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Around Town

Volunteers needed for Civil War festivities
The Prince William Convention and Visitors Bureau has called for volunteers to assist with parking, hand out brochures as well as tackle a wide range of other tasks during this year’s 150th Civil War Celebration, reports NOVA Fortnighlty.

Police search alleged killer’s cell phone
Fairfax County police have recently searched the cell phone of the man charged with killing another man in the county’s Belle View area April 13, Kingstowne Patch reports.

Snapping the right nature photo
Something just in time for getting outdoors this summer: picking the right camera to capture all of your outdoor nature shots. Area blog Your Piece of the Planet has posted some tips for budding photographers.

Residents asked to conserve water
From the nearby news file: Officials in Caroline County have asked residents to conserve water after a water pump that provides H20 to residents and businesses failed, reports

D.C.’s dumbest drivers
A new survey finds Washington, D.C. has the dumbest drivers on the road, according to results of drivers exams, reports

In Lorton, It’s About the Sweets

Lorton, Va. –– Jose Murillo has some of the best looking strawberries at the Lorton Farmer’s Market.

His farm, Mt. Olympus Farm in Ruther Glen, specializes in bright red, tasty strawberries and they put them on display for everyone to see.

It takes a while to get the perfect strawberry. We put them in the ground in October and we most times we have to keep water on them to keep them from frosting,” said Murillo.

He’s one of about 10 vendors at the market held between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sundays, between May 1 and November 7, at the Lorton Virginia Railway Express station.

In addition to strawberries, there is sweet corn, sweet treats and even something for the pet at home.

It’s one of Murillo’s favorite markets to come to because of the people who shop here, and because he is able charge a little more for his goods then he can at the Dale City Farmers Market, which he also participates in.

Dangerous Temps Forecasted

Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start of summer, but the Mother Nature is giving sure signs the hottest season of the year has arrived.

A heat advisory goes into effect for the Washington area at noon Monday and will last until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

High temperatures on Monday will be in the low to mid 90s, and in the high 90s on Tuesday. But the humidity will drive up the heat index making it feel like 100 to 105 degrees outside.

The high temperatures can cause illness in those who are exposed to the high temperatures.

Those who don’t have to be out in the heat are urged to stay indoors. Those who do should drink plenty of water, and find shade and take frequent breaks.

The first heat wave of the season should last through Wednesday, when showers and thunderstorms could move through the area bringing with them lower temperatures with highs in the 80s for Thursday and Friday.

The first day of summer, or the summer solstice, is June 21.

Storms Bring Downed Trees, Power Outages

Update 7:48 p.m.
Dominion Virginia Power reports more than 4,300 customers without power in Burke area.

Update 7:30 p.m.
Dominion Virginia Power reports more than 2,500 customers without power in North Stafford following severe storm that just moved through area. Utility crews report an estimated repair time between 9 and 11 p.m.

Original Post 7:15 p.m.
Fire and rescue crews have fanned out across Stafford County inspecting downed trees and reports of auto accidents after a strong storm moved through the area tonight.

There have been multiple reports of downed trees across the county, said Stafford fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle.

That same storm is now moving its north through Woodbridge and is expected to impact the Lorton and Springfield areas within the hour.

A tornado warning for North Stafford and the Dale City expired at 7:15 p.m. A severe thunderstorm warning continues for Woodbridge and southern Fairfax County until 7:45 p.m.

Crime Watch: Woman Abducted, Shots Fired

Warrants issued after woman abducted, assaulted
A woman was abducted by an acquaintance after an argument, police say.

Officers were called to a home in the 1500 block of Walnut Street in Woodbridge after the 33-year-old victim said she was assaulted by a male acquaintance that held her against her will.

The victim was eventually able to leave the house and call police the following day, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Police are unable to locate the man accused in the attack.

Investigators have issued warrants for Juan Carlos Ramirez, 24, of Woodbridge, charging him with abduction, intent to defile and malicious wounding, said Perok.

He’s described as Hispanic, between 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown eyes and black hair.

Woman hears shots, finds bullet holes
A woman who was watching TV at her home Friday heard gunshots ring out, and then noticed a large hole in her bathroom window.

The shots were fired at 12:03 a.m. in the 3100 block of Chesapeake Drive in Woodbridge, just off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1).

After seeing the hole in her bathroom window, she noticed another one in an adjacent window, police said.

No one was injured.

Home burglarized, cash missing from safe
Cash was reported missing from a safe at a home in North Stafford on Thursday.

Police say a home on Park Road in the Windsor Forest neighborhood was broken into between 8 and 11 a.m. Thursday.

The homeowner told Stafford sheriff’s deputies when he returned home items in the house were out of place, and saw that a window had been opened, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Man robbed in Triangle
A 56-year-old man told police he was robbed in the 18200 block of Graham Court in Triangle at 12:50 a.m. Saturday.

The man was getting out of his vehicle when he was approached by a group of men that took his wallet, which had an undisclosed amount of money inside, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The men fled on foot and the victim was not injured. The victim was not able to provide a description of any of the men, police say.

Fairfax to Start Full-Day Kindergarten

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Fairfax County, Va. –– Fairfax County Public Schools has adopted a budget for fiscal year 2012 which includes expanding full day kindergarten to all of Fairfax County.

The $2.2 billion budget also includes a one percent market scale adjustment for all employees and step increased for those eligible, according to a Fairfax County Public Schools release.

While several Fairfax County schools already have full-day kindergarten, the 36 remaining schools where the program was not yet implemented will begin in September, which will include the creation of 152 new positions to support the program.

School Board Chairman Kathy Smith noted “we were pleased to be able to complete the rollout of full-day kindergarten, which is so important in preparing our children to achieve their potential.”

The budget keeps a reserve balance of $60.6 million to address future obligations to the Virginia Retirement System, and also includes $4.3 million to help implement mandated online testing for Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.

The Board also voted to eliminate fees for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests, according to the press release.

The 2012 budget predicts a 2,333 student increase, including a 16.5 percent increase in English for Speakers of Other Languages.  The budget also predicts that one in four students will be eligible for the free or reduced priced meal program.

First Thunderstorms, Then Hot

The Memorial Day weekend starts in the Potomac Communities tonight with the region under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a possibility of strong thunderstorms after 4 p.m.

If the weather turns severe, turn to us for updates.

Just after 1 p.m. Friday, the temperature at Regan Washington National Airport was 83 degrees. Temperatures were forecast to climb into the upper 80s on Friday, according to the weather service.

The forecast calls for much of the same weather on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid 80s and a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms.

Expect it to be hot on Sunday, as the threat of storms diminishes and the mercury is forecast to climb into the 90s.

On Memorial Day, it’ll be even hotter outside with temperatures with a forecast high of 95 degrees.

VRE Preps for Crowding Today

A Virginia Railway Express train pulls into the Woodbridge station. (File Photo: Mary Davidson)

As commuters get ready to head home for the long holiday weekend, Virginia Railway Express has added extra cars to trains to accommodate passengers.

The most crowded trains this afternoon are expected to be Fredericksburg line train #303 and Manassas line train #307.

Those two trains will be the longest VRE trains this afternoon, according to a VRE spokesman.

The transit system also reminds passengers there will be no service Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

The longer trains come after passengers on the railroad this week experience major delays Tuesday night, when a freight train broke down on the tracks in a critical junction point between VRE’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines.

The disabled train delayed VRE trains for up to 70 minutes, forcing some passengers to take cab rides to get home.

The railroad offered to reimburse passengers for the cost of those rides in a apology statement sent to its riders Wednesday.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience this unusual situation caused and will continue to work hard to avoid anything like it in the future,” VRE stated.

VRE says officials from Keolis, the company contracted to operate VRE trains and CSX, the owners of the railroad, were on the scene for hours Tuesday trying to get the train moving.

In the end, Amtrak was able to provide some additional equipment to get the train moving again.

Highways to Fill with Holiday Travelers

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/

Traveling by car this Memorial Day weekend? You’re not alone.

Nine out of 10 people in the Washington area are expected to pack the car and head to their vacation destination spot this weekend to herald the unofficial start of summer.

Many of them will travel more than 50 miles to their destinations, a break from the past when more people chose to stay home due to high gas prices and a troubled economy.

“Scrimp and save and still go. That’s the new travel reality and paradigm for Washington area travelers during the first holiday weekend of summer,” said AAA Mid Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II. “Amazingly, more Washington residents, nine out of ten, will travel by automobile this year than last, even with sky-high gasoline prices along the way. In fact, automobile travel continues to be the dominant mode of transportation for local residents this Memorial Day.”

More people from our area will be traveling this weekend than last Memorial Day, an expected 1.4 percent increase.

Room rates are nearby beaches, Virginia Beach and Ocean City, Md., are well over $200 per night and many have been sold out.

Travelers told AAA Mid Atlantic they will spend less while at their destination spots to compensate on fuel prices.

The automobile agency says auto travel is expected to be up this year slightly, by 0.7 percent, air travel up by 12.7 percent, and all other forms of travel down by 11.2 percent.

Gas prices are also higher this year than they were last year.  The average price for a gallon of gas in the Potomac Communities averages $3.87 per gallon, according to AAA Fuel Price Finder.

Last year, the average price for a gallon of gas in the same areas was $2.75.

Around Town

Fairfax County asks for delay of Mark Center opening
Now, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have asked for a delay in opening the massive Mark Center building where thousands of federal employees will relocate, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

House to vote on BRAC delay
And with that request, the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to vote on a bill that would delay the BRAC move and would give officials more time to prepare for the move, reports The Washington Business Journal.

Manassas gets new fire chief
At first he was hesitant, but now Brett Bowman says he’s ready to be the next fire chief for Manassas and took the job on Monday, reports

Kaine won’t commit on Obama budget
The president proposed his budget for 2012, but Senate contender and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, would not say how he would have voted on the proposed budget if he were serving in the senate chamber, reports The Washington Post.

Area jewelry shop makes charity a priority
One area jewelry shop has made charity a big part of their business, and now the Washington Post profiles the owner.

Memorial Day Closings

It’s the annual, unofficial start to summer! Memorial Day weekend is here, the time where we take an extra day off of work to honor those who have served their country. Because it’s a holiday, it won’t be business as usual for many municipal agencies.

Fairfax County
Government offices – Closed Monday May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30

Prince William County
Government offices – Closed Monday ,May 20, 2011

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30, 2011

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 20, 2011

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, 2011, neighborhood libraries closed Saturday, May 28 through May 20, 2011. All branches to reopen May 31, 2011.

Stafford County
Government offices – Closed Monday, May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 30. Will reopen Tuesday, May 31 for regular business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. Will reopen normal hours Tuesday, May 31.

Traffic and Transit

I-95 / 395 / 66 High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
HOV Resrtrictions lifted Monday May 30, 2011

I-95/395 lanes to run southbound from 1 p.m. Friday, May 27 until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28. Lanes will run northbound from 4 p.m. through the remainder of the weekend.
The lanes will CLOSE to regular traffic Sunday for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle event, between 7:30 and 11 a.m.

Fairfax Connector Bus – Sunday schedule on Monday, May 30, 2011

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission – No service Monday, May 30, 2011

Virginia Railway Express – No Service Monday, May 30, 2011

Metrorail – Washington’s Metrorail will conduct track maintenance over the weekend. Riders are asked to plan ahead for delays.

Around Town

Teacher raises on the way
Teachers in Stafford County will get step raises during the next school year, reports

Unpopular commuter lot
Despite a shuttle bus and two new Slug lines, still too few people are using a commuter lot at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, reports

Bus fares raised
It’s going to cost you more to ride FRED buses in Stafford and Fredericksburg, reports Fredericksburg Patch.

Fairfax buses to change routes near Ft. Belvoir
Fairfax Connector bus service is expanding as the BRAC closure/open date draws near, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

No Walmart for Wilderness
Walmart  won’t build a new store on the site of a Civil War battlefield in Wilderness, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Around Town

Community college tuition going up
It’s going to cost more to attend a Virginia Community College next year, reports.

You can help tornado victims
After the deadliest tornado in 60 years ripped through Joplin, MO on Monday, there are ways you can help the victims, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

PWC BOCS member eyes state senate
A Prince William County Board of Supervisors member will run for Virginia’s Senate, reports The Washington Post.

Endangered historical sites named
Some of the most endangered historic sites in Virginia have been named, and at least one of them is in Stafford County, reports

FRED bus service to hold hearing on fare increase
FRED is looking at another fare increase, reports

Metro names too long
The names of some Metro stations in the region are too long, and now transit authorities want to do something about that, reports Greater Greater Washington.

Area High Schools Among Best in Region

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Several schools in the Potomac Communities have placed among the top 100 in the area according to the Washington Post’s “High School Challenge”.

The survey ranks high schools in the Washington area. C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge placed number 58 followed directly by Lorton’s South County Secondary School.  Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge came in at number 84, Stafford’s Colonial Forge High School registered just behind that at 86, and Forest Park High School, also in Woodbridge, finished out at 99.

This year’s rankings featured some changes from the 2010 Challenge. Hylton’s position moved 10 places from last year’s 48th position.  South County also moved in the wrong direction from last year’s 44th.   Gar Field was in 77th position last year, although Colonial Forge held steady at 86th. Forest Park made a positive change, however, moving from 101 last year into the top 100 this year.

The annual challenge ratings are based on “a simple formula” according to The Washington Post, with rankings derived from dividing the number of college-level tests a school gave by the number of graduating seniors.  The Washington Post feels this rating “can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.”

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

Area Under Storm Watch

This past weekend’s sunny and pleasant weather has given way to the potential of another work week filled with stormy weather.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued Monday until 6 p.m. for the Potomac Communities, as forecasters said strong storms could move into the region, some of which may contain damaging winds and hail.

Rising temperatures into the mid 80s will also support thunderstorms, much like we saw last week.

Those thunderstorms could last into the evening, as temperatures are expected to drop into the mid 60s, according to the National Weather Service.

As for the rest of the week, the forecast thorough Thursday afternoon resembles a broken record:

Tuesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 86. South wind between 8 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Tuesday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 64. West wind between 6 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Wednesday: A slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8am. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. North wind between 6 and 9 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Wednesday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 65. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 88. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 66.

Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

-National Weather Service

Lorton Man Killed in Crash

A Lorton man was killed in a crash Friday morning in Spotsylvania County.

Marshall Mitchell, 34, was killed when he was riding in a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe traveling south on Benchmark Road, near Mine Road.

The SUV ran off the right side of the road, and Mitchell was ejected when the driver crossed over the left side of the road and over corrected, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler.

Mitchell was not wearing a seatbelt.

The driver of the SUV, 32-year-old Jui Shelton of Spotsylvania, is charged with driving under the influence, said Tyler.

Around Town

County leaders still at odds over planned Brooke development
Stafford’s Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission have long been at odds with each other on a plan to place 4,000 planned residential units. But a recent move by the Planning Commission to remove a planned development area from the county’s Brooke area may not have been completely legal, reports.

And the tailgate played on
Though Jiffy Lube Live has banned the practice of tailgating before shows, some tailgating faithful on Saturday found a way to continue the tradition outside the concert venue, reports

Porta potty pulled from river
It not your average rescue on the river. Crews worked to pull a stranded porta potty from the Rappahannock River, reports

Mason changes to green graduation gowns
George Mason University has always used green graduation gowns, but this year they are especially green, reports Connect2Mason.

Lawsuit filed over Wegmans
Plans for a Wegmans grocery store in Franconia are still being questioned, reports the Washington Business Journal.

Around Town

Outer beltway plans back on table
The western bypass, the outer beltway, whatever you call it officials have put the road back on the drawing board and have identified a swath of land where it could someday be built, reports

Female jail inmate dies, 2 stories of her death emerge
After a female inmate died after being incarcerated at Stafford County’s Rappahannock Regional Jail, two different stories are emerging of how she died, reports Fredericksburg Patch.

Virginia’s computer meltdown is going to cost one company
It was a massive computer meltdown that affected multiple state offices last summer, and forced who needed to renew their drivers licenses to go home empty handed. Now one company is going to have to pay, reports The Washington Post.

VRE ridership up
Rider ship on Virginia Railway express is on the rise, reports

Around Town

Stafford County approves growth plan
Stafford County officials have approved a new plan that will govern growth in the county for the next 20 years that includes which areas will see the most growth, reports.

Rare color photos of Depression released
The Library of Congress has released a series of rare color photos that depict what life was like in America in the late 1930s and early 1940s, reports Virginia Virtucon.

County exec gets a raise
Prince William’s County Executive gets a $4,000 raise to her $209,000 per year salary, reports

Kaine says gays should be allowed to adopt
In a reversal of position, Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine says gay should now be allowed to adopt, reports The Washington Post.

Postal service needs new vehicles
The U.S. Postal Service has a lot of aging vehicles, so what do they need to do to replace them? The Washington Business Journal reports.

Metro map distorts distances
Some people truly believe Washington’s Metro map gives them an accurate idea of how close or far destinations in the city are from each other. That map is greatly distorted, reports Greater Greater Washington.

Mary Washington tuition rates rising
Tuition rates are going up at Fredericksburg’s Mary Washington University, reports The Bullet.

New Mason coach meets with players, families
It’s been two weeks since George Mason University named its new basketball coach, and since then hes’ been busy shaping the future of the team, reports Connect2Mason.

Outer beltway plans back on table
Plans for an outer beltway in Prince William and Loudoun counties are once again being discussed, reports

Resident wins big on Jeopardy
A Stafford County resident won big on Jeopardy, to the tune of $50,000, reports Stafford County Sun.

Celebrate Youth in the Arts With the Workhouse

Lorton Workhouse Arts Center

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton will be celebrating youth in the arts this Saturday with a free community day.

“Youth in the Arts Day” will feature Workhouse artists and teachers as well as student performing groups from around the community.

Demonstrations and performances are scheduled to include how to create a cone critter, the Saunders Middle School 8th Grade Advanced Choir, Center Stage Dance Company, Spot-LYTE, hula dancers and more.

The Youth in the Arts Day is sponsored in part by Complete Construction Management and requires no tickets or purchase.

A suggested $5 donation is requested which will support the Lorton Arts Foundation, which funds the Workhouse Arts Center.

Around Town

Volunteers with Dominion Virginia Power helped improve the trails at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge on Tuesday.

McDonnell to appeal FEMA denial
Virginia’s governor will appeal FEMA’s decision to thrice deny federal assistance after tornadoes ripped through parts of the state last month.

Improvements coming to dangerous Logmill Road in Prince William County
It’s a dangerous road in Prince William County, the site of multiple deaths of young people in the past two years. Now, leaders have approved a plan to make the road easier to drive, reports

Planes flied high over Manassas air festival
Take a ride over the Manassas Regional Airport Wings, Wheels and Warriors Show, where if the pilot tells you to bail out of the plane you’d better be ready, reports Manassas Patch.

Purple Line cost rises
Washington’s Metro system wants to expand by adding a Purple Line in Maryland, but the project just got delayed and the price tag much higher, reports

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