The Shops at Signal Hill, the Fairview Shopping Center, and the Davis Ford Crossing Shopping Center will offer you the convenience of running errands, buying groceries, and shopping “small.”

Discoveries here will delight the people on your list who hard to shop for. You can find gifts for antique seekers, archers, coin and military memorabilia collectors, art enthusiasts, cyclists, foodies, and cigar connoisseurs. And, you can save time by not cooking and stopping into one of the ethnic eateries or your other local favorites here.

If you are cruising down Centreville Road, don’t miss stopping into one of the antique shops that could very well have that rare piece you have been looking for. There are also several niche boutiques that can satisfy very specific wish lists – like bowling supplies, dancewear, signature pieces of jewelry, and vinyl records.

The desire to “buy local” has been growing in popularity over the years. American Express, the force behind Small Business Saturday, estimates that shoppers spent a total of $14.3 billion at independent businesses in 2014. This spending significantly impacts a community. Studies have shown that for every $100 that is spent at an independently owned business, approximately $45 is re-spent in the local community. This is often because those business owners live locally and recirculate their earnings back into their hometowns, conduct business with other local establishments, make charitable donations, and put local employees on their payrolls.

On the flip side, for every $100 spent at a national chain business, only approximately $14 goes back to the local community.

For shoppers who love spending time at independent businesses, shifting a portion of their holiday dollars will make a difference in supporting their community and their favorite merchants. Show your love for your favorite shops and choose Small Business Saturday next week!

MOD Pizza opens first Virginia location at Promenade at Virginia Gateway in Gainesville

The Chipotle of pizza restaurants opens at noon on Friday.

MOD Pizza will open in the Promenade at Virginia Gateway in Gainesville. It’ the first location the Seattle-based chain has opened in Virginia.

MOD Pizza (Made on Demand) offers nine different kinds of pizza with predetermined ingredients such as mozzarella, gorgonzola, and asiago cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Customers can pick one from the menu, and just as they would at Subway or Chipotle, walk down a line and tell the pizza maker what additional toppings they want on their pie.

Pizza prices range between $10.87, $7.87, and $4.87 for a large, medium (MOD size), and small, respectively. The prices remain the same no matter how many toppings you put on your pizza.

MOD Pizza also offers salads, garlic and cinnamon strips, and milkshakes.

The eatery will give away prizes to the first 50 customers in line when it opens on Friday. Friends and family members of employees were invited into the eatery on Wednesday and treated to menu items so employees could do a dry run prior to opening day.

Flexible. Comforting. Helpful. What it takes to be an in-home Care Giver

It can take weeks for someone to get used to being cared for inside of their home.

The needs of seniors can change from week to week, or instantly. Marcus Evans, a Care Giver at Home Instead Senior Care in Manassas, makes it his job to know his client’s needs and to make them feel right at home. A typical day for Evans consists of starting the day early and meeting with clients, many of whom he considers his friends.

“I grow very attached to people when I take care of them,” said Evans, “and it’s something that’s personal for me.”

Knowing the needs of the client

Evans reviews his schedule for that particular day so that he knows what client he is meeting what time he needs to be there. Evans arrives at the house often earlier than he is scheduled so that he can provide extra help.

“I think it’s a relief for them when I arrive,” said Evans, “because they’re just so used to not having helped or anyone around the house.” Evans introduces himself and evaluates the client’s Plan of Care, a guide that tells Evans what he needs to do for that client including small projects.

“It can be anything. Sometimes it’d be something as simple as putting in a light bulb that they couldn’t reach, or sometimes it might be helping them take a shower,” said Evans.

Each individual Plan of Care that Evans evaluates for his clients may differ. He works with some clients in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings.

“For my clients, sometimes they’ll need help with getting dressed in the morning, making sure they’re brushing their teeth, hair is washed and everything like that,” said Evans. “Getting out of bed. Sometimes they may need a change if they are incontinent. They may need breakfast made. The house to be tidied up and things like that.”

Clients also have to feel welcomed and comforted.

“Now if it’s an afternoon client, I might need to come in, and I’ll make lunch and help them run errands or something like that,” said Evans. An evening patient they’ll need probably dinner and they’ll need me to tuck them in… make sure the house is straight… make sure their bed is nicely and neatly done and things like that.”

Properly dispensing medication also falls under Evans’ duties. Meeting client needs Patience is “crucial” in the field of caregiving.

“If you’re not patient, people are going to sense it,” said Evans, “They’re going to be very closed off, and they’re not going to be inviting and warm.”

Willingness to adapt 

As clients’ needs changes over time, Care Giver s must adapt. Changes can happen in a matter of hours, daily, weekly or monthly. “You have to hang in there. You have to be willing to adapt and accept change,” said Evans.

“That’s why I think that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this field because they’re not used to adapting on the fly as they would with a normal job where you just go in, and you clock in and you do the same thing every day.”

Evans says that it may take up to a few days, a few weeks, or even a month before a client is completely comfortable with someone taking care of them inside of their home. In most cases, Evans’ clients have never needed extra help or someone taking care of their every need.

“Sometimes they’ll verbalize in it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a look where it’s just like they’re smiling and I can tell at that moment they’re really happy with this. They’re really happy to have this help,” said Evans.

A rewarding career

Evans is Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, providing care for three years. He chose to work at Home Instead after working multiple types of jobs, but none seemed to be the perfect fit. It was while Evans was at a trade school that he was introduced to the field of medical assisting.

“The first class I took I was drawn to it immediately and I was like ‘I want to do this from now on,'” Evans said.

He achieved a certification in medical assisting and began searching for jobs in his field. However, Evans wanted a more personal type of relationship with patients that he felt he couldn’t get working at a doctor’s office. It was Evans’ mother that recommended him to Home Instead.

“I felt good. I felt like I’m really doing something that’s important for this guy because there was no one else with him and I was the only one there,” said Evans, about working with his first client. “…I felt like I was representing something good in his life that could be of service and help to him.”

Evans was named Care Giver of the Year at Home Instead and described the honor as both “overwhelming” and “unexpected”. Home Instead contacted Evans’ former clients and their families who gave glowing recommendations about Evans’ service and then interviewed Evans for the honor.

“To hear that I’m being esteemed in this way it blows me away…it was unbelievable to think that me just doing what I like doing people are going to recognize me in this way just for doing my job really,” said Evans.

Home Instead Senior Care provides in-home care to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

How you can open your home to a cultural exchange student

Interested in hosting international high school students? Want to share a piece of American culture with your student and learn from your student’s culture?

Since 1951, Youth for Understanding (YFU) has been hosting students in the U.S. and sending students abroad for cross cultural exchange. YFU hosts thousands of international students from around 70 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia every year. 

Christina Cox is a local elementary school teacher in Northern Virginia and spoke about her and her family’s experiences hosting international students and why you should too. 

 

1. What made you decide to begin hosting international students? 

I was approached at work by a co-worker that said her son’s high school was looking for volunteers to host. My sister was [an] exchange student with AFS and attended the University of Neufchatel in Switzerland, and in the past, my family had hosted a girl from Dijon, France, and another boy from the south of France.

Also, throughout my growing years, we often had visitors from Ecuador and Colombia. It was common for friends and relatives to send their kids to us for the summer to practice their English and learn more about American culture. Those experiences, combined with our own experiences of living in Canada, Eastern Europe, and Germany, gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

2. What year did you decide to open up your house?

We hosted our first exchange student, a young girl from France, in the summer of 2007. Our son, Alexander, was in middle school and our daughter, Mercedes, was entering high school. While she was a very sweet and easy-going guest, she wrote on her application that she spoke an intermediate level of English.

In fact, she spoke nearly no English. I had to interpret for her so she could communicate with the rest of the family. Once, when we were out to lunch, she and Mercedes had shared some tacos. When I asked if she wanted another one, she said, “sure, sure.” When I brought three more to the table, she scoffed and said, “no, no, no,” holding her stomach and indicating she was full and couldn’t eat anymore. We continue to laugh about that to this day.

3.  Favorite memories, moments?

The following year, we took a break from hosting, but the next year we were again approached by Terra Lingua [a different program], the exchange company, and asked to please consider taking a boy from Spain. He was Alexander’s age, was arriving in just over a week, and still had no host family. We accepted him, and that was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship between two boys and their families.

Inigo came to us from Bilboa, Spain. While he did speak a fair amount of English, he improved immensely through continued study in Spain as well as on his return visits to the U.S. Most recently, he stayed with us for his fourth time. He and his parents still communicate with us via Skype every few months. We keep up with each family’s happenings, as well as discuss what’s happening with each country’s politics, economy, and social issues. It makes for a candid and insightful exchange.

Alexander has also visited with Inigo’s family in Spain, even joining them on the family holiday to the Canary Islands. Some of our favorite memories were taking him camping for his very first time ever and introducing him to Dance Dance Revolution games.

Another funny memory is that we always thought we ate more than the Spanish family and that he was probably shocked. As it turns out, he now says he eats just as much and was always hungry, but didn’t want to be rude.

4. Why other families should consider becoming host families.

Other families should consider hosting a foreign exchange student because it allows you to share the best of American culture and the local area. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., this is simply a beautiful place, where people are kind, generous, and genuinely interested in creating positive relationships with people of other cultures. We have much to be proud of and much to share.

5. How rewarding is it to be able to host a student?

We loved being a host family. We know that there does not always exist an automatic chemistry between host and guests, but when there is such chemistry, it becomes an extension of your family. These are friendships that you can maintain for a lifetime.

6. How rewarding was it for your students? What do you think they gained?

I believe my children gained a great friend and extended family in Spain. I believe our guest gained an extended family here in the US and a much better understanding of the American way of life and culture. He can now speak from first hand experience about American culture and hospitality.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about being a host family with Youth for Understanding, please contact local Host Family Recruiter volunteer Amber Champ at amberbchamp@gmail.com and/or visit www.yfuusa.org for more information. 

Haymarket Food Pantry participates in #GivingTuesday

The Haymarket Regional Food Pantry (HRFP) has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and celebrate generosity.

Giving Tuesday is held each year after Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year’s event falls on December 1, 2015. This special day of giving was created to inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

501(c)3 tax exempt corporation, the HRFP was founded in 2004 to address hunger and food insecurity in Haymarket/Gainesville and the surrounding area. From its beginnings within the closet of a church office to its current operation in the town of Haymarket, the pantry is assisted by over 500 volunteers – none of whom are paid for their work.

The HRFP provides three days of food once per week to more than 2,400 individuals per month, fulfilling a vital need in the community. Two-thirds of the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry’s clients are children and senior citizens.

Some of the Food Pantry’s clients depend on this community organization as an extra source of food to make it through short-lived trials while others need longer term food assistance due to job loss, life-changing illness, medical bills, limited retirement income, single parent homes, seasonal job fluctuations, or just the reality of not earning enough money to keep food on the table.

“With the approach of winter, our donation of food goods goes down significantly but the need does not,” shared HRFP Executive Director, Eileen Smith. “Your gift on #GivingTuesday can keep our shelves from becoming empty this winter and spring.” Dennis Corrigan, an HRFP Board member and the President of Mosquito Joe, one of several corporate sponsors said, “We in the U.S. are fortunate to have significant federal, state and local organizations who serve those in need. But the reality is that often bureaucracy takes time to solve the systemic issues that cause food insufficiency. The HRFP recognized that food is a daily need, one which they can provide immediately. Providing food is a cause with immediate benefits for those who need it and for which I am glad to support.”

This year marks the first time that the Food Pantry will be participating in #GivingTuesday. A cultural center in New York City, 92Y conceptualized #GivingTuesday as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage giving.

In 2014, the third year of the movement, #GivingTuesday brought together 30,000 partners in 68 countries and registered 32.7 million impressions on Twitter, with its hashtag mentioned 698,600 times. Since 2012, online giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has increased more than four-fold, based on findings by Blackbaud and the Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, produced in partnership with the Case Foundation How Can You Support the HRFP on #GivingTuesday?

There are two things you can do to make the Food Pantry’s #GivingTuesday efforts a success

First, you can visit the Food Pantry website at HaymarketFoodPantry.org/GivingTuesday and make a donation.

“The more people that participate, the greater our success,” explains Smith. “Any amount is genuinely appreciated. Working together, we can make a real difference in the lives of individuals and families who literally may not be able to eat without the resources of the Food Pantry.”

The second way to help is to spread the word, and technology makes that easy to do. Let your family and friends know via email or share information on Facebook about the Food Pantry’s #GivingTuesday drive on Tuesday, December 1.

Give them the opportunity to support the work of the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry and ask them to spread the word too. 

Raised BPOL thresholds good for small business, bad for county coffers

Increasing the threshold of the infamous BPOL tax in Prince William County is just the start of the conversation.

The BPOL tax (business and professional licensing tax) is collected on the amount of gross receipts from licensed local businesses that generate at least $250,000 in gross sales. Tax rates vary between 5 cents and 33 cents per every $100. The tax collects $26.5 million in annual revenue for the county.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted earlier this year to increase the “BPOL threshold” from $250,000 to $300,000 in 2016. The plan to be voted on Tuesday calls for subsequent threshold increases to $350,000, $400,000, $450,000, and $500,000 in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, respectively.

By 2020 under the plan, the county would lose nearly $1 million in tax funding. To recoup the loss, the county plans to add a 3 cent per every $100 in funds received by federally-funded companies doing research or development in the computer and science fields.

The plan has bi-partisan among Democrats and Republican members of the Board of Supervisors.

“As part of the budget discussion earlier this year, my colleagues and I agreed that we needed to be doing more to help existing small businesses grow and thrive, and we needed to continue reducing barriers to new firms entering the market,” stated Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi in an email.

“There is no question that small firms create more net jobs than do large firms – and this resolution is designed specifically to help create new jobs while simultaneously fostering new investment and promoting innovation. Couple this with the fact that Prince William County has some of the lowest taxes in Northern Virginia, and you see us taking another important step toward making Prince William County a more desirable place to do business.”

The move could also be good for start-up businesses.

“…It is my hope and expectation that this change will strengthen and retain existing businesses and attract new ones, particularly small business start-ups who are very sensitive to the adverse impacts of the BPOL tax,” stated Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe, in an email obtained by Potomac Local.

“It is further my hope that this increase in small business activity will allow market forces to drive an increased overall valuation in commercial properties, which will make at least some small dent in the residential-to-commercial real estate tax ratio/tax base.”

The Prince William Chamber has long urged Prince William officials to raise the threshold. Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wants to phase out the BPOL tax completely for small businesses.

“We’re not looking at doing this for the Walmarts or Targets that aren’t really impacted by this… these aren’t the kinds of businesses we are targeting for economic development, anyway,” said Stewart.

The conversation on just how to phase out the tax for small businesses will take “several months.” The details, to include what defines a small business that would be totally exempt from BPOL, and what funding source will replace the lost BPOL revenues, still need to be worked out.

The Board is expected to vote on the matter during their 2 p.m. meeting.

Manassas is bucking the national trend and welcoming younger entrepreneurs to the city

A wave of business owners under the age of 35 has been bringing both new energy and great new destinations to the City of Manasass.

This activity comes at a time when the rate of entrepreneurship among young Americans has been falling across the U.S. While the Kauffman Foundation recorded the lowest rate of entrepreneurship in 17 years among people between the ages of 20 to 34, the City has been attracting this demographic.

Some of the forces driving this trend include a local culture of support for independent businesses, a collaborative business environment, and a strong sense of community.

There is no greater encouragement for an entrepreneur than the vote of confidence that support from the community can bring. Sean Arroyo, the CEO and co-founder of Heritage Brewing Company, used Kickstarter to see if locals would get behind his brewery concept.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform through which business owners can make sales pitches to raise money for their ideas. He met his goal and raised more than $20,000 from 166 backers three years ago. Support for Heritage continues to grow. A planned expansion will make it the second largest brewery in the state.

“It was funded mostly by people in and around Manassas and Northern Virginia,” said Arroyo. “It signaled to us that people want us here.”

Strong local support makes locating in Manassas an obvious choice for other business owners, too. Chase Hoover, co-owner of The Bone barbecue restaurant, says his family has been involved with businesses in Manassas for generations. Opening The Bone in the City was a “no-brainer” for him because he likes being in a community with so many independently owned businesses and strong support for buying local.

“The hospitality industry in Downtown Manassas is made up of many young entrepreneurs, which gives the city an energetic, unique flair you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hoover. “We love working with the other [local] restaurant owners to put on special events such as the weekly live music and numerous festivals throughout the year.  It is truly a small town where everyone works together toward the common goal of bringing great food and a great experience to visitors and locals alike.”

Miguel Pires, the owner of Zandra’s Taqueria, also cites the spirit of the community as a factor for opening his business in the City. He says he was raised in his family’s restaurants – Carmello’s and Monza – and worked as a general manager for both establishments for 10 years. When the time had come to open Zandra’s, Pires chose Manassas because he “wanted to continue to expand downtown’s culinary experience.” 

Chris Sellers, the owner of CJ Finz, credits the small-scale buildings in the historic downtown for giving restaurants a more intimate feel and an opportunity to focus on customer service.

“The restaurants here aren’t commercialized,” he said. “We get to build a connection to the community through each table that we serve.”

Business owners who are active with community organizations and civic groups strengthen that connection to the City even more. “People like me, Miguel, and others are excited about being the next leaders of the downtown,” said Sellers.

Entrepreneurs of any age can take advantage of area support services to get their business idea off the ground and join this community. The City’s Economic Development Department’s staff members are available to discuss the local economy, business ideas, great sites for locating new establishments, incentives, and the steps in starting a business.

Also, training and advice is available from George Mason University’s Mason Enterprise Centers, the Community Business Partnership, and the Flory Small Business Center (by referral).

J. Crew Mercantile to open at Virginia Gateway

A new J. Crew Mercantile store will open at on the Promenade at Virginia Gateway in Gainesville.

The 6,300 square foot store will offer J. Crew merchandise for men, women, and children at value prices. It will be the first store of its kind in the Washington, D.C. area.

J. Crew Mercantile brand was launched in July of this year by J. Crew Group, according to a press release from Peterson Companies, which owns Virginia Gateway. The company operates more than 260 J. Crew stores.

Virginia Gateway advertises itself as the “social hub” of western Prince William County with 1.3 million square feet of commercial space. The center includes Loft, White House Black Market, Trummer’s Coffee and Wine Bar, Firebirds, BJ’s Brewhouse, Uncle Julio’s, and a 14-screen Regal Cinemas.

Plans to open a Cabela’s at Virginia Gateway fell through this week after the company announced to lower the expected third-quarter earnings statements.

More in a statement from Cabela’s:

“Consolidated comparable store sales were down 4.2% for the quarter,” Millner said. “U.S. comparable store sales were down 3.3%. In both the United States and Canada, our customers have been slow to transition to fall apparel and footwear products. We were encouraged by positive comp performance in many of our core categories, including camping, power sports, home and gifts, firearms, and ammunition.”

“Our new format stores continue to significantly outperform our legacy stores in sales and profit per square foot, yet our U.S. stores opened in 2015 have underperformed our expectations,” Millner said. “Accordingly, we are evaluating our 2016 and 2017 store opening schedule. At this time, we plan to open seven stores in 2016 and no more than that in 2017. We have a number of initiatives underway to improve new store productivity and profitability, which gives us confidence in our long-term goal of 225 stores in North America.”

“We are obviously disappointed with Cabela’s statements, and it is important to note that the terms of the lease they executed do not grant them the ability to pursue the course they are proposing for this location.

How VDOT will use a jet snow melter to fight Old Man Winter

Coming to a commuter lot near you this winter (if it snows): A jet-powered snow melter.

The Virginia Department of Transportation gave us an annual look at how they plan to do battle with Old Man Winter this year. It’s the agency’s job to keep more than 17,000 lane miles in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties clear of snow and ice. About half of those roads are major highways and heavily-traveled arterials while the other half is neighborhood streets.

VDOT last year spent $128.5 million on snow removal in Northern Virginia — more than double the $50.5 million budget. This year, VDOT has $70.7 million to spend on snow removal. A series of winter weather outlooks published this week, including one on Capital Weather Gang, indicate at least one major winter storm for our region this season.

The state has an online website that tracks what streets have been plowed after it snows. It’s a popular feature that VDOT continues to urge residents to use.

“Each year, we strive to improve our winter operations both on the road and behind the scenes,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s maintenance engineer for northern Virginia in a statement. “We continue to encourage residents to use the website for real-time information on their neighborhoods during snow storms. Over two years, we’ve seen hits to the site increase while customer calls decrease, as residents check road conditions, locations of our trucks and the progress of our crews.”

Residents in Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun may go to the site, enter their address, and see whether or not plowing in their neighborhood has begun or has been completed. They can also track the locations of snow plows.

The agency also listed some tools in the snow removal fight to be used this year:

A jet-powered snow melter for park-n-ride lots where snow piles can block spaces.

Seven high-pressure flush trucks clear snow and ice around the bollards separating the I-495 Express Lanes and regular lanes.

Two front loaders with 20-foot blades plow interstates during severe storms.

Speed-activated anti-icing equipment puts the right amount of material on the road.

VDOT will also continue to pre-treat 850 miles of highway before the first snowflake falls.

350 lane miles on interstates—including bridges and ramps prone to freezing such as the Springfield interchange and Capital Beltway at Route 1—with liquid magnesium chloride.

500 lane miles on major roads, such as Fairfax County Parkway, routes 1, 7, 28, 29, and 50, are pre-treated with salt brine. Brine (77 percent water, 23 percent salt) prevents ice from bonding to the road surface, reduces the need for salt to melt ice, is kinder to the environment and can lower snow removal time and costs.

The agency will also deploy more employees to monitor snow plowing operations, and will continue a 2-year test a brine mixture that is used to pre-treat roads. Using brine to treat roads has been successful in western U.S. states and it could reduce the need for salt use here in Virginia, according to a VDOT statement.

Pedestrian stuck and killed on Linton Hall Road

Update 

 The victim in the fatal crash investigation is identified as 64-year-old Girma Genemo, of Gainesville.

Police released this update in the fatal pedestrian crash investigation: 

Fatal Crash Investigation – On November 12th at 6:28AM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the 8200 block of Linton Hall Rd in Gainesville (20155) to investigate a vehicle crash involving a pedestrian. The investigation revealed that a pedestrian was crossing Linton Hall Rd in the area above when he was struck by the driver of 2009 Cadillac CTS who was traveling northbound. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Cadillac was not injured and remained at the scene of the crash. Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in this crash. Speed is also not believed to be a factor for the driver of the Cadillac. No charges are pending at this time. The investigation continues into the cause of this collision.

Identified:

The pedestrian was identified as Girma GENEMO, 64, of Gainesville

 

The driver of the 2009 Cadillac CTS was identified as a 39 year old man of Manassas

Original post

Police are investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian in Gainesville. 

Here’s more in a statement from police: 

*INCIDENT:Fatal Pedestrian Crash Investigation | Gainesville

Investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit are currently investigating a fatal crash involving a vehicle and a pedestrian which occurred this morning around 6:30AM in the 8200 block of Linton Hall Rd in Gainesville (20155).

The pedestrian, an adult male, was pronounced dead at the scene. The striking vehicle remained on scene. Further information will be released when available. The roadway has been reopened.

How Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas matches the right CAREGiver to your loved one

Editors note: This paid promotional post was written by Potomac Local in collaboration with Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas, serving Prince William and Fauquier counites.

Matching the right CAREGiver to the right client is a very serious and rewarding job.

Gail Earhart is the Relationships Manager for Home Instead Senior Care located in Manassas, which provides local CAREgivers to seniors in Prince William, Fairfax, and Fauquier counties.

“On a daily basis a lot of what I do is in the staffing department because we have clients on any given day…or up to any given week we could have up to 60 to 70 shifts to fill,” said Earhart.

However, filling the slots with CAREGivers isn’t the easiest task to complete. One of the biggest challenges Earhart and the staffing team faces when filling shifts is that each client has different needs, and each CAREGiver has a different preference.

“So you might have a client who has a dog or a cat and then you have a CAREGiver, who won’t go to somebody who has a dog or a cat,” said Earhart. “Or you have a client who has Alzheimer’s so we have to ensure that we have a CAREGiver, who’s seasoned working with somebody who has Alzheimer’s.”

 

Consultation 

Finding out the preferences and needs for both client and CAREGiver are important steps in delivering quality care. It starts at the beginning by consulting with new clients by Client Care Coordinators.

“Our Client Care Coordinators go out, and when they’re doing a consultation they find all this information out,” said Earhart. The Client Care Coordinators then return and tell staffing what exactly their client needs and the appropriate type of CAREgiver for their client.

Home Instead has 200 CAREGivers, which seems like a daunting task when matching the right CAREGiver to the right client. However, members of staffing know the CAREGivers so well they make it their job to know who is the right fit for their client.

Recently, Earhart completed a consultation of a client who was described by his daughter as “narrow minded” and “stubborn.”

In this case, the family requested a CAREGiver who was assertive and not someone young who the client can potentially take advantage of. So Home Instead matched the correct CAREGiver to the client who would make sure the client did what might seem the most basic of things, eat regular meals and shower on a regular basis.

 

Filling specific needs 

Sometimes, clients can be very particular about finding the right CAREGiver. And that’s OK. Many times families prefer non-smokers in the home or simply a companion for their loved one.

“Sometimes they say ‘I want a really talkative CAREGiver. Somebody’s who’s going to sit with my mom for three hours and just talk about life’ and we have that and that’s part of our service,” said Earhart.

Much of a CAREGiver’s role is “filling that gap” when a family member needs to go out when they can’t be with their loved one. Which is why it’s so important for a perfect match to exist between client and CAREGiver.

“The last thing I want to do is send somebody in there who’s a very quiet CAREGiver. We have those too so we want to make that perfect match,” said Earhart,” …but we tell every client if we don’t send the correct CAREGiver, if there isn’t a match, it doesn’t feel like a good fit, call us because we can send you somebody else.”

Successfully matching clients and CAREGivers can sometimes be an “ongoing process,” but when that perfect match happens and the client or client’s family sends positive feedback there’s no better feeling.

A care consultation can take up to an hour and a half .

“The first probably 45 minutes is just talking to the family, getting to know the family, finding out what their needs are. We have a complete form [and] we’re taking notes the entire time,” said Earhart.

It’s within these first 45 minutes do Client Care Coordinators know whether or not the client will be signed up. The last 30 minutes is dedicated to paperwork but discussion still happens between the family and client and Client Care Coordinator.

 

The best and most common questions families ask Client Care Coordinators include:

 

What type of CAREGiver will be sent to me?
Are they certified, bonded, or insured?
Do CAREGivers do drug testing?
Will the CAREGiver be permanent or temporary?

 

“Obviously our goal is to have permanency so if somebody is scheduled Monday, Wednesday, Friday they want the same person,” said Earhart.

However, it’s not a guarantee that clients will always have the same CAREGiver. It may take between two to three weeks to find the best two CAREGivers for clients in case one CAREGiver needs to call out in the future.

Some clients need around the clock care and see up to three CAREGivers each day.

“When we have a 24/7 client, we work on having 24/7 teams. We’ve had a client now for almost two years that has the same eight CAREGivers on that team” said Earhart. “They just rotate through the week and then the weekend.”

 

If its not working

It can be hard for families to initiate the conversation that a CAREGiver isn’t working out.

“We do get those phone calls and it might be ‘my dad’s just not hitting it off with this CAREGiver’,” said Earhart, “or maybe it’s something that the client unfortunately just doesn’t like about the CAREGiver and that’s okay too because not everybody makes a connection, not everybody makes a hit.”

To find out why a match isn’t successful, Earhart normally gets to the center of the problem. For example, if a family complains that the CAREGiver is on the phone too much steps will be taken to correct that and no further action needs to be taken. Or the family loves the CAREGiver but the CAREGiver can’t cook or complete a certain skill that properly fulfills the client’s needs.

“Jeannie Carroll is our CAREGiver Retention Coordinator and she has the best job here I think at Home Instead because she works directly with the CAREGivers,” said Earhart.

Jeannie spends 30 days with the CAREGivers, accompanies them on their first shift, and supervises them for 30 days to monitor their progress.

 

Making it a success 

What helps to make success more likely for both client and CAREGiver is that initial intake and assessment that has all of the client’s needs and preferences. When a CAREGiver is first assigned to a client, they must read everything about that client and if a CAREGiver’s preferences don’t match with the client’s, another CAREGiver can be assigned before one is sent to the client.

Journals are provided to the family and client to take note of the daily care received and if something raises questions, Home Instead can be contacted. Phone numbers are not exchanged between client or the client’s family and CAREGiver so that everything goes through Home Instead’s office.

“No client is ever left without somebody, so whatever it takes we’re going to be there,” said Earhart. 

VRE wants to begin service to Haymarket, Gainesville by 2022

Residents Tuesday night packed the lecture hall at Gainesville Middle School to hear about plans to extend Virginia Railway Express to their neighborhood.

The state’s only commuter railroad is conducting a 2-year, $4 million planning and engineering a study to examine the impacts and costs of extending VRE’s Manassas line west, and building a new station at Innovation Park at George Mason University in Manassas, in Gainesville, and in Haymarket.

Up to two trains per hour would run along the new line, dubbed the Norfolk-Southern “B-line” which branches off VRE’s main Manassas line to Haymarket. The B line is used today by freight trains, but the addition of up to two more sets of tracks would clear the way for commuter rail service to begin in 2022.

AECOM Technical Services was awarded the study contract. The firm will examine potential impacts such as noise, as well as the effects that a new commuter rail line would have on historical sites and the environment.

Norfolk-Southern owns the rail line on which VRE operates its Manassas line and the B-line. If new tracks are built, it’s possible taxpayers could foot the bill for construction, and Norfolk-Southern would be responsible for building and maintaining the tracks. A similar deal was struck between the state and railroad operator CSX, which owns tracks VRE uses to operate Fredericksburg line trains when VRE completed a recent expansion to Spotsylvania County.

The Manassas line currently ends at Broad Run at the Manassas Regional Airport, where the parking lot is consistently full of vehicles parked there by train riders during weekdays. Maps presented by VRE show riders who use the station come from all over western Prince William County, as well as Fauquier County and points further west.

New stations on the B-line would attract some riders who now use Broad Run station. That would free up parking for new riders who would use the station today if they could, said Christine Hoeffner, VRE’s planning manager.

Some residents say extending the rail line west would only cause more out-of-county users to board trains at the newer stations, creating more traffic on area roads. They likened a new station in Haymarket to the Vienna Metro rail station at the end of the system’s Orange line, which draws hordes of commuters from the western suburbs who use Metro to get to work in Washington, D.C.

“If you put a station in Haymarket, you’re incentivizing people who live in Warren, Shenandoah, all the way down to Orange to drive here to use it,” said Bob Wier, a former Haymarket Town planning commissioner.

Wier also asked about a 2009 study that was conducted by VRE to examine train noise that would be generated by a rail extension to Haymarket. Hoeffner said the results of that $1.7 million study are still available to the be viewed by the public, but that the study underway now will provide a better overall view of what it will take to expand the commuter rail system.

Prince William County paid $5.7 million in jurisdictional contributions to the commuter rail system in 2014. It is consistently the highest-paying contributor of the nine counties and cities that pay into VRE, to include the cities of Manassas and Alexandria, and Fairfax and Arlington counties because more riders from Prince William use the system.

That number is likely to rise with any new expansion of the Manassas line. Prince William County officials are asking VRE by how much, said Hoeffner. Those numbers won’t be available until spring when a new series of public meetings will be held to update the public on the progress of the study, she said.

Manassas Park Community Center starts ‘thank you’ pandemic to spread gratefulness

Don’t be alarmed, but in case you hadn’t heard summer is over and the Thanksgiving season is here.

Now is the season where people make a special effort to recount all the things they are thankful for in their lives. For many, it has become a tradition to share this list at the dinner table on Thanksgiving before eating.

Being mindful of your gratitude helps make you a happier person and, as happiness is contagious, it will make others around you happier as well. While it’s a wonderful and fun tradition to practice during Thanksgiving, the benefits of gratefulness can be enjoyed year round.

However, being grateful and focusing on what you are grateful for isn’t enough.

It’s easy to neglect to use the phrase, “thank you,” but those two simple words carry so much meaning. Thank you can reinforce and strengthen bonds we share with others.

When you say thank you to the person who makes your lunch in the morning, to your child who finishes their chores, or to your favorite cashier ringing up your purchase you express that you value that individual. Regardless of how monotonous, simple, or mandatory the task is, it should always be acknowledged and appreciated verbally.

Remember, gratefulness spreads happiness, but how can you express gratitude if you never say “thank you?”

Why do people neglect to say thank you? There are probably a myriad of reasons beyond my scope of knowledge and it’s easy to compile a list of cynical reasons – but let’s not create an anti-grateful list during the season of gratitude.

Instead let’s challenge each other to say a sincere and genuine thank you every day. Say it 10 times. Say it 100 times. Thank you is a rare phrase that has meaning no matter how frequently it is repeated.

Once you start saying thank you to others you’ll instantly notice others will start saying thank you to you. If happiness is contagious, and gratitude creates happiness, then it shouldn’t be surprising gratitude is contagious as well.

I’d like to start this gratitude pandemic. From me and on behalf of the entire City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, we’d like to thank you for all that you do. Even if we haven’t met yet, thank you. If we have met, thank you. Thank you for visiting our parks and our community center and giving value to the work that we do here. You are our community and we are here to work together to build our community up together.

To add further meaning behind our gratitude and to help spread our gratitude we are offering two specials this month. On Thursdays (through November 19) you can donate 10 non-perishable food items in order to receive 10% off a Basic or All-Access membership at the Manassas Park Community Center.  

From November 27 through December 4, we will be launching our ‘Friends and Family’ promotion where we share our employee discount with all of you. During that week only, you can get a Basic membership for 25% off.

For more details please contact us at 703-335-8872.

Delayed start for commuter bus service from Dale City, Lake Ridge to Mark Center

New commuter bus service from Woodbridge to the Mark Center in Alexandria is delayed.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission on Monday said plans for new buses between Dale City and Lake Ridge to the Mark Center would start in mid-January, about a month later than originally planned. A new ramp from Interstate 395 to Seminary Road was supposed to have been constructed by this fall, but work continues the ramp, according to PRTC.

The new commuter service will begin as soon as the ramp opens.

Commuters will pay $8.30 for a one-way fare on for the bus, $6.20 if using SmarTrip. There will be four morning and evening trips for both the Dale City and Lake Ridge buses.

The Dale City bus will serve a commuter lot at Gemini Way, and stops along Dale Boulevard before proceeding to I-95. The Lake Ridge bus will serve commuter lots at Tacketts Mill, Minnieville and Old Bridge roads, and the Old Bridge & Route 123 commuter lot before heading north on I-95.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will pick up the cost of the new bus service as a means of mitigating congestion on I-395.

The transit service faces a $9 million shortfall that could hamper existing service by 2017. So far, local officials aren’t talking about it.

PRTC on Monday also announced small changes in service as part of its annual fall service change: 

Manassas OmniRide buses will no longer serve Williamson Boulevard. Additionally, three more AM Manassas OmniRide trips will become express trips, originating at the Portsmouth Commuter Lot. This is in addition to the three express trips on the current AM schedule.

 There will be minor map and timetable changes to some other routes.

New high school to use old floor plan after School Board motion fails

School officials will move ahead with a plan to use a 20-year-old design for the county’s newest high school.

The “13th high school” will be built somewhere in western Prince William County — either at a proffered site at the yet-to-be-approved Stonehaven development or Rollins Ford Road on a site bequeathed to the county by its former owner to be used for parkland.

The new school will cost $73.7 million and is slated to open in fall 2020. The price tag includes $4.3 million in needed improvements to the school building that make it complaint with current building codes, to include vestibules to entrances, and energy efficiency improvements to the roof and HVAC unit.

The school will hold 2,053 students. It is expected to be filled to capacity three to four years after it opens.

Unlike recently built schools like Patriot High School in Nokesvile, and the new Colgan High School to open next year on Route 234 near Independent Hill, the new building will look more like Battlefield, Freedom, Forest Park, and Hylton high schools.

The design is less expensive, and the county School Board resolved to use this design after it was criticized for approving construction of Colgan High School, one of the most costliest ever to be built in Virginia with a $111 million price tag. An aquatics facility and performing arts center are major price drivers for the school currently under construction near Independent Hill.

On November 4, the School Board was tasked with deciding whether to rescind a 2014 decision to use the older Battlefield model for all new high schools, and instead use build a hybrid model minus some of the the bells and whistles of the Patriot and Colgan models, like a smaller auditorium. The hybrid model did include space for 500 more students than the Battlefield model.

The motion to rescind the resolution, put forward by Brentsville District representative Gil Trenum and seconded by Gainesville rep Alyson Satterwhite, failed in a tie vote.

“Based on new hybrid, it would cost us $33,200 per seat… that’s a 22% cost reduction for cost per student,” Trenum.

The cost for using the more expensive model is about $42,700 per seat, he added.

Occoquan District rep Lillie Jessie argued for the smaller model and said the money could be better spent removing children from trailer classrooms at schools in eastern Prince William County and moving them into classrooms inside school buildings. School officials also said the Patriot model offers more windows for natural light.

“I have a real problem with providing more space and more lighting. There are ways to provide lighting in schools without building another model,” said Jessie. “I have 2nd graders in trailers that have no windows. I’m having a real problem with that.”

Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts said more than 4,000 new elementary school seats will be added in eastern portion of the county before the 13th high school opens, by adding on rooms to existing schools and with the construction of three new elementary schools.

“It’s not about east vs. west,” said Satterwhite, a direct comment to Jessie. “Let’s drop this east-west garbage. Let’s stop saying you can’t have this because ‘we’ve already approved the plan,’ or that ‘other children have needs.’

“I don’t usualy get mad and my blood pressuer is sky high, please think about our students,” Satterwhite added.

Neabsco District rep Lisa Bell adamantly opposed building another school based on the Patriot design, but she also encouraged the school system to rethink how its constructs its schools. With the number of available new school sites shrinking, Bell urged school staff to consider building three story buildings that take up less space than the required 80 acres needed for a new high school.

The School Board must now wait to see where the new school will be built. A proffered site at Stonehaven could come if the Prince William County Board of Supervisors approves the 1,006-home development in the Linton Hall Road corridor. 

The Board of Supervisors tabled a vote on Stonehaven last year, but School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns said a decision to approve or deny the site could come by January. The opening of the 13th high school would likely be delayed if a site is not chosen by January, he added.

Prince William traffic unit helps keep drivers safe on roads

Traffic is one the most common complaints from those who live around here. That means officers in the Prince William County Police Department Traffic Unit have job security.

The 21 police officers that make up the traffic enforcement unit are easy to spot on their blue motorcycles.

Many times you’ll see posted on the side of the road running speed checks using LiDAR, a device that uses lasers to scan a larger portion of a roadway full of cars coming and going, more so than standard radar speed detection.

The officers in this unit write hundreds of speeding tickets per month. It’s not because they’re avoiding fighing “real crime,” or that they’re trying to “fill a monthly quota” of written speed tickets, as the common misconceptions state. They’re out to keep drivers safe.

“It’s an uneasy feeling to get stopped by police,” said Master Police Officer Steve Bennett, who’s been with the Prince William County Police Department for 17 years.

Bennett sat in an unmarked police cruiser at the corner of Spriggs and Lindendale roads in Dale City. He used a LiDAR detector and scanned the field of oncoming and passing cars.

He picked his spot carefully. By the time drivers reach this spot, they should have been able to see the posted speed signs three times, said Bennett.

“We try to be as visible as possible. We don’t hide behind trees or behind signs,” he said.

Most cars traveled the posted 45 mph speed limit, or just a few mph over. A few cars traveled in packs but barely exceeded the speed limit.

A Prince William County school bus stopped in front of a daycare center, blocked traffic in the right lane while sitting with its yellow flashing lights on for about two minutes before putting on its red lights and discharging a child. Most drivers approaching the bus from behind saw yellow and correctly slowed down but passed the bus. Another approaching driver in the left lane saw yellow lights and incorrectly stopped, briefly halting traffic on Spriggs Road.

The bus and subsequent traffic obstruction wasn’t in the road long enough for Bennett to issue a warning. Bennett sees instances like these, and situations where drivers cut off other drivers by pulling out in front of them, and drivers texting behind the wheel all day long.

But just when he thought this stretch of Spriggs Road was safe, Bennett spotted a white Lexus traveling at 60 mph toward Saunders Middle School.

Bennet first spotted the speeder, and then used his LiDAR detector to confirm the infraction. He pulled into traffic and pursued the driver by putting on lights and siren. The driver pulled over into a right turn lane indicating he was coming to a complete stop, but then oddly pulled back out into the right travel lane and then came to a full stop.

Bennett got out of his car and approached the driver and asked him to pull into the school parking lot up ahead. The driver did.

“I don’t ask ‘do you know why I stopped you,” explained Bennett. “I feel like it’s trapping them into admitting something they did wrong.”

Now with the driver, Bennett showed the digital readout on the LiDAR detector that indicated he had been traveling 15 mph over the posted speed limit. Bennett then came back to the police car where he ran the driver’s license and registration with the help of a radio dispatcher.

Bennett wrote a ticket and presented it to the driver, and he was on his way. He would most likely repeat that process again before the day ends, he said.

Traffic on area roads is often congested, forcing commuters to spend hours traveling to and from work. When it’s moving, the LiDAR tool helps police officers scan the entire width of roads for speeders. It is especially helpful for officers patrolling the wider four and six lane roads in Prince William County.

The LiDAR system looks like a set of binoculars that an officer holds up and points toward traffic. A laser sends out 200 pulses per second across the roadway. Fifty pulses per second bounce back from moving vehicles, and those return pulses tell the LiDAR detector how fast the cars are traveling, said Bennett.

Police cars are also outfitted with traditional radar systems that can indicate the speed of vehicles traveling behind and in front of the officer. These tools, along with visual indicators, help police stop speeders.

When not doing speed enforcement, officers in the traffic unit assist patrol officers when responding to calls for help from county residents, and assist officers and fire and rescue crews called to the scene of traffic crashes.

One of those crashes involved one of their own when Officer Chris Yung on his police motorcycle was struck by a minivan and killed while responding to a call for help on New Years Eve 2012. Yung was the third Prince William officer to die in the line of duty since the department was founded in 1970.

Bennett urges drivers to leave the house earlier, to pad a little more “time and patience” into their commute.

“When you leave late, you get into the mindset of beating the clock, and you often say ‘now I’m late.’ I know because I’m the same way.” said Bennett. “But I’ve seen that if I leave earlier, and I know I’ve got an extra 10 minutes, I’m more apt to let someone merge in front of me so we can all get where we’re going.”

Volunteers needed for Dumfries Christmas parade, tree lighting

Volunteers are needed for the Dumfries Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 5, 2015.

The parade will start at noon, and the tree lighting will start at 5 p.m.

Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and have the opportunity to serve the community.

Interested parties should contact Community Services Director Brittany Heine at 703-221-3400, ext 144 or by email Bheine[at]dumfriesva.gov.

Dominion backs overhead route for Haymarket power line

Update

Senator Dick Black talked to Potomac Local about Dominion’s decision to urge the placement of a new power line in Haymarket above ground instead of a hybrid option that included a portion of the power line built above ground and a portion below.

“This what we had been worried about, and had rallying people over.
We had greatly hoped Dominion would recommend the underground route along I-66.”

“The battle will shift to the State Corporation Commission, and we intend to continue fighting it all the way all the way through the process.”

Original post

Dominion Virginia Power will petition Virginia’s State Corporation Commission to build an overhead power line in Haymarket.

The power line would run from the intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 234 Bypass) and Interstate 66, down I-66 west to Haymarket. The controversial powerline would impact those living in the Haymarket area, and homeowners said the overhead line would lower property values and create an eyesore for the neighborhood.

Politicians, the activist group Coalition to Protect Prince William County, and residents over the summer argued for a hybrid route that would have placed a portion of the 230-kilovolt transmission line underground, and a portion overhead.

Dominion says overhead power lines are more efficient, have a longer, life, are easier to build and maintain. By building the power line along I-66, the utility plans to take advantage of shared right-of-way with I-66 and to “maximize existing infrastructure.”

Dominion reviewed several alternatives published on its project site but said the overhead plan provides the shortest and most direct route to a newly proposed Haymarket substation.

Dominion says the power line is needed to meet growing electricity demand in Northern Virginia. Senator Richard “Dick” Black and published news reports state the new power line will serve a new Amazon data center to be built in Prince William County.

Dominion held a series of public hearings about the proposed power line earlier this year. The utility will file their proposal with the State Corporation Commission tomorrow. It could take up to 18 months before a final decision is made on where and how to build the power line. 

Here’s more from the Dominion press release:

After receiving extensive feedback from the community, VDOT and VRE, we have made some slight tweaks to the I-66 overhead route from what was shown at the July Open House to address potential pinch points between Dominion, VDOT and VRE. The route now parallels the north side of I-66 for the first three miles instead of running along the south side where the alignment was previously.

Regarding Alternatives in our SCC application:
· As previously presented in our July Open House, the I-66 Overhead/Underground “Hybrid” Route, Railroad Route, Carver Route and Madison Route are presented in the application as alternatives.
· We clearly note that the New Road Route, Northern Alternative and Wheeler Route are rejected options.
· Further details can be found in the application and the routing study once the application is filed and made public.
· We will post the filing to the project page on dom.com

Regarding SCC process:
· Once we file, the next steps are:
1. SCC creates a public electronic docket on the case that will be available on its website for Case No. PUE-2015-00107 (we will link to the docket as well from dom.com)
2. SCC will assign a Hearing Examiner to precede over the case
3. It typically takes about three weeks or so from the time of filing for the Commission to issue an order setting out the procedural schedule, which includes when the public comment period opens and closes, any public hearing dates and locations, when interested parties can formally join the case, when SCC Staff and Dominion testimony is due, and when the Evidentiary Hearing will be held.
4. The entire process could take up to, on average, 18 months for a decision to be rendered by the Commission.

· We cannot thank the many people – residents, public officials, community leaders – enough for their valued input.

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