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Occoquan Local

Dancers Raising Funds at Occoquan’s Rockledge Mansion

By ANGELA POUNDERS

The gracefulness of a ballet dancer gliding across the stage, the sounds of a tap dancer keeping rhythm to a song or a pair of dancers doing interpretative dance. All of these are forms of art and the Woodbridge Dance Company is committed to raising public awareness of dance as an art form and believe that the “Arts have an amazing power to inspire, unite and teach.”

The Woodbridge Dance Company is a non-profit (501c3) organization that relies extensively on their friends and patrons for support. Their mission is providing the community with awareness of dance and the performing arts, while giving young dancers the experience of performing, and gifted choreographers the means to create artistically.

One way the Woodbridge Dance Company raises money is with its annual Confections and Cocktails Masquerade Fundraiser Reception. Adults 21 years and older are invited to join and celebrate the event’s third year on Friday, November 2 from 7-10 p.m. at the historic Rockledge Mansion (circa 1758) located at 440 Mill St., Occoquan, Va 22125. Parking is a challenge in old town Occoquan, but there is ample parking at the end of the road near the Mansion.

Catherine Furr of The Woodbridge Dance Company says the Confections and Cocktails event “is an opportunity for the community to meet the directors, learn more about Woodbridge Dance Company, mingle with innovative choreographers and talented dancers.”

It is her hope that this event will raise $6,000 toward their final goal of $20,000 to support their 5th Annual “A Coffee House Concert Collection” on January 12, 2013 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

This will be a night out that you won’t soon forget. Cocktail reception attire is required; masks will be provided at the event. Enjoy the entertainment while having cocktails and eating hors’dourves.

There will also be door prizes, raffle items and a silent auction. One of the items to be auctioned is a “Wall of Wine” consisting of a variety of donated wines along with a personalized story of why the donor loves the wine contributed. The Woodbridge Dance Company feels that this item “demonstrates our Company members’ belief that enjoying the finer things in life, such as wine and dance, truly enhances our lives.” Other items to bid on will include gift certificates from various local businesses and donated baskets.

After Oct 15 through Nov 1 tickets cost $35 each, or they may be bought at the door for $45 per ticket. Tickets can be bought online at woodbridgedancecompany.com. For more information call 703-583-2623.

Twice Delayed Gas Line Relocation Starts Tonight

OCCOQUAN, Va. — Officials hope the third time is the charm for an attempt to relocate a six-inch gas line near Occoquan.

The pipe at Occoquan and Old Bridge roads needs to be moved because it’s in conflict with a sanitary line that has been designed for a new neighborhood, the Potomac Crest condominiums and townhomes. Once the line is relocated, 76 new townhomes – some of which have already been purchased – can be delivered to their new owners.

The homes sit on a hill overlooking busy commuter route Old Bridge Road, and are nestled next to existing apartments on Dara Drive. A base model new home in this development sells for $290,000 while luxury models are priced at $300,000.

But ongoing delays to relocate the gas line has cost developer Basheer and Edgemore at least $25,000, said spokesman Mark Fields

The problematic gas line, which wasn’t originally accounted for in plans for the new neighborhood, was located May 17. Shortly thereafter, Potomac Crest developers went back to their drawing board and worked up plans to reroute their  water and sewer utility lines to avoid a conflict with the gas line. But a clash between a new sanitary line and the gas line couldn’t be avoided, and that’s when Washington Gas called in a contractor to relocate the line, said Fields.

The relocation work is scheduled to begin tonight with overnight closures of a portion of Occoquan Road occurring each night this week. It’s the third time it’s been planned, with previous unmet completion dates in August and September, said Fields.

PotomacLocal.com spoke with Washington Gas on Friday to get details about what has prolonged the work but the utility was not immediately able to provide them.

Detour signs warning drivers to tonight’s detour are posted. The closures will take place from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday night through Friday morning. Drivers will be directed to use Riverview Lane to Va. 123 to Old Bridge Road.

For Art Klos at the Virginia Department of Transportation, it’s been an ever more frustrating task to communicate to elected officials and to drivers about a detour that keeps getting pushed back.

“I regret to inform you that the night work on Occoquan Road has been postponed until next week. Hazel Construction, with the support of the Police Department, is on standby ready to proceed. Unfortunately, their work continues to be delayed due to relocation of the gas main,” stated Klos in an email to public officials.

While a portion of Occoquan Road south of Old Bridge Road carries 13,000 cars per day, the portion of the road that will be detoured carries 2,000 cars per day, said Klos.

Bonfire, Ghost Stories Planned at Occoquan Regional Park

OCCOQUAN, Va. — There are burning desires to build a better regional identify for the Occoquan area and a bonfire might be the way to do just that.

As the weather gets cooler and Halloween approaches, Occoquan River Communities has invited residents to Occoquan Regional Park on the Fairfax County side of the Occoquan River for a free bonfire event where marshmallows will be roasted and ghostly tales of Occoquan’s past will be told.

Occoquan River Communities will hold the event, as the organization serves as a cheerleader for all things Occoquan. The organization entices visitors to the come to the small Town of Occoquan in Prince William County, urges them to visit the Rivergate complex in Woodbridge, and to take in the sights at the Workhouse Arts Center in Fairfax County.

The ORC group hopes this free event and others like it will draw more people to the Occoquan area.

“Our members know that each event provides them with a fun and unique opportunity to discover something that may not have known about the region, meet new people and enjoy the fellowship and sense of community that we all share,” said ORC spokeswoman Bryanna Altman.

The bonfire starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22. As the sun goes down and skies get darker, Occoquan Regional Park manager John Houser is expected to share stories about the area’s past to include tales of women suffragists who were brought to the Lorton Workhouse in the 1920s. Later, Kay Pietrewicz of Occoquan Ghost Tours will share some of her own paranormal experiences she’s had while trolling through the historic town that dates back to 1804.

About 25 to 45 people are expected to attend the event.

 

Occoquan Shops to Treat Dogs this Halloween

Elaine Carmack and her dog, Sassi, greet customers at Fetch Dog and Cat Bakery Boutique.

OCCOQUAN, Va. — Some dogs will finally get their treats this Halloween.

The Fetch Dog and Cat Bakery Boutique in Occoquan, which specializes in animal treats, will host its 15th Annual Trick or Treat for Dogs from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 28.

About 35 owners have signed up their furry friends and will take them on a leash, of course, to at least 40 businesses in Occoquan who will give the dogs treats. Fetch has provided all of the gourmet dog treats to the participating businesses ahead of time, and organizers say it’s a great way to get people out and about in the small town at Halloween.

“The owners take them to the stores and then they say ‘trick or treat,’ or if they have an exceptionally talented dog the animal can say ‘trick or treat,’ but I’ve not ever met one like that before,” joked Fetch manager Elaine Carmack.

This is the second year Trick or Treat for Dogs has been held in Occoquan. Fetch held similar events in prior years when the store was located in Old Town Alexandria.

To participate, a donation of $10 is requested from dog owners by Oct. 15. The money will go to an effort to build Prince William County’s first dog park, said Carmack.

Those interested in signing up their dog should call the store at 703-491-8686 or visiting the shop at 305 Mill Street in Occoquan.

Occoquan A ‘Prettiest Painted Town’

OCCOQUAN, Va. —  Occoquan is one of the prettiest painted places in America.

The Paint Quality Institute for the third time since the 1990s has reviewed historic downtown areas that use and ranked them on what unique paint schemes they use to express the town. The national competition is called the “Prettiest Painted Places in America,” and more than 200 historic districts, main streets, and downtowns are competing in the competition.

In a periodical newsletter to residents, Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta said he’s pleased his town was nominated. He also thanked the Prince William County tourism board, Discover Prince William and Manassas for submitting Occoquan in the competition.

“We are thrilled competition officials recognized this beautiful hidden gem along the Occoquan River,” Discover Prince William & Manassas Executive Director Ann Marie Maher said. “The merchants and residents of the community work hard to maintain their historic buildings and charm and it’s one of the reasons why thousands come to visit Occoquan annually.”

It’s a busy time for the small town along the Occoquan River in Prince William County. Occoquan last weekend welcomed thousands to one of its two annual craft fairs.

Other pretty painted town finalists include downtown Bowling Green, Ky; Gulf Shores, Ala.; Historic Oakwood in Raleigh, N.C.; Key West, Fla.; Old Louisville, Ky.; Old Town Alexandria, Va.; Paducah, Ky.; Selma (Ward 3), Ala.; and Historic Downtown Smithfield, Va.

After the first Prettiest Painted Places in America competition was held in the 1990s, another was held in 2000. This marks the third time the competition has been held.

New Rule Ensures Seized Lands Used for Public Good

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A problem in Norfolk has found a solution in Prince William County.

The county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an ordinance that will guide leaders on how eminent domain – the taking of private lands for a public purposes — is used.

Board Chairman Corey Stewart is the driving force behind the new ordinance that mandates Prince William County Government now must only take private property for uses like public roads, utilities, or buildings that “benefit the public as a whole.”

A similar proposed revision to the Virginia Constitution called the Virginia Property Rights Amendment will come before voters on Election Day Nov. 6. But, if voters do not support it statewide, Tuesday’s Board action ensures the amendment will be law in Prince William.

Stewart, who is also running for Virginia Lt. Governor, added the county is the largest jurisdiction in the state to adopt such a resolution, and acknowledged Fairfax County leaders and the Virginia Association of Counties does not support the measure.

“It’s certainly true that this Board has never abused its eminent domain authority by taking from one private land owner and given it to another in the name of economic development, however, one could argue that’s exactly what’s happening in the City of Norfolk,” said Stewart.

He’s referring to the owners of the 78-year-old Central Radio Company in Norfolk, which is being muscled out by city leaders who want to condemn the business and give the land on which it sits to Old Dominion University for future development.

So far, a case like this hasn’t appeared in Prince William County, and Transportation Director Thomas Blaser said less than one percent of eminent domain cases in Prince William have ended up in litigation.

“We have done a certificate of take literally hundreds of times…If the public purpose [of a project] was questioned, I think everybody would be more cautious about starting a project than just doing what we call a ‘quick take’ if we thought the ramifications would bigger than the risk was worth,” said Blaser.

Prince William has long funded construction of their own roads, including the widening of U.S. 1 in Triangle and the construction of Prince William Parkway.

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi was the lone dissenter on the Board Tuesday and said this decision could have a “chilling effect” on the county’s efforts to build new roads, and on future economic development.

“We should not be fixing what’s not broken. We have voted for years now…in favor of these road building projects…and I don’t know why we have to change our position today,” said Principi.

The issue may come down to a battle between the federal government and the states. According to Tuesday’s resolution, the Supreme Court upheld a decision to allow local governments to seize privately-owned land, homes, or small businesses and transfer them to a new owner for the uses of economic development.

 

Occoquan Residents Warned of Loud Noise from Dams

OCCOQUAN, Va. — Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta in an email to constituents today noted when it rains the pumps at the nearby dam could get loud. The text of his email is below:

In Occoquan we know that heavy rains sometimes mean flooding along the Occoquan River, as well as along Ballywhack, Furnace Branch, and Boundary Branch Creeks.

For the near future, however, heavy rains will likely also result in some increased noise from pumps the contractor working on the Occoquan dams will be forced to use.

With good weather, the related work should be completed within three weeks. In the meantime, the contractor is installing sound barriers to help with the pump noise and has asked that we bear with them.

 

Occoquan Merchants Association Disbands

OCCOQUAN, Va. — The Occoquan Merchants Association is no more.

The group of small business owners in Occoquan was comprised small shop owners in the tiny riverside town. The group promoted ghost tours, the town’s farmers market, the holiday tree lighting, as well as the interests of about 20 small businesses in the town.

The ghost tours, farmers market, and a printed guide to the town once produced by the OMA will continue under new management.

“In recent years, it was noticed that the general membership’s interest in the organization had decreased due to the need to focus on their personal businesses in this struggling economy, and by vote of the entire current OMA membership, on Sept. 19th it was decided the organization would fold. The current members of the OMA are positive about the transition towards a new direction in town,” the organization told PotomacLocal.com in statement.

The association also worked to inform visitors about Occoquan’s rich history, as well as a provide information on non-profit organizations in the area.

The association was made up of volunteers and had no full time support staff. 

The disbanding of the association comes as Occoquan is poised to welcome thousands to its annual fall craft fair this weekend.

“This is not a swan song for the Occoquan Merchants Association. The OMA was an integral part of the growth of this town, but like the old phrase says, ‘When one door closes, another door opens,” the OMA stated. 

 

Occoquan School Board Candidates Square Off on Funding, Teacher Pay

Jessie

By URIAH KISER

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — In a room of just over 50 voters who came to hear School Board candidates debate, by a show of hands only five of them were undecided.

Four candidates looking to become the permanent Prince William County School Board member for the Occoquan District squared off at Westminster in Lake Ridge Tuesday. They tackled topics like per-pupil funding, teacher pay and performance, and whether Prince William County Public Schools still lives up to it’s motto of a “world-class education.”

This is an unexpected election for the School Board this year, coming after former Occoquan District representative Grant Lattin abruptly resigned from his post last spring to spend more time with family.

Wooten

Dr. Michael Wooten is endorsed by the GOP and was appointed to the position shortly thereafter. Wooten touted his service as a U.S. Marine and as Vice Chairman of the Northern Virginia Community College Board, and laid out a three-point plan he said would ensure success in the county’s schools.

“I call it the iron triangle…the first leg being teacher compensation… what is that value proposition that we give to those professionals that is so important to student learning,” said Wooten.

Class size and the amount of taxes levied to fund schools make up the second and third legs of Wooten’s plan. Schools are funded with 56 percent of monies transferred from Prince William County’s overall budget. The School Board cannot levy taxes.

Bauckman-Moore

Wooten said current school funding is unsustainable, but said the School Board should not have taxing authority. More densely populated housing developments are putting more strain on local schools, and that could require the Board of Supervisors to step up funding, said Wooten.

Former elementary school principal and Democrat Lillie Jessie was the only candidate on the panel Tuesday to receive applause. When asked if Prince William County’s allotted $9,852 per student spending cap – the lowest in the region — is enough, she said principals control their school’s budget on a site-based management system, and that education is more than just money allotted to each student.

Bender

“Sometimes teacher-pupil ratio has nothing to do with the number of teachers. You could have the number of teachers and not have the [classroom space to house them] and you end up with two teachers in a room, and I’ve lived with that whole situation…moving people around to create the learning environment that we need,” said Jessie.

Jessie added while the per-student spending cap may be low in Prince William, the jurisdiction outperforms some of the other better funded counties in the region.

Business owner and Prince William schools employee Lori Bauckman-Moore said she’s running, in part, to better equip classrooms with the materials they need. She likened the school system’s expansive headquarters, the Kelly Leadership Center near Manassas, to the Taj Mahal.

“I go to an open house and I hear a teacher say that a child cannot check out a school book to do homework because she only has one book for the entire classroom, or I go and I hear a teacher say there’s not enough money to put her SmartBoard on the wall. Those are little budget things but they’re perceptions…perception is everything… I would like to see some money going back to the classroom,” said Bauckman-Moore.

When it comes to pay, Virginia teachers cannot strike as Chicago Public School employees did earlier this month. Jessie doesn’t agree with a state mandate tying 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to student performance, and said he would opt to give teachers raises rather than taking a wait and see approach.

Candidate Stanley Bender said more vocational and arts education is needed in the schools, and, in response to the school system blocking LGBT content from computers in 2011, he said students are very savvy when it comes to accessing information online, but they should not access this type of information at school.

Jessie agreed.

“We need to realize that we are in America and that there is gay and lesbian behavior. There is heterosexual behavior [on the web] they shouldn’t have access to,” said Jessie.

The candidates also addressed students leaving Prince William to attend Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology – a STEM program ranked number two in the country by U.S. News and World Report, behind New Jersey’s High Technology High School.

“It’s very difficult to tell a parent to go to in Prince William when you have a school down the road that is the best in the nation …[Prince William County Public Schools] are ranked as one of the best school systems in the nation… we need to create opportunities for students to participate in higher level thinking,” said Jessie.

Prince William Using Risk Scores to Determine Budget

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Prince William County will bring back a numbers system to decide funding priorities for the fiscal 2014 budget.

Michelle Casciato with the county’s Office of Management and Budget told officials Tuesday her office use will a risk assessment system that will examine what programs and agencies are being funding now, how they relate to the core function of local government, and then assign each scores between four and 20.

An evaluation scale will be used to score what’s already being funded in the county’s $2.4 billion budget, examining its risk to the community, risks to individuals, financial and legal risks, and whether or not what’s being funded is essential to the mission of local government, according to documents presented Tuesday to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Each agency or program’s risk score is expected to be shown at the next meeting of the Supervisors on Oct. 2. The report will also show the probable community impacts on agencies or programs if, for example, the county’s 1.209 percent tax rate is reduced, or if Supervisors decide to no longer fund a program, said Casciato.

According to Casciato’s examples of programs currently funded by the county government, the Child Protective Services program scored an overall 19 because individuals aided by the program are considered to be at risk. There are also large public safety risks to the community and legal risks to the county if the program went underfunded, added Casciato.

In contrast, Prince William’s Bluebird Senior’s Bus program, which officials said costs taxpayers about $30,000 annually, scored a four because of it’s low financial risk (county officials said the program is paid for mostly by user fees) and because it’s not essential to the core function of local government.

The risk assessment score was developed in 2009 and used for the implementation of the 2010 fiscal year budget. It was not used in the implementation of the 2011 or 2012 budget processes, but officials once more want it to be included in the budgetary process.

Prince William County operates on a $2.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 with an effective property tax rate of 1.209 percent. The annual tax bill for residents is expected to remain flat over the next five years, but is expected to be adjusted for inflation by four percent each year.

Casciato points out if property assessments rise in Prince William, the county’s tax rate can be lowered so Prince William collects the same amount of projected revenue over the next five years.

Officials at today’s Board meeting said it was unusual to begin talking about the next year’s budget process so soon, adding many Supervisors do not form their budget committees don’t form until December. 

Occoquan Craft Fair This Weekend

OCCOQUAN, Va. — It is craft time in Occoquan once more as the town prepares to hold its annual Fall Craft Show.

The show will take place along the small riverside town’s Mill, Union, and Washington streets from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The event will attract local merchants, crafters, and live music, according to organizers.

Parking is limited, and once again this year shuttle buses will ferry craft fair attendees to and from the town and nearby commuter parking lots. Riders will pay $4 for round-trip ride, and they will be able to catch buses from the following lots:

Vulcan Quarry parking lot

Gordon & Old Bridge roads commuter parking lot

Tackett’s Mill commuter parking lot

Interstate 95 commuter lot

 

All-Clear Given After Report of Quantico Gunman

QUANTICO, Va. — Officials at Quantico Maine Corps Base gave the all-clear late Thursday night after someone claimed to have spotted a man with a gun on base.

The reported gunman was said to be near the child development center on base. Marines were sent to check out the situation and the child development center, and Quantico Middle/High School was placed on lockdown, according to a Quantico spokesman.

Marines at 7 p.m. confirmed there was no gunman in the area, and the lockdown on the educational centers was lifted and children inside were allowed to return home.

 

Woodbridge Towers Plan on Chopping Block

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The plan to build two towers at the entrance of Prince William County might change.

Approved in 2005, the planned Rivergate complex on Annapolis Way in Woodbridge included two 15-story towers overlooking the Occoquan River. Inside was going to be 720 condominium homes, and the buildings were going to be a keystone in an effort to revitalize the area near the heavily used commuter routes U.S. 1 and Va. 123.

But now things have changed. The developer of the project, which is also behind the famed Watergate Hotel in Washington, now wants to scale back and build five apartment buildings instead. These buildings would range between four to five stories tall, a stark contrast to the original plan.

“So they’re more like garden-style apartments, where the towers were going to be condos,” said Prince William County Planning Manager Deborah Bruckman.

The newly proposed apartments would bring just 387 new homes to the area. Market conditions prompted the developer’s change in plans. 

The proposal is under review and is awaiting a public hearing. Afterward, the plan is expected to go before the Board of County Supervisors next spring, said Bruckman.

The towers are a component in an overall broader effort to revitalize the U.S. 1 corridor in Woodbridge. When fervor for the towers was high in 2005, many said the new buildings would give commuters coming south from Fairfax County a new impression of Prince William’s growth and place on the regional stage.

Though the tower plan could change, revitalization is underway. Marumsco Plaza — once a major shopping destination prior to explosive growth around Potomac Mills mall in the late 1980s and the 1990s, is well underway with new tenants lined up for the changing shopping plaza.

Plans for a new housing development, Potomac Shores, are also ramping up, and the development is to include a new Jack Nicklaus golf course. Planners are soon expected to hold a private briefing with the Southbridge Home Owners Association — the neighborhood adjacent to the planned community, said HOA President Jim Riley. 

Transit Partners Funding New Vanpool Program

By LAURA CIRILLO

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — For the first time, regional transit agencies are partnering to bring more vanpool options to the region.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission (PRTC), George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) are all working together to create a new vanpool service that will begin in January.

PRTC chief Alfred Harf said the three organizations have drawn inspiration from similar programs in other metro areas, while at the same time, recognizing the unique regional attributes of vanpooling.

The program envisions each vanpool owner or operator being paid $200 per month as consideration for providing statistical information from their riders. PRTC will collect the information and then submit it to the Federal Transit Administration as part of a National Transit Database.

The information will be used to determine how much federal funding the region will get to maintain and grow the vanpool program.

The $3.2 million program was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in July, and it will fund all but $1.6 million of the total cost. The remaining $1.6 million will be supplemented through a two-and-a-half year loan from PRTC and NVTC, which will be used to fund the program through its initial phases until federal funding kicks in.

The vanpool incentive program aims to not only introduce new vanpools, but also to encourage existing vanpoolers to become program participants, said Harf. Currently, there are over 800 existing vanpools in the region, and it is estimated that half of them will opt into the new program. PRTC estimates the program will grow up to 10 percent per year.

Once the program kicks off, commuters will have the ability to sign up for vanpools online.

Like slugging, the informal carpooling system that exists almost exclusively in and Northern Virginia, vanpooling has grown in the region with little government involvement, though many area vanpoolers receive the same employer-sponsored commuter monetary benefits that other transit riders who use buses or trains.

Though both PRTC and GWRC have a long history of providing vanpool services and has helped to start-up and sustain vanpools, this new Vanpool Incentive Program marks the first time that PRTC will manage such a large effort.

In other metro areas, most vanpools are largely publicly-owned or publicly-leased vans, which vanpoolers use at below-market rates, subsidized by the public agencies that run the programs to increase vanpool usage, according to Harf.

Driver Killed on I-95

Traffic is reduced down to two lanes on Interstate 95 north at mile marker 162 after a pedestrian was struck and killed.

UPDATE Monday, Aug. 20

Clarence E. Alston, 42, of Washington, D.C., was standing outside his car that was stopped on the right shoulder of northbound I-95 at the 162 mile marker. A northbound Hyundai Santa Fe struck Alston. The Hyundai then fled the scene. The vehicle and its driver, Carol Rood-Johnson, 19, of Woodbridge, Va., were located later Saturday morning in Prince Georges County, Md.

-Press release

UPDATE Saturday noon

Charges are filed against a 19-year-old woman from Woodbridge in the hit and run death of a driver on Interstate 95 early this morning. More from the Virginia State Police: 

All northbound lanes were re-opened by 9:15 a.m. Saturday
 
Virginia State Police have charged Carol Rood-Johnson, 19, of Woodbridge, Va.,with DUI. Additional charges are pending at this time. State police have determined that Rood-Johnson was driving the Hyundai Santa Fe that struck a man who was standing next to his vehicle on the right shoulder of I-95 at the 162 mile marker in Fairfax County early Saturday morning. The man died at the scene. The Hyundai fled the scene. Through the course of the investigation, State Police were able to locate the Hyundai in Prince Georges County, Md. later Saturday morning.
 
Rood-Johnson has been taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
 
The Office fo the Medical Examiner is still in the process of making a positive identification of the deceased male victim.

ORIGINAL POST 9 a.m. 

LORTON, Va. — A pedestrian was killed this morning on Interstate 95 and police are now investigating the incident.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of I-95 north just south of Lorton, and the male driver stepped outside of their vehicle was struck and killed by a passing car. That car fled the scene, and now an accident reconstruction team is on the scene.

Traffic delays are the busy highway have mounted following the incident, A five-mile back up extends from the crash scene south into Prince William County. The right lane and shoulder have been closed for the investigation, but they should be reopening soon, said Geller.s

Here’s more from a Virginia State Police press release: 

Just before midnight, a vehicle had pulled off onto the right shoulder of I-95 at the 162 mile marker in Fairfax County. The male driver was standing next the vehicle when a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV struck the man and then fled the scene at 12:02 a.m. The man died at the scene. The hit-and-run vehicle was recovered later Saturday morning in Maryland and Virginia State Police are in the process of interviewing its female driver. Charges are pending.

The man’s body was transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for positive identification. (Once positive identification is made and next of kin is notified, we will release his name).

The northbound lanes of I-95 remain closed at this time, as clean up from the incident continues. I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as the NB lanes are re-opened.

 

Trees Fall, HOV Lanes Narrowing

TRIANGLE, Va. — The work to expand commuting options and add toll lanes to Interstate 95 is underway.

Trees are already falling in the Triangle area where the High Occupancy Toll lanes are being extended nine miles south from Dumfries to Va. 610 in Stafford County.

From North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, the new lanes will be a part of what will be 29 miles of the new 95 Express Lanes that will allow drivers to pay a toll to avoid traffic or continue to ride free in vehicles of three or more.

One hundred acres of trees will fall to make way for the project. Fluor-Transurban, the private operators of the lanes, said they are replacing the trees by planting 1,000 new trees in 1,000 days. The first tree was planted at a highway rest stop in Dale City after the groundbreaking of the 95 Express Lanes Project.

The express lanes are also known as High Occupancy Toll, or HOT lanes, and construction will bring some changes to drivers’ commutes. The HOV lanes north of Prince William Parkway will be completely realigned, narrowed, traffic shifted slightly to the right, and concrete barriers erected to allow crews work in the shoulder.

Older barriers that separate the HOV lanes from the travel lanes of I-95 will be replaced, new signage installed, and new drains put in during the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. during construction, according to a newsletter from Prince William Coles District Supervisor Mary Nohe.

The $1 billion project is expected to be complete in 2014 and employ 500 construction workers. The lanes will link with the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway which are slated to open later this year.

Crime Watch: 4 Charged in Shooting

FROM POLICE REPORTS: 

Shooting Investigation – On August 10th at 5:53PM, police responded to the 16800 block of Taconic Cir in Dumfries (22026) for a shooting. The investigation revealed that the victims, a 19 year old man and a 16 year old male juvenile – both of Dumfries, had planned to meet up with a known acquaintance behind the Fortuna Center Plaza. There, the 16 year old victim got into a vehicle occupied by KELLEY and BRYANT. Once inside, KELLEY displayed a handgun and attempted to rob the victim. The 16 year old victim was able to get out of the vehicle, at which point both victims fled towards Stockbridge Dr. On Stockbridge Dr, the victims encountered a second vehicle, occupied byHALE and JACKSON, who were accomplices of KELLEY and BRYANT. During that encounter,JACKSON pointed a shotgun at the victims and fired, striking the 19 year old in the back and the 16 year old in the torso. Both victims were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Several detectives were assigned to this case and were quickly able to develop the identities of those involved. HALE and BRYANT were located leaving BRYANT’s address on Brightleaf Ct and were detained following a traffic stop. JACKSON and KELLEY were both located at their respective residences where search warrants were also executed. Following an investigation, all four suspects were arrested in regard this incident which was not random.

Arrested:

Tyliek Eric KELLEY, 19, of 12810 Island House Lp in Woodbridge

Julian Xavier BRYANT, 19, of 4931 Brightleaf Ct in Woodbridge

Quientine Kyone HALE, 20, of 5924 Talmadge Dr in Woodbridge

Taymel Jerome JACKSON, 20, of 3210 Berlin Ct #103 in Woodbridge

All were charged with 2 counts of aggravated malicious wounding, 2 counts of using a firearm in commission of a felony, 2 counts of attempted armed robbery and 2 counts of conspiracy to commit robbery

Court date for all is set for October 3, 2012, all were held WITHOUT bond

Sexual Assault – On August 13th at 5:05PM, police responded to Potomac Mills Mall located at 2700 Potomac Mills Cir in Woodbridge (22192) for an assault. The victim, a 44 year old woman of North Carolina, reported to police that while in the mall she was grabbed inappropriately by an unknown man. After being grabbed, the victim confronted the man who then fled the area on foot. No injuries were reported.

Lookout:

Black male, between 25 & 35 years of age, 5’9” / 200lbs, heavy build, bald with brown eyes

Last seen wearing glasses, a black shirt and jeans

Abduction / Domestic Assault and Battery – On August 10th at 9:24PM, police responded to the 3500 block of Melrose Ave in Triangle (22172) for a domestic. The victim, a 20 year old female of Triangle, reported that she and the accused, a known acquaintance, were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter the accused physically assaulted the victim multiple times. At one point, the accused also physically prevented her from leaving the residence and threatened to blow up the house. Minor injuries were reported. The accused was arrested without further incident.

Arrested:

Matthew Cheston BYRD, 22, of the 3500 block of Melrose Ave in Triangle

Charged with abduction, threats to bomb and domestic assault & battery

Court date unavailable, held WITHOUT bond

Reckless Handling of a Firearm – On August 11th at 2:51AM, police responded to the 19100 block of Perry St in Triangle (22172) for a domestic. The victim, a 44 year old man of Triangle, reported to police that he was involved in an argument with the accused, a known acquaintance. During the encounter, the accused allegedly grabbed a firearm and fired a round into the ceiling. No injuries were reported. The accused was subsequently arrested without incident.

Arrested:

Caimen Ray Nelson FANCHER, 18, of 19114 Perry St in Triangle

Charged with reckless handling of a firearm

Court date unavailable, held on a $2,000 secured bond

Home Invasion / Armed Robbery – On August 11th at 3:54PM, police responded to the 3600 block of Wharf Ln in Dumfries (22026) for a home invasion. The homeowner and several other occupants present at the time, reported to police that 3 unknown men, one armed with a handgun and another armed with a shotgun, had entered the residence through an unlocked door. Once inside, the men took an undisclosed amount of U.S. Currency from several occupants before fleeing on foot. No injuries were reported. This incident does not appear to be random.

Lookout:

3 black males, unknown ages, thin build

All were last seen wearing white shirts, dark pants and masks

Peeping / Suspicious Person – On August 10th at 6:06AM, police responded to the 14200 block of Mount Pleasant Dr in Woodbridge (22191) for a suspicious person. The homeowner reported to police that she was in her kitchen when she observed an unknown man looking in at her through a rear door. Upon being noticed by the homeowner, the man fled the area. No entry was made into the residence.

Lookout:

Hispanic male, between 40 & 45 years of age, 5’7” / 140lbs, medium build with thick black hair and a mustache

Last seen wearing a white shirt sleeve shirt – no further description

Commercial Burglary – On August 11th at 1:32AM, police responded to the Dollar 99 Dry Cleaning located at 13342 Minnieville Rd in Woodbridge (22193) for a burglary. Employees reported to police that the burglary occurred at 11:41PM on August 10th. There were no signs of forced entry into the business. Entry appears to have been made through the rear door. No items were reported missing.

Residential Burglary – On August 10th at 7:34PM, police responded to the 4100 block of Granby Rd in Woodbridge (22193) for a burglary. Homeowner reported to police that the burglary occurred between 8:15AM and 7:15PM. There were no signs of forced entry into the business. Entry appears to have been made through an unsecured side door. No items were reported missing.

Attempted Residential Burglary – On August 12th at 1:44AM, police responded to the 15200 block of Lakewood Dr in Woodbridge (22192) for an attempted burglary. Homeowner reported to police that between 7:00PM on July 26th and 6:00PM on August 7th, an unknown person(s) attempted to pry open 2 side doors. No entry is believed to have been made and no items were reported missing.

HOV Lanes Closing Nightly This Week

The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the I-95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes from Dumfries Road, Exit 152 to Duke Street, Exit 3, Monday-Thursday nights, August 13-16, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Friday morning and again on Friday night, August 17, 11 p.m. to 9 a.m., Saturday morning, August 18 for paving, lane markings, barrier placement, and other related construction work on the new 95 Express Lanes project.

During night work hours, motorists will be able to access the I-395 HOV lanes north to Washington, D.C. at Seminary Road and Shirlington.

HOV lanes will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday August 18, heading north toward Washington, D.C.

Visit VAmegaprojects.com for all closures and to sign-up for alerts.

-Press release 

Group Addressed Multiple Tenants at Single Homes

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – On Saturday, August 4, Delegate Rich Anderson (R-Prince William) hosted a 51st House District Town Hall in a packed conference room at the McCoart Government Complex Building in response to citizen concerns over neighborhood issues in Prince William County. Also in attendance were Occoquan District Supervisor Michael C. May, staff representatives of other county supervisors, and key members of the county staff.

Some three dozen people crowded into a packed meeting room to express their concerns in a community discussion on how to make Prince William County a better place in which to live, work, and raise a family. During the meeting, residents of Woodbridge, Dale City, Occoquan, Lake Ridge, and Manassas engaged in the discussion on neighborhood issues, and Anderson pledged to continue the community conversation in a series of additional meetings.

The purpose of the get-together was to determine if local county ordinances are sufficient to address neighborhood challenges, or if additional authority is needed from the Commonwealth of Virginia to permit Prince William County officials to assist neighborhoods to a greater degree. Before the meeting, citizens were asked to put their neighborhood concerns in writing in order to better shape the discussion at the meeting. Many of these concerns centered around residential overcrowding, parking of vehicles in unauthorized locations, and operation of businesses in areas zoned for residential properties. A list of citizen questions and concerns can be found at the Neabsco Action Alliance website.

On hand to help from Prince William County staff were John E. Settlemeyer of the county’s Property Code Enforcement Branch and Robert P. Skoff of the County Attorney’s Office. Settlemeyer and Skoff are recognized experts in county ordinances and neighborhood code enforcement. Connie Moser, President of the Neabsco Action Alliance organization and Virginia’s “State Neighborhood Advocate of the Year” in 2011, helped to facilitate the meeting.

The first discussion item focused on the number of persons residing in a single-family home. Citizens from all parts of Prince William County—east, west, and mid-county—agreed that multiple tenants in a single family residence was problematic. Assistant County Attorney Skoff explained limitations of county ordinances regarding the number of permissible tenants and difficulties in the legal definition of the term “family.” After considerable discussion, the group refocused its attention from the issue of the number of occupants living in a particular dwelling to the challenges created by a large number of vehicles, trash receptacles, noise, and infringement on the neighborhood experienced by residents.

The group then turned its attention to a discussion of work vehicles parked in residential areas overnight, including the operation of businesses in residential neighborhoods. Because of the extensive nature of the neighborhood issues identified in Saturday’s meeting, Anderson offered to host additional meetings to permit the group to craft proposed solutions and to bring in additional participants from the community. Anderson concluded the meeting with assurances that he is “willing to do anything necessary to help residents feel comfortable in their neighborhoods and rebuild lost property values.”

Moser invited residents to attend monthly Neighborhood Leaders Group meetings to work with long-time neighborhood advocates on finding common-sense solutions to local neighborhood challenges. Details are on the Prince William County website.

Anderson concluded the meeting by giving his contact information to attendees and encouraged them to contact him or his legislative assistant, Ryan M. Galloway, at any time. His email address is DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov and Mr. Galloway’s address is RGalloway@house.virginia.gov. The 51st legislative district office telephone number is 571-264-9983. Citizens with urgent needs that cannot wait until the next business day may also call Del. Anderson’s Woodbridge home at 703-730-1380.

-Press release 

Occoquan Bridge Built with Defective Grout

OCCOQUAN, Va. — A bridge that carries commuters over the Occoquan River is one of two in the area constructed with defective grout.

The Occoquan River Bridge and Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which carries east coast traffic on I-95 over the Potomac River, were identified as two of at least 34 bridges constructed with grout contaminated with chloride making it prone to rust. The grout was manufactured in Ohio between 2002 and 2010, according to the Baltimore Sun which first broke the story.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris said the grout does not pose and immediate safety threat, and said VDOT will continue to monitor and check the bridges for signs of rust or cracking — neither of which has been found on the Occoquan or Wilson bridges.

The Occoquan River Bridge, often referred to as the Route 123 Bridge, was completed in 2007. The new bridge was built to accommodate six lanes of traffic, and was constructed 44 feet higher to allow for taller sailboats to pass underneath.

The new Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River in Alexandria opened the following year.

 

Pools are Few for Area Swim Teams

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — After it appeared the Lake Ridge Lancers Swim Team was going to lose their home of 40 years, the team knew they had some decisions to make.

Last week, the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club decided to not invite the Lancers back for the 2013 season, citing the team had grown too large to use their facility. But with few available swimming facilities in the area, the Lancers may still need to use the pool they’ve called home since 1972.

The swim team Board met Monday with the governing Board of the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club, and the Lancers – after the swim club’s unexpected decision drew ire from the community – were ultimately invited back next year.

Lancer team vice president Lori McDonald said a moderator was brought in to keep the meeting cordial.

“[The Lake Ridge Swim Club] decided that we could come back next year. Last Friday we got an email, saying they reconsidered and we have been invited back. What we have agreed to, based on that email, was to enter into negotiations with them,” McDonald said.

Negotiations between the team and swim club are ongoing, but no final decision has been made as to whether the team will return to the club next year. Many expressed their frustration about the lack of communication between the team and the swim club Board. A final decision could be months away.

“I think we’re not ready to burn any bridges yet and we’re investigating all of our options and one of those options includes returning to the Lake Ridge Swim Club, but it’s not the only option that we’re investigating at this time,” said McDonald.

But if terms cannot be agreed upon, where will the team go? Parents of swim team members say having enough places to swim has been a long-time issue in Prince William County. It’s a problem parks and recreation officials are all too familiar with.

“We have a lot of people that want to swim – and not enough swim lanes, basically,” said Prince William County Parks Department spokeswoman Dianne Cabot.

In 2006, the county took out bonds to pay for the addition of four new swim lanes at the Chinn Aquatics Center in Lake Ridge. But the economy tanked and the project was put on hold.

“There is a need for this but it’s not in the plans, there’s no money for it; to build any more facilities. It’s a very timely question – the problem is that it takes a lot of money to build a community center or recreation center,” Cabot said.

It could take anywhere from 10 to 12 years before county residents begin to see more public swimming pools built, she added.

That comes as more than 4,000 participants in the Prince William County Swim League, which includes the Lancers team, had just three to four viable facilities for them to use this year, according to Cabot: Veterans Park and Hammill Mill pools in Woodbridge, Graham Park Pool in Dumfries, and Birchdale Pool in Dale City.

The shortage of swim lanes in Virginia’s Potomac Communities is being addressed Stafford County, where a new aquatic center will be constructed off Va. 610. A need for pool facilities, much like the need in Prince William County, prompted this new facility in North Stafford.

According to the Stafford County Parks and Recreation office, this new aquatic center will take some much needed pressure off of the local public pool facilities in Stafford.

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