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Move over 95 Express, toll lanes wanted on I-66

New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week

There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.

Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.

Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.

“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.

A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.

After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.

New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope

As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.

“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.

In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’

Land sits in the way

VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.

The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.

State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.

Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.

How Prince William schools stack up, on average, for teacher pay

Neighboring counties pay entry-level teachers more

As the Prince William County School Board gears up for another budget cycle, it is timelier than ever to look closely at an important topic in local education – the current state of teacher pay in the county.

The average annual teacher salary, according to Jim Livingston, the Prince William Education Association president is $60,408 – a figure he pulled from a 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education  (WABE) report.  

Phil Kavits, spokesman for Prince William County Public Schools, stated that the average annual teacher salary in the county is a bit higher than Livingston’s figure at $61,525.

These averages are worth noting when considering a quick drive to the surrounding area school divisions can greatly alter the average salary that a public school teacher receives.

“The only school division that is lower in average teacher salary in the area is Manassas Park. The other [counties] are at least $2,800 to $3,000 more than us. For example, if you cross over to Fairfax County…that’s a $7,000 pay increase based on the average,” said Livingston of the county’s low pay-average.

Kavits stated teachers in nearby Fairfax County average $66,782 per year, and a Loudoun County teacher receives an average of $63,013 per year.

“The reasons that the salaries remain low, particularly at the entry level – that’s where we have the greatest difficulty – is quite frankly that our neighbor [counties] around us have simply determined that it’s in their best interest to try and attract the very best [teachers] that they can. And frankly, we’ve simply just not kept pace…” Livingston said.

The county’s School Board is facing a $20 million budget deficit. On Feb 4, it will meet to discuss some possible ways to fix the problem by proposing new cuts to the division’s billion-dollar budget. The cuts come as county leaders propose a lower tax increase of 1.3% than the original planned 4% hike in property taxes. 

Things like transportation for specialty programs at middle and high schools, and full day kindergarten in non-title one schools are all things being eyed by the School Board as items to slash from the budget.

Teacher pay raises, however, are not, according to School Board Chairman, At-large Milton C. Johns.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series that examines public school teacher pay in Prince William County.

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

freedom, fitness, aquatic, manassas
freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-1freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-2freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-3freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-4freedom-aquatic-fitness-center-5
Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
 
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
 
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 
 
Frey

Frey

What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

 
“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
 
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 
 How much does the program cost?
 
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
 
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
 
Is it too late to sign up? 
 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
 
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
 
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
 
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
 
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
 
Why do people sign up?
 
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 

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Prince William dog licenses due Feb. 1

Get your dog license in Prince William County yet? If not, Fido needs a tag by Feb. 1. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Dog owners are reminded that in Prince William County all dogs age 4 months and older must be licensed by Feb. 1, 2015.

Any dog not having a 2015 license tag by February 1 will be in violation of County Code and owners will be subject to a fine. The license fee is $10 per dog.

If you received a dog license renewal form in the mail, please follow the instructions on the form in order to obtain a license. Forms must be returned by January 15th to ensure that you receive the new license by February 1.

If you did not receive a renewal form, owners must present a valid rabies certificate for each dog to obtain the license. Licenses may be purchased in person at any of the following locations:

 – James J. McCoart Administration Building –1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge

 – Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge

 – Sudley North Government Building – 7987Ashton Avenue in Manassas

 – Animal Control Bureau – 14807 Bristow Road in Manassas

If you prefer to apply by mail, an application form is available on the County’s web site at www.pwcgov.org/tax.

For questions about dog licensing, call 703-792-6710 or email Taxpayer_Services@pwcgov.org. For all other animal control questions, call the Animal Shelter at703-792-6465; after 5 p.m., call 703-792-6500.

Come see the Capitol Steps at Hylton Arts Center & help Cecily replace the asbestos-laden siding on her home

When Cecily was in her 20’s she immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua.

capitol stepsTaking a job at Home Depot in Springfield, Cecily met her future husband, Eddy, who had emigrated from Palau. Cecily and Eddy married in 2008 and now share their Woodbridge home with their two children, Cecily’s mother, and grandmother.

A tight-knit family, everyone pitches in to help. Cecily operates a daycare from her home while also attending school at Northern Virginia Community College.

Cecily’s mom is a certified nursing assistant with a job in Washington, D.C. Eddy continues to work at Home Depot and he and Cecily’s mom and grandmother all help care for the children, too.

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is looking forward to giving this hard working family a hand up with much-needed critical home repairs that will make their home safer, more comfortable and affordable.

Habitat for Humanity will replace the boiler that is original to the home, replace asbestos siding from three sides of the exterior and replace non-functional windows throughout the home. The deck must be rebuilt for safety. And the home will be weatherized for energy efficiency.

Habitat for Humanity thanks you for your support of the Capitol Steps event and welcomes you to join them on their work sites as a volunteer!

To learn more, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website at habitatpwc.org.

Mark your calendars for Laughs & Love benefit February 21 at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Not only are we having the hilarious Capitol Steps come to the beautiful Hylton Center, but our Rotary Club has proudly partnered with Casa, Habitat for Humanity, Rainbow Center Therapeutic Riding, Calling All Souls and Transitional Housing Barn as the beneficiaries this year.

The goal?

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of.

They cannot do it alone!

To order tickets go to Hyltoncenter.org or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event, please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by Feb 10.

The preceding post was sponsored by Rotary Club of Bull Run.

1.3 million pages later, Michele McQuigg seeks 2nd term as Prince William Clerk of the Circuit Court

Michele McQuigg calls herself an activist turned politician.

In addition to spending more than 20 years in public life serving the residents of Prince William County, she’s also belonged to just about any civic or community organization that had an open membership policy.

McQuigg is running for another eight-year term as Prince William County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court. It’s a lesser-known position, one that doesn’t usually attract headlines – unless your Michelle McQuigg.

Last year, McQuigg placed her name on a lawsuit against Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who wanted to bypass a state referendum on gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. One of McQuigg’s jobs as Clerk of the Circuit Court is to issue those licenses.

McQuigg doesn’t support gay marriage, but she said the overriding reason for her signing her name to that lawsuit was because she felt the state, and federal constitutions were being usurped by the Attorney General. Today, gay couples may file for marriage licenses in Virginia. (more…)

Full day kindergarten, specialty busing all on chopping block at Prince William schools

For the first time, Prince William County’s School Board will provide budget guidance to Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts.

The elected board will tell Walts of key items they would like to see funded as well as areas that could be cut to help make up for a coming $11 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2016 schools operating budget.

The move comes as the Prince William County Board of Supervisors directed officials to create a budget based on a 1.3% growth rate in the average real estate property tax bill, not the 4% tax growth rate as was approved last year. Since the county gives 57% of its entire budget to the school division, the lower rate means fewer tax fewer resources for county schools.

On the chopping block cutting full-day kindergarten for non-Title 1 schools, something that’s been the norm for the past 10 years. Slashing transportation funding for high school and middle school specialty programs, which provides buses for students to attend classes at selected school sites across the county that provide a student’s specialty program like arts, math, and sciences, is also on the table.

The resolution also calls for halting some $52 million in capital improvements to schools that were to take place this year. Things like renewal of six elementary schools in eastern Prince William, HVAC repairs and replacement, window replacement, and energy infrastructure improvements are all on the list.

The Board is expected to tell Walts to find ways to continue to fund class size reduction plans, as well as to find a way to fund a salary step increase for schools employees.

“If we want to do these two things which we told the Board of Supervisors are priorities for us, we’re going to have to look at other areas to cut, said School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns, who proposed the new budget guidance measure.

Johns called this a “watershed year” for the school division as it looks to make up an overall $20 million shortfall, with the $11 million deficit included following the county’s 1.3% tax bill growth.

“I hate this. We’ve pushed off orders for replacement buses. We’ve pushed off technology upgrades. But we’re going to have to make some tough decisions – and it’s not just $11 million one time, its $11 million each year over the course of the next five years,” said Gainesville School Board representative Allison Satterwhite.

The stalled technology upgrades Satterwhite mentioned were supposed to cost $4.5 million and included upgrades to phone systems, computer servers, and interactive projectors.

The School Board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4. The Board also expects to hear from Dr. Walts at that meeting about the state of the upcoming budget.

Dale City, Lake Ridge, Manassas rank as Virginia’s ‘most boring’ places to live

We often think of our homes as a respite from work and the outside world. Many of us make long commutes between home and our jobs to so we can enjoy better schools for our children, better shopping, and an overall better quality of life on the weekends.

Well, congratulations all you better quality of lifers out there – three neighborhoods in our area are ranked as some of Virginia’s “most boring” places to live. Two neighborhoods ranked in the top 10.

We’ll start with Lake Ridge, the community that ranked seven of 46 of the most boring places in the state, according to real estate website Movato. The riverside community’ s reputation on the survey was dinged due to its lack of independently-owned restaurants. And, while the website gave Lake Ridge high marks for having dense population, that meant little to surveyors because they say Lake Ridge has a low population of those aged 18 to 34 – you know, the demographic of people known for getting out and going places — and that means the place is, according to them, boring.

Not all Lake Ridge residents agree that their neighborhood is boring. Though they do note it could use more cultural options.

Dale City ranked one lower on the list at number eight. The community’s “almost a complete lack of nightlife” and lack of “active life options” counted against the bedroom community. Movato’s list also noted Dale City to have few restaurants, and that makes us wonder if they’ve been to the area around Potomac Mills mall?

Lower on the list at number 36 is Manassas City, and Fredericksburg City ranked number 40. That means that, according to the survey, both cities are more interesting that Lake Ridge or Dale City.

Danville was the “most boring” place in Virginia while Charlottesville was the least boring of the 46 communities ranked. Movato ranked the communities cities by population, population of those aged 18 to 34, number of nightlife spots and music venues, and the number of fast food vs. independently-owned restaurants.

ANU students take MLK Day, register to vote in Prince William County

Vote, MLK day, election

In recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday and a day of service, Medical Assistant students from the Northern Virginia Campus of American National University collectively registered to vote in Prince William County. 

Their inspiration came not only from Dr. Martin Luther King, but also from the ANU Mission Statement, which states, “Graduates of American National University should understand and practice their responsibilities to their families, their fellow men and their communities by becoming effective and contributing citizens.”

Led by their instructor, MJ Williams of the Roanoke Campus, the students committed to volunteering in the community and becoming informed voters.

Updated: Prince William cancels evening activities

Prince William County Public Schools canceled all evening activities tonight. 

Here’s full information in a statement from the school division: 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015: After School and Evening Activities Canceled-Normal Dismissal today. 

All Prince William County Public Schools divisionwide after-school and evening activities are canceled for tonight. All after-school and evening activities including night school, GED, and adult education classes, are canceled this evening. SACC and the Next Generation programs will close at 5 p.m. School will continue to operate on a normal schedule for the remainder of today.  

A School Board meeting that had been scheduled for 7 p.m. is also canceled. 

On the Prince William County Government side of the house, tonight’s meeting of the planning commission is also canceled. All cases will be rescheduled for Feb. 18, according to a press release. 

 

Manassas First Friday February: It’s the ‘Souper Bowl’

  • Historic Manassas, Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia
  • Phone: 703-361-6599
  • Website: http://visitmanassas.org/
manassas, souper bowl, festival

Historic Downtown Manassas is putting on the Soup for First Friday February.

On Feb. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., city restaurants are pairing up with downtown merchants to offer a soup for sampling. Five-dollar wristbands allow participants to sample the soups from each location and vote to name a champion of the “Souper Bowl.”

A list of participating merchants for Manassas First Friday is available at visitmanassas.org.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas. The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art or special foods, like this month.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Region to readying to welcome 12,000 athletes for Fairfax World Police & Fire Games

Prince William County is getting in on the action during the Fairfax 2015 World Police and Fire Games.

Dubbed the Olympics of public safety personnel, the games will take place June 26 to July 5. More than 12,000 firefighters and police officers currently serving or retired, from all over the globe, are expected to descend apron the area. They’re expected to bring with them some 30,000 spectators, according to Fairfax 2015.

Of the 53 venues where the games will take place, to include baseball, basketball, cycling, clay shooting, motor cross racing, tennis, and karate just to name a few nine will be held on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University.

In Prince William, here’s a list of competitions being held in the county:

  • Prince William Forest Park – Cycling time trials
  • Prince William Ice Center in Dale City – Ice hockey 35+
  • Quantico – Rifle range bore

Other venues are scatted throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Participants will register for the competition and will gather during the competition week at an athletes village in Reston.

Unlike Olympic athletes who have travel expenses paid for, athletes in these games must pay the cost of their own travel. At an information meeting for the games earlier this month, organizers asked area businesses to offer discounted items and special offers for athletes to entice more to come.

Country Inns and Suites off Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge will serve as the official transportation hub for athletes who stay in the county. Eight buses will take athletes to competition areas each morning and return them at night

Fairfax 2015 officials said they expected 55,000 hotel nights to be booked at area hotels. The Country Inn in Woodbridge is offering a special room rate for athletes, but no rooms have been booked yet.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot picking up yet, but it’s still a little early,” said Rebecca Anderson, who handles group sales for the hotel.

These latest games will take place following the most recent World Police and Fire Games that were held in Belfast, Ireland, and drew 7,000 athletes to the games.

For this year’s games, volunteers will also be needed to assist the athletes and spectators. “We need volunteers for parking, helping familes, we need ambassadors of Fairfax County and this whole region,” said Kim Palmese, director of workforce for Fairfax 2015.

Would closing Prince William schools in zones mean fewer snow days?

It’s been a rough start to the New Year for the Prince William County Public School division.

On Jan. 6, it snowed heavily across portions of Prince William and Fairfax counties as a clipper system “over performed” and peppered frozen precipitation across the area, resulting in more snow than forecasters originally thought the storm would bring.

Schools in Prince William and Fairfax were not canceled, and that led to delays and children being stuck on buses en route to school. It led to outrage among parents and students who took to social media to denounce the school division’s decision not to close schools.

Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts issued a public apology for not closing schools.

On Wednesday, snow fell again, accumulating more this time in our region’s southern counties like Stafford and Spotsylvania. Prince William picked up a dusting of snow, and this time school was canceled. Canceling school for a dusting of snow drew the ire of some, proving once again that you cannot (especially the school division) please everyone.

Last night at a meeting of the Prince William Committee of 100 at the Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus, the question was asked “would it be better for Prince William County to divide the county into a western, central, and eastern zones,” and then close schools by zones in the event of inclement weather?

The question was directed to David Cline, associate superintendent for finance at Prince William schools.

Cline said other schools systems, neighboring Loudoun County, tried to split that county into zones, but it didn’t work. A similar plan in Prince William, he said, probably wouldn’t work, either.

“Two days ago, there was snow in Dumfries on the I-95 corridor and there was nothing on Bull Run Mountain,” said Cline.

During a usual snow storm, the mountain in the western portion of the county sees more snow than the east side of the county.

It would be easy to close schools in zones if all schools offered the same programs at each campus. However, since different language, arts, and technical classes are offered at specific school sites, and because some school buses transport children to their respective schools throughout the county, Cline said closing schools by zones wouldn’t make much sense in the long run.

After McDonalds robbery, young mom shown path to a degree

degree, credit, mcdonalds

Amercian National University (ANU) student Jazmin Lopez works toward her medical associates degree.

ANU provides young mother flexibility, path to medical assisting degree     

Jazmin Lopez, 20, of Manassas, knew that she needed to make a change in her life, and ANU offered her an opportunity to work toward her degree in a growing field.
Her neighbor was the first to recommend American National University, which has a campus in Manassas located on Liberia Avenue.

“They were promoting the school [at Gold’s Gym], when [my neighbor] met a recruiter from ANU,” Lopez said, continuing, “She was giving me information, but I wasn’t so sure about going to school.”

Lopez had made an appointment to meet with the recruiters on the campus, but still wasn’t sold about pursuing her degree.

Then, one night while working at a McDonalds, she was robbed.

“I wasn’t  speaking at the moment,” Lopez said of the experience, which traumatized her. “I thought it was time to change, and turn my life around,” Lopez said, prompting her motivation to get out of the fast food industry and earn her degree.

A few days after the incident, Lopez did meet with an ANU ad visor about the school’s opportunities for her. The robbery proved to be a turning point in her life that made her want to seek new opportunity and a higher education.

“The recruiter asked me why it took me so long to finally decide to go back to school. And I enrolled that same day…I thought it was really a great idea, because it’s only five minutes away from my house. And it caught my eye because they have really small classes, which means more attention for us as students,” said Lopez.

For her, the flexibility of the classes and assistance that the school has provided her, have allowed her to continue her education as a working young mother.

While still working at McDonalds, Lopez is currently obtaining her Medical Assistant degree, as a member of the class of 2016.

credit, mcdonalds, degree

This Manassas woman was robbed while working at a McDonalds. It was then she decided she need to change her life. She went to ANU in Manassas for a better opportunity.

Used tires are mysterious. New Cooper Starfire Tires cost about the same

starfire-tire-3starfire-tiretoyo-tiresstarfire-tire-2

Cooper Starfire Tires offer superior life and performance for just a few dollars more than the cost of a used tire

Instead of buying a used tire that you might have to replace sooner than later, consider a new Cooper Starfire Tire.

It’s a great option for someone looking for an inexpensive tire that will help keep their vehicle on the road longer and their occupants of the car safe.

Cooper Starfire Tires are available for multiple makes and models of vehicles. They’re manufactured in Asia and designed in the U.S. to compete with premium brands without the higher price tag of comparable tires.

The tire offers high-performance ability, improved grip and road handling, with an improved overall tire life.

Cooper Starfire Tires are great for drivers who may have purchased a vehicle that is more costly to maintain than first thought, but are still looking for a quality tire that delivers great handling and a quiet performance on the road. With the Starfire option available, drivers should think before purchasing a used tire.

Typically, drivers have no idea what type of life the used tire had before they obtain it. Used tires could be six to eight years old, perhaps older, and have spent the majority of their life as a used tire strapped to a vehicle. While used tires may look good, the rubber can be worn down or degraded after years of sitting idle. Some used tires may also be missing tread and show signs of wear.

Purchasing a Starfire Tire costs about $30 more than what a used tire might cost, but a new tire, on average, will provide three times the life of a single used tire. The price of a Starfire Tire is up to 30% less than other newer tires.  There are many Starfire Tires produced for SUVs, trucks, and the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Camry models.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now an authorized Cooper Tire dealer and offers a full line of Starfire Tires.

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Candland seeks reelection for Prince William’s Gainesville seat, not Chairman

Peter Candland will seek reelection as the Gainesville District Supervisor on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. He won’t run for the At-large Chairman of the Board position as once thought held by Corey Stewart, who is seeking reelection.

Candland’s decision comes as all of the seats on the Board of Supervisors are up for reelection in 2015. Voters will go to the polls in November.

“It has been gratifying to receive the outpouring of support by so many citizens across the County encouraging me to run for Chairman of the Board. I believe it’s an affirmation of the work that I have done so far to restrain the growth in county spending, reduce taxes to provide relief for families, increase transparency on the Board, and to work to improve the quality of life for every family in Prince William County,” Candland penned in statement to press.

The Republican came charging onto the Board of Supervisors after he was elected in 2011. He’s branded himself as a tax-cutting conservative who’s looking to rope in what he says is excessive spending within the halls of Prince William County Government. He’s currently taking county officials, as well as members of his own Board to task over the December 2013 decision to spend $12 million to bury power lines on Route 1 in Woodbridge in conjunction with a project to widen the road to six lanes.

Candland crafted a resolution to rescind the funds for the project, and the Board is expected to vote on the measure Tuesday.

The Republican has also vowed to endorse other candidates in other races whom he believes would best do the job.

“While I will be running for re-election to represent the citizens of the Gainesville District, I will be working across the county to elect good candidates to serve on the Board of County Supervisors to build that coalition that is so desperately needed to protect and preserve the future of Prince William County. I will be endorsing and actively campaigning for candidates in races, even if it means against a sitting Supervisor,” stated Candland.

Candland lives in Gainesville with his wife and four children. He is the executive vice president at Quality Business Engineering in Haymarket. The firm occupies the former PACE West school.

Picture your art here to win

Winning artwork to be featured on light poles in Manassas

Have you seen the banners that hang on the light poles in the Historic Downtown area of the City of Manassas and in other cities? If you are an artist or aspiring to be one, the art you create could be hanging on one of those light poles.

Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas have launched an art contest to fill the banners in Historic Downtown with original pieces of art. The contest will be juried so that one artist will be awarded a grand prize of $1,000 and there will also be “people’s choice award” of $500. The contest deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2015.

This contest is part of an effort to promote art and tourism in the City of Manassas. The winning 50 pieces will be featured on the light pole banners and in a walking tour brochure that includes information on the piece and the artist. Information about the contest can be found at visitmanassas.org/banner-art-project.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

City of Manassas Citizen Satisfaction Survey results are in

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Manassas ranks above average in 8 Citizen Satisfaction categories surveyed

In a survey conducted by one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms, results showed that citizen satisfaction in the City of Manassas is significantly above national and regional benchmarks in a number of service areas. Overall, three categories stood out: the overall quality of citizen services provided; the overall quality of water and sewer utilities; and the effectiveness of communication with the public.

Categories where the City of Manassas scored significantly higher than the national and regional benchmarks include:

  • Maintenance of streets
  • Sidewalks and infrastructure
  • How safe residents feel in their neighborhood at night, in commercial/business areas of the City and in City parks
  • Maintenance of neighborhood streets
  • Cleanliness of City streets
  • Access to information about City services
  • Opportunities to participate in local government 
  • Satisfaction with residential garbage collection and residential curbside recycling

The percentage of residents satisfied with customer service is 15 percent higher than the national average. Survey participants responded more than 20 percent above the national average when asked how satisfied they were with customer service in regards to response time and customer service experience.

“Having worked with City staff for the last year, I know how our dedicated staff goes above and beyond to provide services to the community,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. “I am extremely proud that resident opinions show that City of Manassas staff are significantly above the nation in customer service.”

City Council and staff are pleased with the results, not only because they highlight what the City is doing right, but because the survey shows what priorities the community has in coming years. Major services that were recommended as top priorities for investment over the next few years include: overall flow of traffic and ease of getting around; overall quality of public education; and overall quality of economic development.

ETC Institute used a random sample of households within the City of Manassas for this survey. They had a goal of 400 completed surveys being returned to provide this data and received 405 surveys from all areas of the City of Manassas. To read the survey results presented by ETC Institute, visit manassascity.org/CSS.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Lawson wins Brentsville seat, headed to Prince William Board of Supervisors

Campaign supporters surround Brentsville Supervisor-elect Jeanine Lawson at a campaign victory party in Gainesville. [Submitted]

Campaign supporters surround Brentsville Supervisor-elect Jeanine Lawson at a campaign victory party in Gainesville. [Submitted]

Lawson successfully linked over development with overcrowding in county schools  

Jeanine Lawson won her bid to be the next supervisor in Prince William County’s hotly contested Brentsville District.

Lawson will replace former supervisor turned county judge Wally S. Covington after a grueling 9-month campaign in the district.

Lawson ran a campaign promising to limit growth in Prince William County’s most rural district. She successfully linked overdevelopment to the continual overcrowding issues facing the county’s public schools.

She ran against Republican turned independent Scott Jacobs and Democrat Eric Young. Election results were posted to the Prince William County website.

Lawson will head to the Board of Supervisors when they meet next at their first meeting of the New Year on Jan. 6.

She won’t be comfortable in her seat for long. Lawson was elected to complete the remainder of Covington’s term which expires in November. She’ll have to go once again into campaign mode in 2015 if she wants to keep the seat.

For voters in the district Tuesday, it came down to streetlight issues.

Muhammad Khan, of Gainesville, has watched more and more houses popup in the area and has seen a greater influx of Muslims like himself move into the Brentsville District. Now, he said it’s time to build a place for them to worship.

“The Muslims need to see a mosque built in this area,” said Khan, who cast his vote for Scott Jacobs. “The Muslim population is growing. Not as much as it is in Fairfax County, but it is growing in Prince William.”

A neighborhood meeting addressed the building a mosque in Nokesville in August. Residents were concerned the mosque would bring additional traffic to the rural crescent portion of the county.

The thought of more development in the Brentsville District also weighted heavily on some voters’ minds. The controversial Stone Haven development project would put more homes on land located between Linton Hall and Wellington roads if approved next month by the Board of Supervisors.

“It seems the county does a good job building new schools, but as soon as they do the schools fill to capacity with students,” said Dan Grinnell, of Gainesville, a Lawson voter. “We need a better mix of residential and business development, and these local elections can make a big difference.”

Samantha Fulda also voted for Lawson. She likes the a campaign promise Lawson made to limit growth in the area.

“I’ve got one in school now and one about enter. My son’s lunch periods end late and many of the students are in trailers for classrooms,” said Fulda.

Scott Jacobs developed a reputation as the “developers” candidate. Outside his old stomping grounds at Brentsville District High School, he was also known as the land rights candidate.

Kevin, who did not give his last name, said many who live on land in the district that is or was once used for farming have difficulties selling their properties at market value due to historic preservation efforts by the county.

“We need complete property rights, and we should have the right to sell our property and move somewhere else if that is what we want to do,” said Kevin.

Will Prince William Chamber’s new button campaign work to build pride, awareness?

i belongIf you’re a member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, they you want to tell the world.

As part of the organization’s continuing effort to rebrand itself as a business-focused, community-minded organization, the chamber adopted a new advertising campaign.

The “I belong” campaign invites chamber members to wear a button with the “I belong” slogan printed on them. The Manassas-based organization also encourages its members to post photos of themselves wearing the badge to Twitter using a #pwchamber hashtag. The chamber will also award prizes twice a month for the most creative posts on Twitter using the #pwchamber tag.

“Show your Chamber pride and gain visibility and recognition from January 1 – May 31, 2015,” stated an email to chamber members. Potomac Local is a member of the chamber, so we got the email, too.

This is an advertising campaign that appears to rely heavily upon social media. Many companies, especially small businesses, tend to go to social media first because of the low barrier to entry cost.

But does it work?

“The jury is largely still out,” said Katherine Carlson, managing director of Pulsar Advertising in Washington, D.C. “Going to social is not only cheaper, but it’s easy, fast.”

Carlson’s firm just won the bid to handle marketing efforts for Virginia Railway Express and has worked with other clients like Amtrak and Virginia Megaprojects’ 495 Express Lanes.

With so many ways to send and receive messages, and so many ways on the web for users to be marketed to, having a consistent message is vital.

“With the proliferation with media and messages available to anyone, branding is more important now than it was before social media,” said Carlson.

If the right audience sees the chamber’s message, recognizes its value and adopts it as its own, the “I belong” campaign could be on its way to success.

“Think of it as a Good Housekeeping seal. It’s just another moniker to say we’re apart of this community in a real way, and we’re not just here to make money off of you,” said Carlson.

The Prince William Chamber formed in 2010 with the merger of the Greater Manassas – Prince William Chamber of Commerce and the Region’s Chamber based in Woodbridge. With the February exit of former CEO Rob Clapper, Debbie Jones was promoted from within to President and CEO.

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