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Chick-fil-A Bristow’s charity golf tournament will benefit Patriot High School students working to make a better life

James Newman dreams of becoming a pilot. 

The 17-year-old student at Patriot High School is interested in all things aviation. Like most his age, he’s into video games. His favorite — a flight simulator. 

But before he can work is way into a career in the field of aviation, this teenager, like most is working a part-time job. He’s a barista at Starbucks. 

But, unlike other students, Newman is getting school credit for his work. 

He’s enrolled in a class called EMPLOY and life skills, where as many as 40 Patriot students, all with varying places on the autism spectrum, learn everything from basic life skills to the wherewithal of going out into the real world and working a job. 

“I come in with a smile. Even if its a crappy day, I try to make the customers happy,” said Newman.  

He’s worked at Starbucks for a year. Thanks to the EMPLOY class and his instructors, he’s learned simple tasks like how to make the correct change from a cash register to larger responsibilities, like household budgeting. 

“I knew what a paycheck was. I knew how to spend a paycheck but I didn’t know how to budget it,” he adds. 

Ryan Carter, 16, is also in the class. He’s into cooking food and riding rollercoasters. He’s got a YouTube channel of videos dedicated to the more than 80 coasters he’s ridden. 

To reach that number, he had to overcome his initial fear of coasters. Now, he hopes he can put that same determination into his future career. 

“I want to be a chef,” he said. 

He’s known for his own version of shrimp scampi, which includes a mixture of jumbo shrimp and jalapeño poppers. At home, and here at school, he’s encouraged to try new things. 

Tricia Weate and Brook Bell run the program at Patriot High School. Some students are enrolled in the life skills program where they get coaching on how to develop social skills and perform regular tasks. 

They learn the basics of kitchen food preparation and cooking, starting with washing hands, wearing gloves, using measuring cups, and it ends with making a meal.

They work the school’s mailroom, slotting mail for staff members to 237 mailboxes. They help set up and break down lunch shifts in the cafeteria.

In their classroom, they run a screen printing operation where they make t-shirts to raise awareness for autism.  

Other students in the program leave campus and go to restaurants and retail stores, where they work alongside their fellow employees. At Nando’s Peri Peri in Gainesville, some students greet restaurant guests, while others make food. At Fosters Grill, students deliver food. 

“They’re brilliant. We just want the community to see what we see,” said Bell. 

And some businesses have, like Smoothie King, which began providing their EMPLOY student workers with instructions on how to make drinks using color codes. It makes the process easier for them to understand. 

The instructors work with at least 20 community businesses and are always looking for more on which to partner. Some students are paid, while some work for class credit. 

“It’s not free labor. It’s also not ‘you’re so cute, let me help you out,” said Weate. “We want them to treat them like they treat their own staff.” 

“We don’t want sugar-coating. We want the real deal,” added Bell. 

The instructors are always looking for more funding for materials to teach their students, whether it be measuring cups or a replacement cash register to use in the classroom, something the program is in need of. 

The Second Annual Chick-fil-A Bristow Charity Golf Tournament on September 22 at Broad Run Golf & Practice Facility aims to do just that. The 18-hole four, four-person team event will welcome players at 8 a.m. for registration, and then they’ll take to the course for a 9 a.m. shotgun start. 

Chick-fil-A Bristow is looking for golfers for the event. It’s $75 for the public, $60 for cardholders, and $40 for full Broad Run Members. It includes a golf cart, range, and a lunch buffet. 

They’re also in need of corporate sponsors for the event. If you’re interested in playing or sponsoring, Chick-fil-A’s Susan Campbell would love to hear from you.

The proceeds from this charity golf tournament will go to benefit the children enrolled in the EMPLOY and life skills program at Patriot High School. 

“Without them starting this EMPLOY program, I would not have a job,” said Newman. “This class shows me there are many options out there for me.” 

Madhaunter’s Madhouse haunted trail of terror returns

Madhaunter’s Madhouse haunted trail of terror returns in time for Halloween fun. From the press release:
LORTON, VA / September 12, 2018 – The Workhouse Arts Center is thrilled to announce the return of Madhaunter’s Madhouse haunted trail of terror to the Workhouse (9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079) for a third year of scares on select nights from October 5 – 31, 2018.
Chosen as 2018’s “#1 Must-See Haunt” in Virginia by thousands of passionate fans at Madhaunter’s continues to achieve both popular and critical success, being chosen as Virginia’s “Top Haunt” in 2016 and runner-up in 2017 by industry experts at as well as scaring the souls out of nearly ten thousand guests each year.
In 2018, screams will echo across the 55-acre historic Workhouse campus, built on the grounds of the once-abandoned and notorious DC Department of Corrections Lorton Reformatory. Our frightmasters will debut redesigned trails, spookier scenes, creepier characters, and more spectacular special effects, all designed to bring our guests’ darkest fears and nightmares to life. And the popular, zombie-themed Madhaunter Escape Room will be on-site during the haunt, too.
Based on guest feedback from our first two years, our Madhaunter’s Madhouse event will also bring back fan-favorite entertainment experiences at our Ghost Bar Cinema, including local food trucks, themed bar, and scary movies projected onto a giant movie screen.
Members of the media are invited to visit the haunt during our haunt hours (schedule below) or during the day if you’re easily scared; press passes or site visits can be requested by emailing Frank Pappas, Managing Director at the Workhouse Arts Center, at
More information, tickets ($20), and volunteer opportunities for Madhaunter’s Madhouse are available online at
Oct 5, 7-11p
Oct 6, 7-11p
Oct 12, 7-11p
Oct 13, 7-11p
October 19, 7-11p
October 20, 7-11p
October 21, 7-10p
October 26, 7-11p
October 27, 7-11p
October 28, 7-10p
October 31, 7-11p
Located in Lorton, Virginia, on 55 acres once occupied by the historic Lorton Workhouse prison, the Workhouse Arts Center is a vibrant community of visual artists, performing artists, and arts educators working together to serve over 125,000 visitors annually from communities throughout Fairfax County and the greater Northern Virginia region. Nearly 100 regional artists create or exhibit their art at the Workhouse, and the Workhouse annually hosts more than 100 arts exhibitions, 300 performances, and 800 arts education classes, in addition to exciting events like Workhouse Fireworks and Brewfest. More information on the Workhouse is available online at

Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William Executive Director Kendra Kielbasa relocates

Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William’s Executive Director Kendra Kielbasa has decided to relocate with her husband who has accepted a new position in Pennsylvania. She will continue to support the organization during the transition. From the press release:

Leadership Transition at Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William
From Larry Hughes, Chairman Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William (SBGPW)

It is with mixed emotions that I share this update with you. Kendra Kielbasa, our Executive Director, has moved to State College, Pennsylvania to join her husband who accepted a new position in that area. While we are happy for Kendra and the opportunities that await her, we are very sad to see her leave. Fortunately, Kendra has agreed to continue to provide support to SBGPW during the transition.

Under Kendra’s leadership, we have made great strides for young children and their families in our community. We are grateful for her relationship-building skills that have fostered partnerships and collaborations and have brought in a team of highly adept volunteers who provide the backbone for our programs and initiatives. We wish to thank Kendra for dedication which resulted in numerous achievements, including:

An increase of over 1,100% of at-risk four-year-olds who receive quality pre-school through Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI)
Providing over 6,000 newborns their first book and literacy support kit through Books 4 Babies
Launching Directors Forums which support the professional development, networking, and collaboration of area child care directors
Partnering with higher education (NOVA) to provide professional development and training to over 300 early childhood professionals
Establishing of our School Readiness Committee which provides Parenting Education and Support, and professional development to Early Childhood Professionals
Distributing over 2,000 literacy kits to rising kindergarteners who have never been to preschool
Smart Beginnings 4 Tomorrow’s Workforce, a sold-out event highlighting the business case for early childhood. Key-note speakers and collaborators were from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Center for Education and Workforce
Healthy Initiatives and Obesity Prevention training through CDC and Nemours Health Initiative, benefiting thousands of area children in a childcare setting.

It is our intent and priority to continue the work and growth that SBGPW is experiencing. This is a priority for Kendra and our entire Board of Directors. Here is what you need to know:

Our priorities remain the same; 1) Increase pre-literacy skills, 2) Increase access to high quality early learning, 3) comprehensive health, and 4) increased community awareness of the critical window of opportunity that exists during early childhood.

Kendra, will continue to support SBGPW with consulting and coordination services on a modified schedule until a new Executive Director is identified.
Gina Parr, remains as our part-time Outreach Liaison.
Sharon Henry, Executive Director, SPARK, remains as the fiscal agent for SBGPW.
The following initiatives will continue as follows throughout the current school year:
School Readiness Committee – Chairman, Debi Stepien, Typically meets the 4th Tuesday of the month at the Head Start Offices, 14715 Joplin Rd., Manassas, 20112 from 9:30 am – 11:00 am. The next meeting is on September 25th.
Parent Training and Engagement will continue through the School Readiness Committee. There is a calendar of scheduled presentations throughout the school year.
The Directors Forums will continue a regular schedule. This committee is part of the School Readiness Committee.
Books 4 Babies will continue to provide books and support materials to newborns at Novant Health UVA Prince William Medical Center and Novant Health UVA Haymarket Medical Center.
In-person representation on advisory boards, committees, boards, etc. will be picked-up by SBGPW Board members or Volunteers. Please reach out to Kendra to see how this will best work for your organization.
We can not thank Kendra enough for her leadership, dedication, and passion. She will truly be missed by the Board, staff, volunteers, and partners. We look forward to following her and are happy about the opportunity for Kendra and her family. With your continued support, we will remain diligent in our quest to increase kindergarten readiness, both as an educational initiative and as a workforce development initiative. If you have questions during this transition, you may reach out to Kendra at or Sharon Henry at
Larry Hughes, Chairman, Board of Directors, Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William
From Kendra Kielbasa, Executive Director, Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William
After nearly seven years with Smart Beginnings Greater Prince William (SBGPW), it is time to transition to a different role. I’ll be joining my husband in Pennsylvania where he has relocated due to a new career opportunity. While I have a mix of emotions as I move into this next chapter, I am confident the forward momentum in our local early childhood initiatives will continue to grow at an increasing rate.
I am so grateful to those individuals and organizations who have been supportive of both SBGPW and me personally over the years. This gratitude extends to board members, volunteers, partners, and funders. You have grown this organization, made it what it is, and the laid the groundwork for what is yet to come. I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to lead this organization as we have grown in both awareness and improved early childhood well-being in our area. I look forward with much anticipation to see the growth that I know is coming.
All the best,

New ad campaign aims to change the stigma of senior living centers

The thought of checking mom or dad into a senior living home usually doesn’t evoke smiles. 
A new advertising campaign aims to change that.
Thrive Senior Living, the company that owns and operates Tribute at The Glen in Woodbridge and Tribute and Heritage Village in Gainesville, has launched a new tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign to call attention to the changing face of senior care.
Their campaign features cheeky statements like, “They built you a mother-in-law suite. Too bad it comes with a son-in-law,” and “There’s a very good chance she could leave it all to the dog. We’ll give you a leg up.”  
“At Thrive, we believe standards for senior living have been too low for too long,” said Les Strech, President of Thrive, in a press release. “The benchmark of ‘providing great care’ causes residents to feel like objects in need of care — rather than individuals with a purpose and a great deal to offer others.  Thrive creates an environment where older adults can build new and meaningful relationships, and ‘great care’ follows as a natural result. Our new campaign intentionally crosses a line and illustrates our non-traditional approach. While we can grow gardenias and bake a killer cupcake with the best of them, this campaign illustrates our commitment to our residents’ greater wellbeing and sense of purpose.”
“When I first got involved with the senior living industry, I was honestly mortified, and I started looking into what our competitors were like. There was no life in the building, there was no energy, there was no excitement, you could tell there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the design. With that very first community I vowed, I’m going to do this differently,” said Jeremy Ragsdale, president and founder, in an interview on the company’s YouTube channel.
Thrive Senior Living provides assisted living and memory care communities that are disrupting the industry of elder care. Rather than simply providing a care facility, they are creating communities where seniors can thrive instead of just surviving. Seniors enjoy amenities like cocktail hours and fine dining. They promote independence and assist their members 24 hours a day.  
Thrive currently operates communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
This post is brought to you by Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas whose caregivers work with senior residents at Tribute at The Glen in Woodbridge and Tribute and Heritage Village in Gainesville every day. 

Dam owners urged to lower lake levels ahead of hurricane

Dam owners in Virginia are advised to consult with a professional engineer about possibly lowering lake levels by up to 6 inches per day ahead of Hurricane Florence. From the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) press release:

Advisory to Virginia Dam Owners ahead of Hurricane Florence
RICHMOND, Va. — As of Monday Sept. 10, the National Weather Service has forecasted the potential for a major hurricane-level storm event in Virginia within the next week. Rainfall projections are currently forecasted to be from approximately 10 to 20 inches in some areas of the state if the storm were to slow down or “stall.”
In preparation for this potential storm event, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Dam Safety Program is offering the following information to dam owners.
1. Reach out to your professional engineer and discuss the specifics of your dam and what to do during an emergency situation.
2. Locate and review your dam’s emergency action plan if one is in place. Ensure that all contacts and contact information are up-to-date. Provide any updates to the local emergency services contact and DCR Dam Safety.
3. If your dam has a working low-flow valve, you as the dam owner should consider consulting with your professional engineer about possibly lowering your lake level by up to 6 inches per day (24-hour period). By lowering the normal water level in your lake, you provide extra storage for when rainfall begins. Note that lowering lake levels by more than 6 inches per day is not allowed as rapid drawdown of a lake level could result in critical damage to your dam.
4. Visually inspect your dam and remove any debris from the primary and emergency spillways. Contact your professional engineer if any dam-related issues are found (seepage, slope failures, rodent holes, etc.)
For information about the Virginia Dam Safety Program, go to

OmniRide encouraging participation in ‘Try Transit Week’ and ‘Car Free Day’

OmniRide is encouraging mass participation in two initiatives: Try Transit Week and Car Free Day. From the press release:

Try Transit Week and Car Free Day Encourage Driving Alternatives

 Pledge to participate and win some great prizes

WOODBRIDGE, VA – OmniRide is encouraging everyone to participate in two upcoming events designed to highlight alternatives to driving alone.

Try Transit Week will be held September 17-21, and Car Free Day is being expanded this year to span two days – September 21 and 22. These promotions are opportunities for area residents to consider using public transportation, sharing a ride with others, teleworking and helping to reduce the number of vehicles on our roadways.

“Public transportation riders save time and money by traveling in Express Lanes, taking advantage of free parking, and reducing the number of times they have to put fuel in their vehicle. They also have the advantage of a relaxing commute so they arrive at their destinations stress-free,” said OmniRide Executive Director Bob Schneider.

Registration for both September events is now open, and participants can qualify for great prizes this year even if they already use transit!

Those who pledge to try transit during Try Transit Week are automatically entered for a chance to win one year of free transit service from a participating Virginia transit operator as well as a pair of round-trip tickets aboard Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train! But that’s not all! Participating transit providers, including OmniRide, are offering additional prizes. OmniRide will award one lucky winner with a $50 SmarTrip card, and two additional winners will each receive $25 SmarTrip cards.

Try Transit Week is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Pledges will be accepted through September 21, 2018 at

Car Free Day was expanded to two days this year to allow more people to participate and qualify for prize drawings. Those who can’t go without their car for a day or two are encouraged to go Car-Lite by reducing the number of solo vehicle trips they make and sharing any rides with others. Even small gestures like that help to make the air cleaner and the roads less congested!

Everyone who pledges to go Car Free or Car-Lite on one or both days will be eligible to win prizes including $25 SmarTrip cards, Giant grocery gift cards, KIND Healthy Snacks gift bags, an Apple iPod, Capital Bikeshare memberships, and more.  Car Free Day is sponsored locally by Commuter Connections. Register for Car Free Day at                                                                                                                                                                 

About Us

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), operating as OmniRide, provides express and local bus services as well as ridesharing services in Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. It also co-sponsors the Virginia Railway Express in partnership with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

Job: Human Resources Benefits Specialist

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) is a progressive member owned utility with a service area that spreads from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

REC serves over 165,000 connections in portions of 22 Virginia counties. REC has a job opening for the position of Benefits Specialist.

Applicant must have an Associate’s degree in business administration or human resources or equivalent. Additional college level courses relating to job performance preferred. PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, or CEBS certification a plus.

  • Must have eight (8) years of current benefits experience where responsibilities have progressively increased. Additional experience in one or more of the areas of human resources administration, i.e., personnel, recruitment, or payroll highly desired.
  • Must be able to compose clear, concise and grammatically correct written communications with attention to detail a must.
  • Must be able to communicate with individuals and small groups in a clear and effective manner.
  • Must have strong PC ability (preferably Microsoft Office and Windows).
  • Must have the ability to handle multiple priorities, be detail oriented and possess good data entry and communication skills.
  • Must be able to organize, plan, schedule and coordinate with minimal or no supervision.
  • Must be able to initiate and complete projects with little outside direction or help.
  • Must exhibit a professional appearance and manner in dealing with others and work to maintain constructive working relationships.
  • Ability to research information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions required.
  • Must have the ability to collect, compile and analyze information and data, and interpret and apply laws and policies.
  • Knowledge in business and labor laws, labor relations, insurance, payroll, training, planning and administration principles and practices strongly preferred.
  • Work will be primarily performed in the Fredericksburg office with occasional trips to the districts. Attendance of seminars and conferences several times a year is also required. Extra hours may be required during emergencies or workload demands.

Candidates interested in applying for this position should submit their cover letter with salary requirements and resume by 9/20/2018 to: Job Code# 51FB09062018 – REC – Human Resources, P.O. Box 7388, Fredericksburg, VA 22404 or e-mail to or fax to 540-891-5990.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Job: Human Resources Talent Engagement & Planning Specialist (Recruiter)

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) is a progressive member-owned utility with a service area that spreads from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

REC serves over 165,000 connections in portions of 22 Virginia counties. REC is seeking an energetic, proactive, and outgoing self-starter to serve as the Human Resources Talent Engagement & Planning Specialist.

Associate’s degree required. Additional college level courses related to job also preferred. PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, or SHRM-SCP a plus. Must have five (5) years of current recruiting/talent acquisition experience where responsibilities have progressively increased.

Additional experience in other areas of human resources desired. Develops recruitment strategies to achieve required staffing levels. Works with managers to develop specific recruiting and succession plans.

  • Develops and maintains professional relationships with college, university, and community college placement offices as a source to generate qualified applicants. Directs the efforts of employment agencies and search firms, including negotiating and controlling employment-related fees.
  • Schedules and attends job/career fairs with appropriate staff to generate qualified applicants. Provides information on company operations and job opportunities to potential applicants. Screens and refers qualified applicants to hiring manager for interviewing.
  • May provide initial screening to obtain work history, education, training, job skills, and salary requirements.
  • Develops and conducts training programs for managers with a goal of improving recruiting and hiring efficiencies and reducing turnover.
  • Researches, analyzes, prepares and presents hiring and statistics. Maintains records on recruiting activities as required.
  • Participates in development of annual recruiting budget. Must be able to compose clear, concise, and grammatically correct written communications with attention to detail.
  • Must be able to communicate with individuals and small groups in a clear and effective manner.
  • Must be able to work with a wide variety of individuals both internal and external to the Cooperative.
  • Must demonstrate initiative to seek out and act upon solutions. Must have the ability to handle multiple priorities and be detail oriented.
  • Must be outgoing, proactive, and able to engage others through personality.
  • Must be enthusiastic, energetic, passionate, outgoing, approachable, and optimistic.
  • Must also be competitive, tenacious, and creative.
  • Must be able to organize, plan, schedule and coordinate with minimal or no supervision.
  • Must be able to initiate and complete projects with little outside direction or help.
  • Must exhibit a professional appearance and manner in dealing with others and work to maintain constructive working relationships. Must have a team-player attitude.
  • Must be able to research information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions required.
  • Knowledge in human resources related field, business and labor laws, labor relations, insurance, payroll, training, planning and administration principles and practices strongly preferred.
  • Work will be primarily performed in the Fredericksburg office with occasional trips to the district locations.
  • Attendance of seminars and conferences several times a year is also required. Extra hours may be required during emergencies or workload demands.

Candidates interested in applying for this position should submit their cover letter with salary requirements and resume by 9/20/2018 to: Job Code# 49FB09062018 – REC – Human Resources, P.O. Box 7388, Fredericksburg, VA 22404 or e-mail to or fax to 540-891-5990.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Prince William Humane Society to hold Paws-N-Pints fundraiser

From the Prince William Humane Society press release on the Paws-N-Pints fundraiser:

Paws-N-Pints is Coming!

The Prince William Humane Society’s 6th Annual Paws-N-Pints fund-raising event and silent auction will take place on Sunday, October 7th, 2018, from 12 – 5 p.m. at 2 Silos Brewing Company on the 8-acre Farm Brew LIVE at Innovation campus in Manassas, VA.  This year our fund-raising efforts will go to support Prince William Humane Society programs including our new Fur-Ever Together Pet Retention Program that is intended to preserve the loving bond between pet owners and pets, reduce shelter intake, and prevent pet homelessness. 

 Prince William Humane Society is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare organization whose mission is to promote animal welfare, increase homeless pet adoptions, and enhance the quality of life for people and their pets.  This past year we saved over 350 lives and we remain committed to realizing our vision in which all citizens regard companion animals as lifelong, valued family members, and embrace their responsibility for the welfare of animals.  

Formerly known as ‘Wags-N-Wine’, Paws-N-Pints is our largest fundraiser of the year and we are thrilled to be holding this year’s event at 2 Silos Brewery.  Come join us for an afternoon of fun and frolic with our adorable adoptable pets!  2 Silos Brewery features craft beers, wine and cider for tasting, excellent food and gourmet ice cream.  This amazing event will include live music, games, and fun for the entire family!  We welcome those from across DC, MD and the VA area to participate in what promises to be a fabulous day.

Tickets are $45 in advance ($50 at the door) and include:  Beer or Wine tasting, a commemorative souvenir glass, event t-shirt, a goody bag, a raffle ticket, bandanas for your furry family members and lots of fun.   And, for an extra special afternoon, check out our VIP Experience on our website and other special offers.

Tickets are available online at or stop by our Adopt Shop at:

17983 Dumfries Shopping Plaza (Rte 1), Dumfries, VA 22026

Please call 703-634-0880 for more information and for group reservations!

Virginia State Police: ‘It’s nothing short of alarming to have a 140 percent increase in fatalities compared to last year.’

From the Virginia State Police press release:


Every hour approximately 11 motorists cited for seat belt violations

– Traffic deaths in Virginia reached a three-year high during the 2018 Labor Day weekend. According to preliminary reports, a dozen individuals were killed in 11 fatal crashes during the four-day statistical counting period (12:01 a.m. Aug. 31, 2018 – 12 a.m. Sept. 3, 2018), which marks the highest number of crashes recorded since 2015 when 16 fatalities occurred over the holiday weekend. In 2017, there were five traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways.

This year’s 11 holiday fatal crashes took place in the counties of Carroll, Culpeper, Fairfax, Page, Prince William, Smyth, Tazewell and York and the cities of Lawrenceville, Newport News and  Norfolk. These crashes claimed the lives of three motorcyclists, a motorcycle passenger and three pedestrians. Of the remaining five crashes, two involved individuals who were not wearing a seat belt.

“For most, Labor Day marks the close of summer, the last neighborhood cookout and the start of a new school year, but for 12 families – the families of those who experienced the loss of a loved one this weekend – this holiday is forever changed, ” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “It’s nothing short of alarming to have a 140 percent increase in fatalities  compared to last year. What’s more surprising is that many of the crashes we see on Virginia’s highways could be prevented if we all do our part toward safety. That means buckling up, never driving impaired and always keeping our focus on the road.”

Once again this year, Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which is a state-sponsored, national traffic safety initiative intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt through increased law enforcement visibility and traffic enforcement during major holidays.

During the 2018 Labor Day weekend, Virginia State Police troopers cited 8,427 speeders and 2,050 reckless drivers. They also issued citations for 1,024 occupant restraint violations, including 227 to adult motorists who failed to secure a juvenile passenger in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt. In addition, 72 drunk drivers were arrested and charged with DUI.

Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

City of Manassas tourism climbs

The Virginia Tourism Corporation has released the 2017 state and local economic impact data.  It is another record year for Virginia with expenditures reaching $25 billion supporting 230,000 jobs, $5.9 billion in salaries & wages and $1.7 billion in state & local taxes. 

All Virginia localities saw an increase in travel expenditures in 2017 compared to previous year.  The travel industry in the Commonwealth has continued to grow eight years in a row.  Travel expenditures increased at a compound annual growth rate of 3.9% since 2010.  

In Manassas tourism-related expenditures rose 4.5% to $71,114,795.  Annual payroll rose 4.7% to $12,124,407.  Employment rose 1.5% to 589 and local tax receipts rose 2.7% to $1,851,267.

Tourism is an important part of the local economy in many communities and especially in the City of Manassas.  Few localities in the nation experienced such seminal events as Manassas did during the Civil War.  The First and Second Battles of Manassas helped define our City’s place in history and historical-based tourism is a key market for the City.  The Manassas National Battlefield Park, Liberia Plantation and Manassas Museum serve as key attractions for visitors.

However, the City’s appeal to visitors now also includes the charm of its Historic Downtown (a Virginia Main Street community), its specialty shopping and dining, and special events.  Special events and activities alone account for 300,000 annual visitors to Downtown.  In addition to the jobs it creates and the revenue it generates, visitors may be prospective business owners or residents who become attracted to a community because of its tourism vibrancy.  Tourism is economic development. 

Protect the senior in your life. Learn about Lyme disease treatment and prevention.

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of recognizing symptoms of Lyme disease in seniors. We said Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, especially in seniors, as it can mirror dementia, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and more. Because it is common for seniors to report joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue and dizziness, doctors often feel that the symptoms may not be that out of the ordinary and miss a diagnosis. Knowing all this and advocating for testing is the first step. Next comes treatment.

[Photo: Deer tick, Scott Bauer, USDA, ARS, Virginia Cooperative Extension website]

Treat Lyme disease

If you see a tick on the skin of a senior in your care, document it. Be sure to note the date of the bite. Set up an auto-reminder to check the bite site each day for any irritation or other symptoms. (Lesions typically develop 7-10 days after a tick bite.) Having this information to share with your doctor can greatly help with diagnosis, even if you are able to bring the senior you care for to the doctor right away.

If you find a tick, follow these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for removal:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.

According to the CDC, “People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. People with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.”

The CDC also says, “These regimens are guidelines only and may need to be adjusted depending on a person’s age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies.”

It’s important to note that the immune system deteriorates as we get older. Therefore, seniors usually respond slower to treatment, which increases risk of the disease becoming worse, especially if diagnosis and timely treatment were delayed. Lyme disease not cured by antibiotics becomes increasingly difficult for doctors to counter and can become fatal. Prevention is the best defense against Lyme disease.

Prevent Lyme disease

Lyme disease cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for over 96% of cases reported to CDC.

The CDC reports that more than 329,000 people are likely to contract Lyme disease every year in the U.S. alone. This estimated number of annual infections is 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. Lyme disease accounts for more than 90% of all reported cases of diseases carried by animals (vector-borne illness). But only one in ten cases of Lyme are reported, since many clinicians are not looking for Lyme disease specifically.

As ticks continue to migrate to more and more areas, we can expect cases to continue to rise. This makes prevention all the more difficult and important, especially for seniors who are more vulnerable to symptoms.

Here are some ideas to keep ticks away:

  • Avoid wooded areas with high grass or brush.
  • Keep grass cut in and around the yard.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, and tuck pant legs into socks when in tick territory.
  • Use bug repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Ask a medical professional for an option that is safe for the senior in your care.
  • Carefully inspect yourself and the senior in your care for ticks after being out in a natural setting.
  • Treat pets that can bring ticks inside. Ask a vet for safe options.

The CDC and the Lyme Disease Association offer a wealth of information about symptoms and prevention, as well as patient support resources. Learn as much as possible, and if you suspect the senior in your care has been exposed to environments that harbor ticks, consult a medical professional right away.

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

‘NOVAVETS is especially in need of executives to oversee and coordinate the organization’s operations’

The Northern Virginia Veterans Association (NOVAVETS) is an organization with a sole purpose of supporting veterans, transitioning military members and their families throughout the Northern Virginia region.  Located in Manassas, VA, the association is a one-stop hands-on non-profit that provides that support at no-cost to the veteran or family member.  Those in need are connected to local community resources that best meet their requirements.  Because of the vast need for services and support, NOVAVETS focuses its efforts on the most vulnerable of veterans and those with extraordinary needs.

Founded in 2015, by Retired Major Angela McConnell (PhD), who is also an expert in health services, NOVAVETS is unique in veterans support by guiding the client through the vast and often confusing network of available resources until the problem or issue is resolved.  Relying on a cadre of support specialists, which include military retirees and health care experts, NOVAVETS utilizes pre-screened and verified service and support partner companies and entities to fill the veteran’s need.  Since its founding, NOVAVETS has assisted hundreds of veterans and family members, ranging from veterans needing mental and other health services, to families facing immediate eviction, to obtaining transportation to a veteran’s doctor appointment, to home and yard care help, to hospice care assistance, and to meeting the recreational needs of the severely injured.  Despite the overwhelming successes achieved in coordinating care and assistance to the veterans, the demand continues to grow.  Relying exclusively on volunteers to fill its ranks of supporting the needs of the association, NOVAVETS is especially in need of executives to oversee and coordinate the organization’s operations.  These positions are ideally suited to retired military members, military spouses, or retired professionals.  Compensation is knowing that one made a difference in a hero’s life.  Contact NOVAVETS at 703-659-0788 or

David Bice is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General and is Chairman, Board of Directors, NOVAVETS.  He lives in Woodbridge, VA.

3 things you need to know if you’re using the E-ZPass Lanes on Labor Day weekend

This press release offers some advice for Labor Day weekend travelers:
Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year. The 95 and 495 Express Lanes team recommends planning ahead to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Congestion is expected to surge as early as Wednesday, August 29, on both the regular I-95 lanes and the 95 Express Lanes. To save time and avoid delays, the Express Lanes team encourages drivers to use the 95 Express Lanes during off-peak hours through Tuesday, September 4.
What to expect and when to travel
1. The Express Lanes will help drivers get where they’re going faster. Last year, more than 250,000 trips were taken on the 95 Express Lanes during Labor Day weekend; drivers who took the Lanes saved an average of 35 minutes compared to those who did not.
2. Traffic will likely be heaviest from Wednesday, August 29, to Friday, August 31. For those headed out of town, here are the best off-peak times to drive:
Wednesday, August 29, and Thursday, August 30: Before 3 p.m. or after 7 p.m.
Friday, August 31: Before 11 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
3. Toll prices may be higher than normal during peak travel times, so it pays to think ahead. By visiting or downloading the free Express Lanes mobile app (Apple App Store or the Google Play Store), drivers can check real-time toll pricing and live traffic updates before hitting the road.
As an added help, the 95 Express Lanes reversal schedule and I-395 HOV Lanes occupancy restrictions are being adjusted. This should help prevent further traffic and keep drivers moving.
o Thursday, August 30, and Friday, August 31: Southbound reversal begins at 10:30 a.m.
o Saturday, September 1: Northbound reversal begins at 2 p.m.
o Sunday, September 2: Lanes remain northbound all day
o Monday, September 3: Lanes remain northbound all day; I-395 HOV restrictions are lifted
o Tuesday, September 4: Southbound reversal now begins at 11 a.m.; I-395 HOV restrictions are back in effect
How to stay updated
Once drivers are on the road, pricing and traffic updates will be available on overhead signs. This includes:
· A sign before the Garrisonville Road exit alerting drivers of any delays on the southbound 95 Express Lanes. Drivers will have the option to exit the Lanes at Garrisonville Road or continue to the end of the 95 Express Lanes, near Courthouse Road.
· A sign before the Quantico/Joplin Road exit recommending drivers exit to the regular lanes if there are major delays on the Express Lanes.
Updates will also be shared via Twitter (@VAExpressLanes).
About the Express Lanes operated by Transurban
The 95 and 495 Express Lanes provide drivers in Northern Virginia with faster and more predictable travel options. The Express Lanes stretch more than 40 miles from north of the Dulles Toll Road to Stafford County. Thanks to a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, the Express Lanes give drivers reliable travel choices on two of northern Virginia’s most congested roadways. For more information, please visit

Write by the Rails (WbtR) holding workshop, launching social media campaign open to all

And in the local writing scene, we have news from Write by the Rails:

Write by the Rails ‘Back on Track’ with new initiatives

Write by the Rails (WbtR), the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, has announced two new initiatives in conjunction with its 2018-19 theme, “Back on Track.”

The group, which aims to raise the profile of the local literary community, started by scheduling a half-day, fall writers’ workshop to be held October 27, 2018 at Trinity Church in Historic Manassas. The workshop will feature a panel of guest speakers, as well as networking and break-out sessions on a variety of topics and genres.

Jan Rayl, WbtR President said, “As President of Write by the Rails, my goal is to mentor the new and want-to-be authors while balancing that with encouraging and educating our successful authors. Our ‘Back on the Tracks’ Fall Writers’ Workshop is going to be the event to do just that.”

Open to members and non-members, the workshop is $10 per seat for members, $15 for non-members.

“I am excited to have some of our members that have been very successful as writers lead sessions to help some of our new and want to be authors reach their goals. I hope that those that dream of having their name in print will join us,” said Rayl.

The workshop will also serve as the hard launch of the WbtR “#BackOnTrackNow Social Campaign.

“The #BackOnTrackNow social campaign is a way for writers and literary enthusiasts to take back social media,” WbtR Vice President Katherine Gotthardt said. “The idea is to write a few lines, post them on social media every day, and use “#BackOnTrackNow and #WbtR to track it all. Submit those same lines to Write by the Rails, and we’ll post them, too, giving writers credit, of course.” At the end of the campaign, select posts will be included in an anthology.

Gotthardt said anyone is welcome to participate, members and non-members.

“The goal is to get this movement to spread through all of social media, bring creativity back and further raise the profile of the writers in our local community and beyond,” said Gotthardt. “But you don’t have to wait until October. We’ve started sharing already as part of a soft launch. We encourage everyone to take part.”

Rayl said, “I have been watching our Write by the Rails Facebook page with excitement as several times a day there are new works coming into to our #BackOnTrackNow social media campaign. I hope some of those reading this article will post some poems, memoirs and writing.”

More information on the social campaign, along with a submission form, can be found at

For information on WbtR, membership, general events and meetings, visit the WbtR website at

Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, aims to raise the profile of the local literary community and explore ways to nurture, cultivate and help that community grow. The group strives to be an integral part of the larger arts community and to enhance the quality of life for residents of the area by providing them with the opportunity to participate in events and activities that promote literacy and self-expression. Published and unpublished writers affiliated with Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William County are encouraged to consider officially joining. 

How to buy a home when you have student loan debt: Tips from The Fauquier Bank

If you went to college, there’s a good chance you’re among the more than 70 percent of graduates with student loans to repay.

While those loans allowed you to achieve educational goals, they could affect your ability to achieve another part of the American dream — buying a home.

But with careful planning and proper guidance, you can qualify for a mortgage.

To assess each specific situation, Victoria King of The Fauquier Bank recommends the first stop be with a mortgage loan officer. Understanding your financial profile — and how to improve it, if necessary — is the best place to start.

“When you want to buy a home, the first thing to do is talk to a loan officer, even before you talk to a real estate agent, so they can guide you in the home buying process,” she says.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this. About 45 million Americans have student debt. The average borrower owes almost $40,000, according to Student Loan Hero. Many owe even more, according to the National Association of Realtors. And it’s a particular problem for first-time homebuyers.

King recommends these steps:

Build Credit: Take small steps that can have a big pay-off. For instance, if you can’t get a major credit card, take out a smaller card, make purchases and pay them off in full. By practicing good habits, you’ll build your credit.

Improve Your Score: Once you’ve got a credit history, talk with a lender, who will begin by checking your credit score. The higher the score, the better the interest rate you can qualify for.

If you need to improve your credit score, there are several options, such as making payments on time, and keeping the balance below 50 percent of the credit limit. If your score still isn’t where it needs to be, King can help improve it through a “rapid rescore” process.

“I can absolutely help somebody with their credit score if they need it,” she explains. The process can take time, for both the lender and the customer, but it can be worth it. “It’s something I take the time to do in order to help my clients,” she says.

Reduce Monthly Payments: Keep your student loan payment — as well as all expenses — low in order to reduce the amount you have to pay each month.

“For qualifying purposes with a mortgage,” she says, “you want to get that payment down as low as possible.”

NMLS #314753

 Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in life. We provide local expertise and personal service through our tradition of community banking with a hometown touch. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about mortgage options from TFB.

PWSPCA “Clear the Shelters” event a success, 54 animals adopted

From the Prince William police press release:

Thank you! That is the message from the staff of the Prince William County Police Department’s Animal Control Bureau and our partners in the 4th annual, nationwide “Clear the Shelters Day” event.

Fifty-four animals – 40 cats, 12 dogs and two rabbits – were adopted on Saturday, Aug. 18. The Prince William Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PWSPCA) covered the adoption fees for animals adopted at the event. The Prince William County Animal Shelter, which is run by the Animal Control Bureau, covered the spay/neuter fees. The PWSPCA-sponsored P.A.W. Express was set up in the Shelter’s parking lot and adopted out 10 cats that were on board.

With the support of NBC4, NBC-owned television stations, and Telemundo, hundreds of shelters in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia teamed up to take part in a national push to find homes for pets in need.

For more information on this initiative, visit

Other sponsors of the event included Hill’s Science Diet and Cat’s Pride Cat Litter.

Please visit the Prince William County Animal Shelter; give a homeless animal a new chance at life, and find your new best friend.

Dr. Steven Walts, Superintendent of Prince William County Public Schools, welcomes students back

A back-to-school message from Dr. Steven Walts, Superintendent of Prince William County Public Schools:

We enthusiastically await the arrival of approximately 91,000 students on the first day of the 2018-19 school year. Our educators and support staff are prepared and passionate about ensuring each student learns, grows, and excels.

Our commitment to serving individual needs is evident in this school year’s opening of Independence Nontraditional School. This unique, state-of-the-art school facility that combines the former New Directions and New Dominion Alternative Education Centers, as well as PACE East, provides all students with greater access to courses and Division resources.

Most any teacher will tell you that different people learn in different ways. That’s why I am thrilled to be opening a new school that focuses on meeting the needs of students who can reach great heights when given the right opportunities.

Completion of additions at Lake Ridge Middle School and Pattie Elementary School, and improvements to a third of other schools, will mean better learning space and comfort for staff and students Divisionwide. Renovations include a variety of upgrades, such as HVAC updates, partial roof replacements, new carpeting and flooring, painting, lighting, and parking lot paving, and much more.

The Pattie addition frees up space to make the Washington-Reid building a pre-K center. That will give some of our youngest learners valuable educational experiences in classrooms designed specifically for them. The early start pays dividends that last a lifetime.

Divisionwide, we’ll build on the strong foundation of teacher and learning successes we celebrated last year. Twenty-two of our schools earned 2018 Virginia Index of Performance Awards for academic achievement, nearly twice the number received just two years ago. Our 2018 graduates were awarded $74 million in scholarships, up 133 percent since 2016. And, PWCS was one of only five first-place winners among the nation’s large school divisions in the 2018 National School Boards Association Magna Awards competition. Our Advanced Programs for All initiative was recognized for helping all students, especially those in previously underrepresented groups, to take and succeed in rigorous advanced coursework.

Integration of technology into every course at every level prepares our students to be future-ready. Our growing Career and Technical Education programs open many avenues for success. Last school year, CTE students passed more than 9,500 valuable industry certifications. Some programs helped prepare students for lucrative employment in trades like welding, construction, and automotive work. In 2018-19, students can also take courses in Electricity levels I and II, Computer Game Design, and Cybersecurity Network Systems.

Of course, school safety is on everyone’s mind; and we’ve invested heavily in prevention and preparedness to keep students safe and secure. We’ve enhanced the physical measures built into many school structures. A county-funded pilot program will help us hire retired law enforcement officers as armed security to supplement current police who work as School Resource Officers, and our Division-employed School Security Officers. In combination with training for any eventuality, we’re working to minimize security threats by adding 13 social workers, another mental health specialist, a psychologist, and three additional high school counselors.

Of course, security concerns, and other challenges, often overshadow all the great news happening every day. As I visit with community members, parents, and school employees, I frequently hear a desire for more of the positive.

In response, we will bring you more web stories, social media, and other opportunities to see demonstrations of student knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and their readiness for further education for the 21st century workforce. You’ll also discover more about the great teachers and staff preparing them. We will bill them as Positively PWCS, with a visual look to spotlight them and ongoing opportunities for you to share great things you’ve learned about.

For now, I wish each of our students, staff, parents, and community members a wonderful new school year — a year filled with great results that are Positively PWCS.

SentarAlert gives patients, visitors instant texts during critical safety events

Patients and visitors to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, as well as all Sentara Healthcare hospitals and outpatient facilities, are now able to receive timely text messages during critical safety events. A new opt-in emergency notification service dubbed SentarAlert allows anyone in Sentara facilities to receive the same texts Sentara employees receive through our emergency notification system (ENS).

SentarAlert allows patients and visitors to text a keyword unique to each Sentara facility or region to 333111 and immediately begin receiving critical safety messages. SentarAlert will begin the service with two critical safety notifications: Active Shooter and Evacuation. At 120 characters, notifications are brief and cryptic, like tweets, and designed to be augmented by overhead pages in hospitals and sites with public address systems.

Sentara takes safety very seriously. We want to ensure our patients and guests are informed of emergency situations as they arise,” explains Tim Bowers, MS, CHSO, Director of Security for Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. “Sentara is offering a new emergency notification system to anyone who signs up. This system is very similar to those used on college campuses and by governments across the nation to alert authorized people of emergency situations. To receive the Sentara Northern Virginia emergency notifications on your phone, please text the keyword SENTARANV to 333111.”

Opt-in subscriptions last for seven-day cycles when subscribers are notified by text that they are unsubscribed. But they can subscribe again right away for the next cycle. SentarAlert is designed as a safety enhancement for patients and visitors while they are in Sentara hospitals, nursing centers, therapy centers and other ambulatory sites of care. The texts are designed to help employees, patients and visitors make informed decisions during critical safety events.

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