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Occoquan Local

Updated: Afternoon VRE Fredericksburg line trains on ‘S’ schedule after pedestrian killed

A Virginia Railway Express train struck and killed a man this morning near the Leeland Road station in Stafford County. 

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller made this statement by email:

At 5:20 a.m. Monday, Virginia State Police responded to a fatal crash in Stafford County.  A northbound Virginia Railway Express (VRE) train struck and killed a pedestrian on the tracks. The incident is under investigation at this time.

Police did not release the name of the victim.

Trains on VRE’s Fredericksburg line were delayed due to the incident. The commuter railroad urged riders to find another way to work

The incident will have impacts on the afternoon commute, too. 


Trains on the Fredericksburg line resumed operation just before 10 a.m. 


‘Little Bits’ of art appear in Downtown Manassas

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Little Bits of art are popping up all over Historic Downtown Manassas.

There’s a stylized snake coiled around electrical conduit painted by local artist Michelle Frantz near the newly opened Center Street Gourmet Wine and Cheese store on the corner of West and Center Streets.

A steel door on the rear of City Hall was painted in Trompe-L’oeil style to represent a lion head fountain by commission artist Stephen Morales and adjacent individual bricks have been painted by local artists including gallery owner Mary Reilly.

In front of Downtown favorite Okra’s restaurant is a fire hydrant stylistically rendered as a Dalmatian from Manassas Fire Company 501 by artist and gallery owner Mike Flynn.

Near CutRate Barbershop, a veteran owned business across Center Street from Carmello’s and Monza’s, is a sidewalk bench converted into an American Flag by City Economic Development Director Patrick Small and Michelle Frantz.

These are a just few of the completed and in-progress projects that are laying the groundwork for the City to attract artists from across the region to express their creativity using public infrastructure and private buildings as their canvass.

Manassas is seeking local artists who have an interest in contributing to the work going on Downtown. A local ad hoc committee comprised of City officials, artists and citizens has plenty of ideas about potential projects. These include painting utility boxes, light poles and tree grates.

“But we are really looking for artists to propose projects to us” says Manassas Economic Development Director Patrick Small. “Creativity and inspiration are some of the unique traits artists possess. I want people interested in participating to walk around Historic Downtown and develop their own ideas.”

Proposals must be submitted as a rendering or in descriptive enough a manner that the committee can visualize the project and the artist must identify the piece of infrastructure and the types of materials that will be used.  

Initially the committee has focused on small projects (#LittleBits) but hopes to expand into promoting murals and sculpture soon. Because Downtown is officially designated as an historic district, painting murals on buildings requires specific standards and a more official review process.

Manassas has an architectural review board that will consider ways to allow building owners to do this. While they can be complicated to produce, murals are really just paintings and do not affect the historic integrity of the structures.

This type of art is considerably more involved from a time and materials perspective so while there may be some artists willing to undertake a project using their own resources, generally murals are commissioned works. The committee hopes to identify businesses, building owners and donors willing to commission these works.  

Visit or contact Patrick Small at to learn how to participate.

New park means improvements to Occoquan River foot bridge

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A foot bridge over the Occoquan River provides an expansive view of the town, and a small waterfall. 

Once a bridge that carried vehicles over the river 40 years ago, today’s smaller footpath provides walkway for an easy stroll through town for for residents and visitors.

The bridge also provides a great view of the town’s new Rivermill Park that is currently under construction. The park will bring visible changes to the bridge, and visitors to this fall’s annual Occoquan Craft Show on Sept. 26 and 27 should notice some of those changes. 

Here’s more from Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Jovanovich: 

We’re about to start the second phase of park construction in a few weeks, which includes the construction of the restroom and storage facility and improvements to the footbridge that crosses the Occoquan River.

 During the upcoming Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show on September 26 and 27, visitors will see the changes in progress as we expect to have one side of the chain link fence removed and replaced with railing, as well as some of the lights installed along the footbridge.

People will still be able to utilize the footbridge as part of the shuttle stop service for the Fall Arts and Crafts Show. However, after the show and as construction continues, the bridge will be closed at various points for safety reasons as conduits, lighting and railing are being installed on the footbridge.  

The construction of this portion of the project is expected to last until December of this year. We’re also currently working on the next phase of the project, which includes the construction of a pavilion and completion of the looped stone-dust trail inside the park.  

Plans for this portion of the project are currently under review.  The park is not yet open as it continues to be an active construction site, but staff is currently working on a grand opening event for Spring of 2016 to celebrate the success of this joint project with the Town, Prince William County and Fairfax Water.

The site on which the park sits used to be a drinking water facility owned by Fairfax Water. 

Anderson, Porta to debate for Occoquan seat Oct. 16

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Candidates Earnie Porta and Ruth Anderson for Occoquan district supervisor will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on October 16 at 7 p.m.

The candidates are looking to fill the seat currently filled by Supervisor Michael May, who is running for Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney.



You may submit questions for the Occoquan supervisor debate.

The debate will be held at Lake Ridge Middle School at 12350 Mohican Road in Lake Ridge.

Potomac Local is sponsoring the event, in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.

Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser will be moderating the debate.

The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:
— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats

Potomac Local will accept reader-submitted questions that may be asked of the candidates during the debates.

The event is open to the public.

Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the building and must be removed upon event conclusion.

Lots of yummy fun at Prince William County Fair

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There is nothing like sausage, peppers, and onions when it comes to eats at the fair.

Served on a bun with fries and a cola, bangers are a time-honored classic at the county fair.

“Sausage. It’s fair food,” said Billy, of New York City, whose been travel across the U.S. making fair food for 47 years”They’ve been serving since this the 1800s.”

He starts cooking the sausage at least hours before the fairground opens to the public, and then adds the peppers and onions later in the process. Hand-dipped corn dogs and French fries are another fair delicacies you can find at Billy’s cart.

There’s a lot of food to eat at the Prince William County Fair. From burgers, chicken, turkey legs, and pizza, there’s enough here to make your cholesterol rise just thinking about eating here.

There’s also sweet treats to eat, like ice cream and funnel cakes.

It really about having the right batter, the right temperature, and the right technique, and you’ll get the perfect funnel cake,” said Corona Tidmore, of Lonestart, Texas, who travels up and down the east coast making funnel cakes at fairs.

She’ll make hundreds of funnel cakes over the course of the fair. She’ll put toppings like cherries, drizzled chocolate, and the most popular of toppings strawberries and cooked apples.

“The apples taste like apple pie and the starwberries — everybody likes strawberries,” said Tidmore.

The Prince William County Fair runs through Aug. 22, 2015.

Prince William County Fair opens

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The Prince William County Fair opens for its 2015 run tonight.

This is the 66th year for the county fair, which offers a little something for everyone — from carnival rides, animals, music, to demolition derby in the grandstand.

The runs Aug. 14 to 22 at the Prince William County Fairgrounds at 10624 Dumfries Road in Manassas. Everyone gets into the fair for $6 for opening night August, 14, 2015.

Here are the prices and special dates for the remainder of the fair:

General admission: $10
Child (ages5-13) and seniors (ages 60 or older) $6
Half-price day is Monday, Aug. 17, child/seniors $3 and adults $5
Tuesday is $2 admission, $2 per ride (no wristbands)
All ladies admitted free Wednesday, Aug. 19
All veterans admitted free Thursday, Aug. 20
Active duty military admitted free daily
There are several new attractions to the fair this year:

Welde’s Big Bear Show
Jeff Robbins Mountain Music
Ackmonster Chainsaw Artist
No-Joe’s Clown Circus
Jurassic Kingdom
Comedian Reggie Rice

The home arts exhibits are always popular at the Prince William County Fair. It’s where anyone can bring produce they’ve grown at home, food, and crafts into be judged. Prizes are awarded for everything from best-looking produce, best photography, best canned good, to tastiest jelly.

“The home arts department is a dying breed, especially here in Northern Virginia. It’s something that is truly unique to a county fair,” said spokeswoman Chrissy Taylor.

Some of the fair’s largest attractions — tractor pull, demolition derby, and “bulls ‘n barrels” show — will be featured in the grandstand and are free with admission.

Fair organizers listed this year’s events for the 10-day run.

Updated: No debate between Foreman, Surovell

Update 12:30 p.m.

We reported earlier today Democrat Scott Surrovell and Republican Gerald “Jerry” Foreman would meet for a debate in Occoquan later this month. We were wrong, as no debate between the two candidates vying to replace longtime Virginia State Senator Toddy Puller (D-36, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford), is scheduled.

At first glance, it appeared Surovell had taken it upon himself to schedule a debate himself.

After seeing the announcement, Potomac Local emailed Foreman campaign manager Shannon Duffy on Tuesday and asked if Surovell’s Tweet was legitimate.  We got this emailed response the next day: 

occoquan debate screen shot


Later in the day, we got this email from the Foreman campaign: 

occoquan debate screen shot3


With that statement in hand, we reported the two would soon meet for a debate in Occoquan as noted by the Surovell campaign. 

It turns out we were wrong.

The Facebook post contains a letter in which he says a blogger Ben Tribbett employed by the Surovell campaign has made scheduling debates difficult. He outlined his thoughts on Tribbett on his website.


We’ll be sure to post the date, time, and location of any upcoming debate to this post when we have it.

Update 9:41 a.m. 

Potomac Local received a call from Surovell, stating that while we received a statement confirming the debate, his campaign team did not. We have reached out to Foreman for clarification and will keep you updated on the latest.

Original post 9:17 a.m.

Candidates Delegate Scott Surovell and Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman will meet for a debate on August 26 in Occoquan.

Surovell and Foreman are running for Virginia’s 36th district Senate seat that covers parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford counties.

The seat is being vacated by long time incumbent Senator Toddy Puller, who will be retiring this year.

The debate will be held at the Occoquan Town Hall on 314 Mill Street from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

According to a letter sent from Surovell to Foreman, the debate will be informal without any moderator or set rules, where the candidates can ask each other questions.

Surovell made the initial call for a series of debates for the race at the end of July.

“It’s time for Mayor Foreman to stop hiding behind negative push polls and debate me face to face. I propose we hold a series of debates in every section of the District so the voters can come hear our vision for the Route 1 Corridor,” stated Surovell in a release.

Foreman accepted the request to hold at least six debates before Election Day on November 3.

“I very much look forward to debating Delegate Surovell, and frankly, I am willing to go beyond his offer of six debates, and hold one every week in September and October if he’s willing,” stated Foreman.

*The debate is being hosted independently by the candidates.

Manassas, Prince William vie for more weddings

Calling all brides to Harris Pavilion.

Manassas will host its first-ever bridal show underneath the popular destination. It’s the same spot where city employee Thomas Joyce wed his sweetheart Ashley Thiesing on live TV July 31.

It’s the next move for a city that is working to market itself as a wedding destination.

“The Harris Pavilion is a great wedding venue with the trademark Virginia LOVE sign hanging behind it. The Manassas Museum Lawn is also ideal for a large outdoor wedding (when Liberia Plantation is finished with restoration, it is another option for outdoor weddings). The Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory is another unique wedding venue for a smaller, more intimate wedding,” said Historic Manassas, Inc. spokeswoman Brittany Bowman.

The show on Sunday, Sept. 6 will feature local businesses like caterers, shops with unique wedding gift ideas, wedding dress boutiques, and spas. While most bridal shows are held in spring, organizers of the Manassas show wanted to take advantage of the still-warm September weather in hopes it will help bring out brides to be.

“We are hoping to attract recently engaged women who plan on getting married in the next 18 months searching for an authentic wedding,” said Bowman.

The city hopes to make the bridal show an annual event, she added.

Prince William County is also in the wedding business, of sorts. The county’s Historic Properties Division manages some of the most historic sites in the region, like the county’s first courthouse at Bristow, to the 18th-century tobacco plantation, and the oldest house ni Prince William County, Rippon Lodge.

“Our sites give people the option of an affordable location that has a great history, scenery, and originality. All of our sites are over 100 years old and have defined this community,” said historic properties spokesman Rob Orrison.

Open flames aren’t allowed in the historic buildings, but, surprisingly, alcohol is, with the proper permits. Users may visit the county’s website to reserve a historic and read a list of freqeuntly asked questions.

Manassas a magnet for creative, performing arts

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The Arts and Tourism District is in Historic Downtown Manassas.

Manassas already boasted the renowned Center for the Arts where visual and performing arts are taught, practiced and displayed as well as the highly regarded local studios and galleries, Creative Brush and ArtBeat. But local artists and community leaders wanted more.

The city council has a vision for Manassas to become known as an arts and cultural center in Northern Virginia, and beyond.

Last year the city converted the hallway on the first floor of City Hall into an art gallery aptly named “The Hall at City Hall.” The gallery has featured paintings, photographic art and works by local art students at Osborn High School and changes artwork every six weeks so there are regularly new displays.

Another example is the banner art displayed on light poles throughout Historic Downtown. The juried competition attracted artists from throughout the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Sixty of the more than 130 entries were transformed into public art that is on display seasonally until winter.

Historic Manassas Inc., the city’s Virginia Main Street Program, oversaw the project and intends to repeat it annually. The top -ranked submission, as judged by a panel of professional artists, received a $1,000 cash prize and at the end of the season one artist will be awarded the “People’s Choice” prize of $500. Ballots for this are included in a brochure describing each piece and available at the City’s visitor center in the historic train station adjacent to the municipal parking garage.

But it’s not all just about the visual arts.

Manassas also boasts the second largest ballet company in Virginia. The work of the Manassas Ballet Theater is recognized in the national and international press.

This attention helps contribute to Manassas becoming known as a regional arts and tourist destination. Further, Manassas worked closely with George Mason University, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Prince William County to bring the Hylton Performing Arts Center from dream to reality. The city continues to provide support to ensure the performing arts venue remains an asset for the citizens of Manassas and the surrounding area as well as attracting visitors.

There are many other local performing and visual arts groups and businesses in the city too numerous to mention in this article; all of which exist to teach, promote or display the vibrant culture of this historic yet modern city.

Prince William schools surpass Virginia SOL scores

Prince William County Public School students beat the pass rates of counterparts statewide on the latest Standards of Learninga ssessments in almost all subject areas, and across most demographic groups, according to initial results released today by the Virginia Department of Education. [Read more]

Stop commuting to DC! SRA is Hiring!

SRA is seeking qualified professionals who currently hold a DoD TS/SCI clearance to work in the Stafford, VA, area in support of the newly awarded contract, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Information Technology Directorate Services (ITDS)

If you are cleared and have one of the following skillsets, we would like to meet you at our recruitment invitational which will take place multiple days next week.  Visit us at where you can create a candidate profile against opportunity 5053: NCIS Event Requisition.  After receiving your resume, a SRA Recruiter will contact you within 24 hours.

We are looking for highly motivated people to fill the following positions:

Information Assurance Engineers Network Engineers
Systems Administrators Business Systems Analysts
Content Administrators Geospatial Engineers
Field Computer Specialists Software Developers
Systems Integrators Software Testers
Requirements Analysts

Database Administrators

User Support Specialists

VOIP Engineers

About SRA International, Inc. 

SRA International, Inc. is a leading provider of sophisticated information technology and professional services to the U.S. federal government. Our services help our government customers address complex IT needs in order to achieve their missions. We are inspired by our customers’ missions and strive to provide the best people, working together to generate the best ideas, to deliver the best possible performance – all driven by our enduring values of Honesty and Service®. SRA was founded in 1978. We are headquartered in Fairfax, VA and employ approximately 5,600 professionals.

The ladies who bring history to life at Civil War Weekend in Manassas

Civil War Weekend is not just about fighting and strategy.  It’s about the upheavals of lives and it’s about the lives of women during the Civil War.  

Living historians will portray Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse; Dorothea Dix, an American activist who created the first American mental asylums; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidante; the wives of Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Isaac Trimble.  Barbara Smith and Hendrina Appelt will speak to audiences about the role of women in the war.

Tracey McIntire and Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller will speak about the experiences of more than four hundred women who disguised themselves as men and served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. They will speak not only about individual soldiers, but about gender roles and military culture during the era.

Inside the Manassas Museum, join museum curator Mary Helen Dellinger for Chats with the Curator.  These will highlight unusual items in the Museum collection. Prince William County Historic Site Operations Supervisor Rob Orrison will speak about the joint city-county exhibit, New World Aristocracy: The Carters of Virginia, and guest curator Chesney Rhodes will speak about her exhibit, Partisans Among Playmates: American Childhood and the Civil War.

At nearby Liberia Plantation, 8601 Portner Avenue, stroll through the shade-filled grounds and hear the accounts of well-known Confederate Spy Rose Greenhow, portrayed by Emily Lapisardi. A living historian who has presented historical impersonations in nine states and the District of Columbia, Lapisardi will tell the stories of Liberia’s connection to Civil War spy rings and Greenhow’s ability to glean information from Union admirers. 

Interpreter Marion Dobbins will bring to life a more local slave experience as she presents a portrayal of slave life at Liberia, once the largest slave-holding plantation in the area. Dobbins will also cook over an open fire, and talk about African-American “foodways” and culture.

Check for the weekend’s latest schedule.


5 local spots for great seafood

Looking to savor great seafood without having to go very far to get it?  These hidden hideaways right here in Prince William & Manassas, will transport you to a seaside retreat to indulge in fruity cocktails and fresh seafood. With a wide variety of activities, live music and more there is sure to be something for everyone at one of these local eateries.

Tim’s Rivershore – Located in Woodbridge, this waterfront restaurant sits on one of the widest points of the Potomac River and offers panoramic views of the river. The view can be enjoyed from inside the restaurants dining room, on the outdoor deck or at the torch-lit tiki bar and beach. 

From monthly full moon bonfires on the beach to their annual “Not on the 4th” fireworks display there is a constant flow of events, live music and festivals held here every year. Serving fresh crabs, oysters, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and fish as well as steaks, burgers, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches this family-friendly restaurant is a must visit.

Blue Ridge Seafood – Find a southern twist on traditional seafood dishes in Gainesville, at Blue Ridge Seafood.  From fried frog legs to alligator bites and crawfish you are in for a treat when visiting this southern seafood hideaway.  More traditional fare such as fresh crabs, seasonal fish, hush puppies and french fries are also offered. 

Plan a night out with family and friends to enjoy live music on the back deck or stop in and pick up crabs and hush puppies to enjoy at home.  Their backyard tiki bar is the perfect backdrop to any happy hour too!

Crosby’s Crab Co. – Rated one of the best places to find fresh fish, lobster, crabs and oysters in Northern Virginia by Washingtonian Magazine, Crosby’s Crab Company prides itself on its fresh seafood selection.  In addition to a variety of local seafood to choose from they also have alligator, frog legs and octopus available for the brave and curious.

A more traditional seafood market, they offer carry out service only and can often be found at the Historic Downtown Manassas Farmers Market on Saturdays during the summer months. Crosby’s is open year round to satisfy any seafood cravings.

CJ Finz Raw Bar & Grill – A surf and turf restaurant offering coastal dining with a hometown feel, is what guests will find at CJ Finz Raw Bar & Grill in the heart of Historic Downtown Manassas.  Offering a hint of the Outer Banks in Northern Virginia, diners can relax on the rooftop deck while enjoying freshly shucked oysters or a beer from one of the local breweries.

This family friendly restaurant offers a wide variety of seafood and southern style dishes from fried pickles to oyster po-boy sandwiches. It is a must visit next time you are in the mood for a convenient get away with great food and amazing views.

Madigan’s Waterfront – Whether you are looking for a special place for date night or a unique location for your next private event, this waterfront retreat can accommodate both.  Overlooking the Occoquan River and marina patrons can select from a variety of seafood dishes and seating options that are sure to please. 

The topside deck and tiki bar play host to live music and entertainment throughout the summer months, making it the perfect spot to sit back and relax. From candlelit riverside dining to karaoke and dancing there is a little something for everyone at this restaurant on the river.

To discover more about where to dine and shop visit   

History comes to life for upcoming Manassas Civil War Weekend


Manassas Civil War Weekend is August 21-23

There was much more to the Civil War than bloody battles, endless strategizing, and the stands of famous generals.

This year, in addition to featuring portrayals of well-known generals and studies of tactics, the fourth annual Manassas Civil War Weekend will also bring to life the experiences of women on both the home front and in the conflict.

The weekend’s free events, from August 21-23, promises to engage visitors of all ages and interests with the sights, sounds and scents of Civil War-era Manassas. Speakers and performers will reveal many stories about the stark reality of war.

The weekend begins with a keynote address by well-known Civil War re-enactor Al Stone, who has been portraying General Robert E. Lee for more than 20 years to nationwide audiences. Stone will portray Lee in his reflective post-war years, when he became president of what was then called Washington College in Lexington, Va., later renamed Washington & Lee University. His address begins on Friday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. on the Manassas Museum lawn.

Many speakers throughout the weekend will focus on the war’s military experience. Richard Killblane, the United States Army Transportation Historian and author of the war history, The Filthy Thirteen, will talk about the logistics of the war. Re-enactors will portray General William Tecumseh Sherman, General Philip T. Sheridan, General Jubal Early, General John B. Gordan, Major Jed Hotchkiss, and General Samuel Cooper. Earl McElfresh, author of Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War and cartographer and historian for the McElfresh Map Co., will speak about maps during the Civil War.

To lend a different perspective on the war experience, living historians will also portray Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse; Dorothea Dix, an American activist who created the first American mental asylums; Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidante; the wives of Generals Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Isaac Trimble; and Barbara Smith and Hendrina Appelt, who will talk about the role of women in the war.

Tracey McIntire and Dr. Audrey Scanlan-Teller will speak about the experiences of more than four hundred women who disguised themselves as men and served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. They will speak not only about individual soldiers, but about gender roles and military culture during the era.

Visit for the weekend’s latest schedule.

Marriage isn’t a give-and-take. It’s a give-and-give.

Marriage should be serious fun.

That’s the premise behind a series of classes called ‘Married People,’ hosted by Chapel Springs Church in Bristow.

The classes are hosted on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m., and are open to all married couples.

Pastor Josh and Leah Wesley both work in the ministry at Chapel Springs, and recently hosted one of the ‘Married People’ classes.

The Wesleys have been married for 15 years, after meeting through a mutual friend in ministry.

“We really became best friends and got to the point where, ‘I just don’t want to live life without you. I don’t want to experience anything about life without you by my side’ and that was it,” said Leah Wesley.

According to Pastor Josh Wesley, the classes are for all married couples who want to make their marriage better.

“We’re trying to help people – not just from the slant of ‘come fix your broken marriage’ – but also we’re being proactive in helping people continue to nurture healthy marriages. Marriage gets a lot of flack for being the ‘ball and chain.’ We really believe that marriage opens and unlocks a lot of opportunities…we’re helping people develop their relationships,” said Pastor Josh Wesley.

Here’s some advice from the Wesleys about marriage.

1. Stop comparing your marriage to other people’s marriages. The way that you have fun and enjoy your lives together is unique.

2. Develop the ability to give.

“Marriage is not a give-and-take. It’s a give-and-give. And when we both are giving equally, everybody’s being blessed,” said Pastor Josh Wesley.

3. Make the decision to put your spouse first every day, and value them.

4. Developing your imagination and creativity, and explore new ways to have fun.

“In marriage we kind of tend to get very hum drum. We tend to do the same thing over and over again. We go to work – we have responsibilities. And we forget to be creative and to spark that love and enjoyment with one another,” said Leah Wesley.

5. Know that marriage requires a lot of hard work.

6. Your marriage needs to be above all relationships, including the relationship with your children and parents.

Chapel Springs Church, with locations in Bristow and Stafford, is committed to offering marriage enrichment opportunities and helping people heal fractured marriages. Next Wednesday, July 29, concludes the “Married People” series with a session at 7:30 pm in the Bristow auditorium. All married couples are welcome to attend.

Free marriage resources.


Proposed towing fees higher in Prince William

Two truck companies could soon be allowed to charge you more to tow your car in Prince William County.

Here’s a breakdown the of newly proposed fees:

Proposed fee Current fee  
$135 $125 For vehicles with gross weight of 10,001 pounds
$250 $175 For vehicles with gross weight between 10,001 and 26,001 pounds
$475 $300 For vehicles with gross weight of 26,001 or more pounds

Tow companies would also be allowed to charge drivers an additional $25 if their car is towed between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. weekdays, on weekends, or holidays, according to the proposal.

Tow companies are not allowed to charge storage or impound fees for the first 24 hours. Companies may then charge $50 per each 24 hours thereafter. 

If the driver of a tow truck offers to release a vehicle before it is towed away, the owner of the car will have the option of paying a release fee up to $50 to have the vehicle released from the tow truck, according to the proposal.

A towing advisory board comprised of various towing companies and the Prince William County Police Department review towing fee on an annual basis.

The public hearing on the matter is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Prince William County Government Center. The new fees must be approved by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

20 orgs win Prince William County arts grants

A total of $193,000 was provided to arts groups in Prince William County. 

The grant money is built into the annual county budget, and is awarded on the recommendation of the Prince William Arts Council County Parks and Recreation Department.

Each organization submitted a grant application. About $270,000 was requested, or about 140% of the total funds available. 

Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson questioned whether or not some of the grant benefactors located in Manasssas were being funded by similar grants awarded by that city.

“I don’t have anything against these. I just want to know they’re carrying the weight themselves,” said Lawson.

Prince William County Parks and Recreation Director Debbie Andrew said Manassas does not offer the same type of arts grant as Prince William. She also told Lawson applicants must prove their arts programs regularly serve residents of Prince William County.

And the grant winners are: 

Applicant  Amount awarded
Center for the Arts $50,000
Manassas Ballet $60,000
Youth Orchestras $19,413
Woodbridge Flute $776
Cabin Branch Quilters $3,137
Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra $2,964
Castaways Repertory Theatre $2,301
Prince William Arts Society $886
Manassas Symphony  $10,695
Manassas Chorale $13,453
Woodbridge Dance $3,839
Celebration Singers $2,382
Prince William Little Theatre $5,250
Asaph Dance $5,522
New Dominion Choraliers  $3,618
Bull Run Cloggers $1,382
Woodbridge Music Club $1,211
Woodbridge Comm. Choir  $1,981
Gainesville Ballet $780
Shenandoah Sound $3,410


Meeting on July 20 to discuss the fate of Occoquan Visitor’s Center

Discover Prince William & Manassas has plans to close the Occoquan Visitor’s Center on August 2, and will be meeting to talk about it on July 20.

The organization – also known as the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau – who is responsible for tourism in the county, consider the visitor’s center to be a low return on investment, according to their Executive Director Ann Marie Maher.

“The CVB’s Visitor Center was identified as an area with a low return on investment in relation to other CVB programs,” said Maher.

Funding changes for Discover Prince William & Manassas

According to Maher, Discover Prince William & Manassas had made a fiscal year 2016 budget request for $1,346,845 but the organization only received county funding in the amount of $1,162,782.

Additionally, the organization used to receive $87,000 per year from the City of Manassas, but their funding from the city has now dropped to $65,000, according to city spokeswoman Patty Prince.

“Prior to this [year] we had given them $87,000 per year, and this year we gave them $65,000…this is 50% of our TOT (Transit Occupancy Tax) funds…what we’re asking them to do is promote us for our special events, shopping and dining in historic downtown [Manassas] and bring in bus tours. We’re asking them to more narrowly focus than they have been,” said Prince.

Prince also stated that the funds from the city had never been based on TOT funds before, and this was the cause for the shift in funding.

Occoquan district Supervisor Mike May stated that Discover Prince William & Manassas may be closing the Occoquan Visitor’s Center as a way to continue their sports marketing initiative that the county is no longer funding.

“That’s interesting because the CVB received the exact same amount of TOT revenue for operating this year that they got last year. And in the budget documents it states that operations will remain the same. Now the CVB did get a one time grant of additional TOT money to do some sports marketing initiatives, so that grant was only available in [fiscal year 2015]…what I think that the CVB has decided is the marketing initiative is valuable and they want to continue it. And in trying to find the revenue to continue it, they have tried to find reductions in other areas and one of those areas is the closure of the visitor’s center,” said May.

Elected officials, residents voice concerns on the closure

May expressed concerns about the closure of the visitor’s center.

“I am concerned about it. I think that the Occoquan Visitor’s Center is an asset to the entire county – not just the Occoquan community. I think it provides a personal touch, and it’s one of the best ways to market the community and small town image that Occoquan and some of our other small towns in Prince William present to visitors,” said May.

May stated that he had reached out to Discover Prince William & Manassas through the County Executive Melissa Peacor, to work with the organization to come up with an alternative.

“If nothing else, I think that the quick timing of the decision is problematic, because it did not give the community or the stakeholders an opportunity to thoroughly explore alternatives that we might be able to come up with. At the minimum, I would like to see the CVB keep it open for a time, so we can continue to talk through these things and see about a public-private partnership,” said May.

Maher stated that the budget for the organization, and potential cuts, had been discussed for several months.

“The [board] reviewed budget revisions presented during public meetings on February 23, March 23 and April 20 where the CVB Board discussed estimated FY16 revenues and the best use of these funds.  The CVB met with the Mayor and Town Manager of the Town of Occoquan on May 21 to discuss the visitor center closure…although there were no funds allocated to sustain the center operation in the CVB’s FY16 budget beginning July 1, a decision was made by the CVB to extend funding through August 2, 2015 in an effort to work with the town in developing a transition plan,” said Maher.

According to May, he has heard concerns from several of his constituents in Occoquan about the visitor’s center closing.

“I think people are concerned about it and from my perspective, and a lot of my constituent’s perspective, they like it…and it adds that personal touch that you don’t get from a website or a brochure…but even setting that aside, I think the bigger concern is the rapid nature of the decision, in the fact that the stakeholders were never really given a venue to express concerns and let the CVB know how important the visitor’s center is to them,” May commented.

What happens next?

The board of directors for Discover Prince William & Manassas will meet on July 20 to talk about options for the Occoquan Visitor’s Center.

“At the CVB Board of Directors regularly scheduled meeting on July 20, the CVB Board will discuss concerns posed by the Town of Occoquan, Supervisor May and others impacted by the CVB Board’s FY16 budget,” said Maher.

May stated that he would be attending the meeting, and urged residents with an opinion to go to the meeting and speak.

Celebrate America in style in Manassas July 4

Fireworks show, watermelon, and pie contests planned 

On Saturday, July 4, 2015, Celebrate America with the City of Manassas from 3 to 10 p.m. in Historic Downtown Manassas.

The celebration begins with the Bicycle Decorating contest. At 5 p.m. visitors are invited to take part in a Watermelon-eating contest.

Next, Judges from around the City will lend their culinary expertise to judge the Apple and Peach Pie Baking Contest. This is Americana at its best. To sign up for these contests, visit

Visitors can bring a blanket or a lawn chair to lay claim to a spot for viewing the best fireworks in Virginia. Beginning at 3 p.m., there will be children’s rides, food vendors, and other vendors. The celebration centers around the Harris Pavilion, the Manassas Museum and the Train Depot.

The City of Manassas loves pets, but pets do not love loud noises. Their ears are more sensitive and the City asks that pets be left at home in the air conditioning. This time of year, streets and sidewalks are hot enough to burn puppy paws.

Occoquan visitors center set to close

The Occoquan Visitors Center is set to close August 2.

The tiny office on Mill Street in Occoquan has served travelers and tourists looking to get more information on the town, and about things to see and do in surrounding Prince William County since 1999.
Budget cuts at Discover Prince William / Manassas — the county agency responsible for keeping open the center — have forced its closure.

Discover has a budget shortfall of $200,000 this year.

“Because of that, we have to make some of these tough budget decisions,” said Discover Prince William / Manassas Director Ann Marie Maher.

One part-time employee and one contracted employee are expected to lose their jobs when the center closes. Maher’s team at Discover Prince William / Manassas this year will also forgo traveling to four conferences over the next year where they would meet with group tour operators to in an effort lure business back to the county. Employee raises, and updates to the agency’s website are also on hold.

The Occoquan Visitors Center may have cost $45,000 annual to operate. That’s down from the old cost of $78,000, before the center began using volunteers as staff.

The brings in an average 20,000 visitors to the tiny town per year, according to Maher. Occoquan’s shop owners need that foot traffic. Many travelers on nearby Interstate 95 would stop in at the center to use the restroom, and would stay longer to eat or shop in Occoquan before getting back on the road, said Maher.

More than 30 shop owners came to a recent meeting of the Occoquan Town Council to protest the closing, stated Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Barr Jovanovich. She sent a letter to Prince William County Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May stating the town could not afford to absorb the operating cost of the center, and noted the center’s value to the town and region.

Former Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta was asked by a town official to consider operating sightseeing shuttle service from the visitors center to keep the doors open.

“I told them I was open to considering the idea, but that’s basically where we left things. I don’t know the current status of the town’s plans,” stated Porta.

Maher, who attended a recent Occoquan Town Council meeting, said officials discussed the possibility that Porta could run his business from the site, as well as continue to make available the many tourism brochures and handouts that are currently available in the visitors center.

A committee of Occoquan business owners, visitor center volunteers, and elected officials will provide an update to Town Council during their regular meeting on July 7, 2015 at Occoquan Town Hall.

Northern Virginia families needed for visiting French teens

Waiting for lift-off in the Virginia countryside. In three short weeks, American families and their French students can become lifelong friends.
Donatien, 16, of Versailles, enjoys swimming, tennis, reading, and video games. He has lived in India, and also studies Chinese, and is in a scientific specialization in school.
Joris, a lively and sociable-14 year old, enjoys swimming, canoeing, sailing, camping, mechanics, animals, history and plays the electric guitar.
Hugues and Sebastian prepare for a watermelon seed-spitting contest at a host family picnic last year.
LEC student Paul, left, enjoys his first American hamburger at a Virginia Red Robin restaurant.

Early July is that exciting time of year when French teenagers sponsored by LEC (Loisirs Culturels a L’Etranger, founded in 1972 and based in Paris, France) will be arriving into Dulles Airport for a fun-filled three weeks in the Northern Virginia area.

But to do so they need local families willing to open their hearts and homes now.

LEC has five students, ages 14-19, who still need welcoming homes from July 7–27. They all speak English, are fully insured, bring ample spending money, and would like to participate as a member of an American family – your family!

But what does that entail?

Our families provide room and board, of course, but even more importantly friendship and the desire to include the student in their daily activities, thus giving the student a wonderful introduction to American life.

Families will receive a weekly stipend of $125 to help cover typical hosting costs. For more information or to apply, please contact Karen Sweer, LEC General Coordinator, at 717-795-7089 or TODAY. We need Host families immediately to ensure that every student can visit the US. For more information, please see

It is always fun to observe the group of teens searching for their host families in the airport crowd. Some of the students have corresponded and ‘met’ their families in advance. They have received pictures, and have heard about some of the upcoming plans for the 20 days that they will be in the Northern Virginia area. Others will shyly meet their American families for the first time once they leave the International Arrivals area.

Either way, excitement is in store for both students and families as both share in the daily activities and traditions of the family and have fun learning about each others’ cultures.

Trips to the local swimming pool, bowling alleys, family reunions, and food stores may be just as much fun as trips to amusement parks, museums, the White House and baseball games. Even introducing your student to corn on the cob, American barbecue, or the joys of s’mores can be fun. All are new and exciting to our students! Let your imagination guide you!

Aurelie, a student from Paris who was housed in Chantilly last year, formed a strong bond with her host family who admitted that they had known little about France and had been nervous about opening their home to a student they had never met.

“We decided to go for it,” host mother Joan stated, “ and the 20 days just flew by. In the end, we wished Aurelie could have stayed much longer!”

Again, please contact Karen Sweer, LEC General Coordinator, at 717-795-7089 or TODAY. Please help so we don’t disappoint a single student! See you at Dulles on July 7!


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