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Stafford Hospital turns 9 today

Stafford Hospital is excited to announce it is celebrating its ninth birthday on Tuesday, February 27.

Since its grand opening, Stafford Hospital has been committed to providing quality healthcare and services to our patients. In nine years, we have delivered over 6,000 babies and cared for over 290,000 people in our Emergency Department as well as 50,000 inpatients.

We are proud to provide great benefits to our patients by offering the latest technology, including new Philips Ingenuity CT scanners, being one of ten Virginia hospitals designated as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG) by the Surgical Review Corporation, and helping to establish Stafford County as a PulsePoint connected community. 

We are honored to be entrusted with the care of the community that has helped us become who we are today. We look forward to many more years of supporting health and wellness.

Two lottery winners from Stafford will be unveiled Tuesday in Woodbridge

From a press release: 

If you had a Virginia Lottery ticket worth $1 million, would you wait nearly two months before claiming the prize?

That’s what’s happened with a Virginia’s New Year’s Millionaire Raffle ticket that was bought in Stafford. Now two people from Stafford who played together and are splitting the million-dollar prize are ready to come forward.

The Virginia Lottery will present the winners with the big check tomorrow (Tuesday) at 12:00 noon. It will be at the Lottery’s Northern Virginia Customer Service Center in Woodbridge.  We hope to see you there.

> What: Virginia Lottery $1 million winner

> When: Tuesday, February 27, 12:00 noon

> Where: Virginia Lottery, 14550 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge

Updated: 11-year-old charged after Covington-Harper Elementary School bomb threat

*INCIDENT: Officers are investigating a bomb threat at Covington-Harper ES in Dumfries. The message was discovered in a bathroom. Students, faculty, and staff were evacuated from the building as a precaution. Police K-9s are on scene conducting a check of the school. pic.twitter.com/xht7kvbB86

— Prince William PD (@PWCPolice) February 26, 2018

Covington-Harper Elementary School students and staff are safe. Students will dismiss at regular time. Dismissal will take place at the entrance of the school grounds instead of the traffic circle.

— PWCS (@PWCSNews) February 26, 2018

Students & staff at Covington-Harper Elementary School are currently evacuated as a precaution due to a possible written threat. All are safe. Emergency crews responding. Please stay tuned for updates.

— PWCS (@PWCSNews) February 26, 2018

Updated Feb. 27

From Prince William police:

Threats to Bomb on School Grounds – On February 26 at 2:00PM, officers responded to the Covington-Harper Elementary School located at 2500 River Heritage Blvd in Dumfries (22026) to investigate a bomb threat. School staff reported to police that a note threatening to bomb the school was found written in a bathroom stall around 1:50PM. Students, faculty, and staff were immediately evacuated from the building as a precaution. After a search of the property and surrounding area with the assistance of police K-9 units from Prince William Police and Virginia State Police, officers determined that the threat was not credible. Upon further investigation today, a School Resource Officer identified the suspect involved as an 11-year-old male student. Following the investigation, the officer obtained a petition for the student who was served and released back to the custody of a family member. Charged on February 27: An 11-year-old male of Woodbridge Charged with knowingly communicating a false threat to bomb Court Date: Pending | Status: Released to the custody of a family member

‘Cold toes and cool costumes’ help to raise $90,000 for Special Olympics

From a press release:

It was cold toes and cool costumes along the shore this weekend as 250 plungers brrraved the Potomac at the 2018 Polar Plunge® Festival at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse in Dumfries.  In addition to their chilly dip, plungers also celebrated a cool $90,000 raised for Special Olympics and its 21,000+ athletes across the Commonwealth.

“No longer is it enough to provide a place for people of all abilities to come together through sport. It is time to demand uncompromising inclusion— in school, employment, healthcare and social activities like the Polar Plunge Fest,” said Rick Jeffrey, Special Olympics Virginia President.  “For our inclusion revolution to succeed, we need more rebels, heroes and fighters just like the participants who helped us raise $90,000 this weekend.”

 Special thanks to the many groups who teamed up for the coolest event of 2018:

  • The Top Team fundraising award goes to the Area 14 Dunkin’ Dynamo (from Loudoun) who raised more tha $20,000
  • Joy Cavangara, a Special Olympics Virginia coach, raised $10,106 and claimed the top individual fundraising prize

The Northern Virginia Plunge is presented by the Prince William County Police Department, Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse and the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Virginia.

This event is one of four Polar Plunge® Festivals in Virginia. In addition to the Virginia Beach event, which took place Feb. 2-3 and raised nearly $1.2 million, a plunge also took place in the New River Valley Feb 24, and our first Solar Plunge is set for June 9 in Richmond during our largest annual competition, Summer Games.  

Frank Odonkor is one of the handfuls of homeless to be evicted Thursday. Things look bleak for those trying to help.

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Want to talk to the Prince William police chief? Here’s your chance.

A public service announcement from the Prince William police:

Chief Barry Barnard of the Prince William County Police Department will host a “Conversation with the Chief” on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Potomac View Elementary School located at 14601 Lamar Road in Woodbridge beginning at 7:00PM. We would like to extend an invitation to those who live in the community and the surrounding area to come out, meet the Chief, and engage in conversation. Chief Barnard will personally answer questions and discuss any topics of concern from residents. This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to get to know their Police Department and ask questions directly to the Chief and other police staff. Members from the Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit and recruiters will also be on hand to answer questions and provide useful information regarding safety tips, neighborhood watches, and recruitment. The Chief plans to hold additional community engagement conversations at other locations across Prince William County this year. We look forward to seeing you and having a productive discussion.

U.S. Marshals Task Force arrests attempted armed robbery suspect

From the Prince William police report:

Malicious Wounding | Attempted Armed Robbery *ARREST – On February 23, members of the U.S. Marshals Task Force arrested Christopher John COWARD at a residence in Fairfax. The accused was wanted for multiple charges related to an attempted armed robbery in the 1600 block of Florida Ave in Woodbridge on September 5.

    Arrested February 23:

Christopher John COWARD, 38, of no fixed address

Charged with malicious wounding, attempted robbery, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a stolen firearm and brandishing

Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

Malicious Wounding | Attempted Armed Robbery [Previously Released] – On September 6 at 9:21PM, officers responded to investigate an attempted robbery which was reported to have occurred in the 1600 block of Florida Ave in Woodbridge (22191) on September 5 around 5:30AM. The investigation revealed the victim, an adult male, was in the above area when he was approached by a masked man. During the encounter, the suspect brandished a handgun, pointed it at the victim and then struck the victim in the face. A struggle then ensued between the two men. The victim was able to disarm and unmask the suspect who was identified as someone known to him. The suspect then fled the area in an unknown vehicle. No property was taken. Minor injuries were reported. This incident was not immediately reported to police. The gun was turned over to officers and determined to have been reported stolen from Prince William County in 2015. Following the investigation, officers obtained multiple felony warrants for the suspect, identified as Christopher John COWARD.

Four 15-minute activities to do with the senior in your life

If you are a caregiver, this might sound familiar. You want to do meaningful activities with the senior in your life, but things get in the way. You get tired, or you don’t know if the senior in your care will like your suggestions. But seniors, like anyone else, sometimes need ideas or encouragement to take part in activities. The key is to get to know your senior and then simplify the process. You can opt for short activities that are meaningful but also support your senior’s cognitive and physical health. Here are some options for 15-minute activities designed to enhance quality of life.

Conversation – This might sound overly simplistic, but a directed conversation goes a long way towards increasing quality of life. Start by choosing a topic that you think would interest the senior in your care. Consider how you relate to that topic and start a conversation by relaying your experiences. Then ask open-ended questions (as opposed to questions that can be answered with yes or no). For example, if your senior enjoys history of their generation, talk about a show you saw on a particular event. Encourage your senior to explain more about it and get them to describe what it was like to experience that time period. Be curious and ask for details and clarification. It might be slow going, especially if the senior in your care is quiet, but take your time, listen closely and exhibit genuine interest. If it goes off track, no worries. In fifteen minutes, you have strengthened your senior’s communication, verbal and memory skills, as well as provided an opportunity for them to feel valued and respected.

Sketching – You don’t have to be an artist to sketch with the senior in your life. Grab two pencils and two pieces of paper. Play a game. Look at the same object and sketch it. Then have fun comparing the sketches. Or use a photo as inspiration. Not artistically inclined? Do some doodling. It’s a great way to enhance small motor skills and muscles without getting too sore. If arthritis is an issue, there may be ways to adapt this activity. Opt for large, simple objects to draw, bigger pieces of paper and easy-to-hold tools.

Reciting – Song lyrics, poems, stories…these are all great things to recite. As we get older, word recall is especially difficult. For some people, it becomes so difficult and such an embarrassment, they stop talking. Reciting brings words back into everyday vocabulary and serves as an easy mechanism to help seniors remember phrases and ideas that can later be worked into conversation. Don’t worry if your senior can’t remember all the words. Start with something easy. Help them fill in the blanks when needed.

Singing – Not only does song sooth the soul, it’s a great way to exercise the vocal cords, bring back memories of a different time, practice word recall and create a bond. Even if you don’t know all the words, hum along. Or ask the senior in your life to teach you the song. Out of tune? No worries. This is not a concert. It’s fifteen minutes of fun.

These are just some of the activities you can do with the senior in your life to turn your time together into memorable, meaningful experiences. Not everything will appeal to everyone, and not everyone will be able to do everything. The key is to learn about the senior in your life – their likes and dislikes – and introduce things to do that you might not normally. See what works, and enjoy the process together.

In Part II, we’ll talk about four more activities you can enjoy with the senior in your life. Stay tuned.

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

Updated: Suspect shot by federal officer outside Dumfires motel dies

4:30 p.m.

Law Enforcement Involved Shooting *UPDATE – The suspect shot by a member of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task earlier this morning, February 23, has died. The suspect involved, identified as Mario Dantoni BASS, 37, was sought by Prince William County police on 11 active warrants, most recently in connection to a domestic-related abduction that was reported to police by the victim on February 15. Additional warrants for this suspect, including felony grand larceny auto, identity theft, and various traffic violations, date as far back as September 2015.

Today, the Task Force attempted to locate the suspect after information was received that lead to the Days Inn in Dumfries where the suspect was allegedly staying. Upon making contact at the room, the suspect broke through an upper floor window and fled before encountering a member of the Task Force at the rear of the hotel. During a physical altercation, the suspect was shot in the upper body. No other injuries were reported.

The member of the Task Force involved in the shooting was identified as a federal officer with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Prince William County police remain the lead agency investigating the shooting. Upon completion of the investigation, detectives will review the findings with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office who then make a determination regarding criminal liability.

11:37 a.m. 

From Prince William police: 

Law Enforcement Involved Shooting – On February 23 at approximately 9:00AM, members of the U.S. Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force were at the Days Inn located at 16925 Old Stage Rd in Dumfries (22025) attempting to serve multiple arrest warrants from Prince William County on an individual believed to be staying inside one of the rooms. As the Task Force was attempting to make entry into the room, the suspect, identified as an adult male, fled out of a window. As the suspect fled, he confronted a member of the Task Force leading to a physical altercation. During the encounter, the Task Force member shot the suspect. The scene was immediately contained by responding officers. The suspect was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. No law enforcement officers or bystanders were injured during the incident. Prince William County police is the lead agency in this investigation. More information will be released when available. The investigation continues.

Man convicted of downloading videos of child sexual abuse

From a press release: 

A Manassas man pleaded guilty today to receipt of child pornography.

According to court documents, Douglas Crowley, 57, used a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to download images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. Crowley also stored thousands of images and videos of child pornography on computers and external hard drives kept in his home.

Crowley pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on June 1. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Patrick J. Lechleitner, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., made the announcement after U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle P. Reynolds is prosecuting the case.

This case was iinvestigated by HSI with the assistance of the Northern Virginia / D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Senate panel votes to ban ‘lunch shaming’ in Virginia

RICHMOND – A Senate committee Thursday unanimously approved a bill to prohibit “lunch shaming” – the practice of singling out students who owe the school cafeteria money or cannot pay for their lunch.

The Senate Education and Health Committee voted 15-0 in favor of House Bill 50, which would bar schools from giving students a hand stamp or wristband when their lunch account is empty, or ask students to do chores or throw away their meal if they cannot pay. The bill specifies that any concerns regarding students’ lunch debt must be taken up directly with their parents or guardians.

The bill, which unanimously passed the House last week and now goes to the full Senate, would address the concerns of parents like Adelle Settle, a mother in Prince William County. She started fundraising to help students settle lunch debts after hearing about the lunch shaming phenomenon on the radio. Last year, she helped raise over $20,000 for students with meal debt in Prince William.

“A child has no control over their family finances, and a child should have no involvement in the discussion between a school and the parent to collect for meal debt,” Settle said. “Our kids deserve to be treated equally and with compassion at school.”

The price of a school lunch in Virginia public elementary schools averages $1.88, but it can be as high as $3.05 in Loudoun County and $3 in Fairfax County and Falls Church, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education.

As in all states, schools in Virginia participate in a federal program that provides free or reduced-price lunches to children from low-income families. Eligibility depends on income and household size. A four-person household must have an annual income of $44,955 or less to qualify for free lunches.

Students who receive free lunches are not at risk of being shamed by school staff because their meals are provided by government funding; the students cannot incur debts. Of the 1.29 million students in Virginia’s public schools, almost 572,000 – or 44 percent – qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.

But lunch shaming can affect the remaining students who pay for their lunch out of pocket and occasionally may not have the money.

Reports of meal-debt shaming vary across the country but include practices such as stamping “I need lunch money” on students’ hands, asking students to wipe down tables or throwing away the lunch that can’t be paid for.

In Virginia, procedures handling school lunch debt vary by school district. Some school districts allow students a certain amount of debt before refusing to provide them with a standard meal. Other districts treat all students the same, regardless of whether they owe money.

“Students unable to pay for their meal at the time of meal service are allowed to charge a breakfast and lunch,” said Shawn Smith, director of government, policy and media relations for Chesterfield County Public Schools. “This may result in a debt to the student’s meal account with the expectation that the parent or guardian is responsible for full payment.”

Virginia’s strides to abolish lunch shaming aren’t the first. Last year, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced a bill that would make it illegal to shame a student who doesn’t have lunch money.

*This story has been corrected. The original post misspelled the first name and misstated the title of Shawn Smith, the director of government, policy and media relations for Chesterfield County Public Schools. The article also incorrectly said Chesterfield County refuses to serve students who have a school-lunch debt or serves them an alternative meal.

Supervisor Anderson, Police Chief Keen talk traffic safety, enforcement on the first Potomac Local Podcast

Traffic congestion and enforcement is a growing problem in Prince William County.

As the population continues to increase, so do the number of fatal car crashes. There were 26 fatal crashes in the county in 2016, a whopping 145% increase over the prior year.

One local leader, Supervisor Ruth Anderson of the Occoquan District, says it’s no longer enough to address the speeding problem on a case-by-case, localized basis, and has called for the creation of a new panel made up of police, transportation officials, residents, and media to examine the problem and proposed new solutions.

Mrs. Anderson joins us today on the Potomac Local Podcast to discuss her new initiative, to tell us what it will mean for drivers, and for those who want safer roads.

Also joining us on the Potomac Local Podcast today is Manassas Police Chief Douglas Keen.

He’s been the city’s police chief for the past eight years, and he started his law enforcement career in Manassas in 1989.

It’s fair to say he’s seen a lot of change in the region, especially when it comes to traffic.

We talk to Mr. Keen about the challenges of traffic enforcement, and about what new tactics his officers are using to keep both drivers and pedestrians safe.

Ruth Anderson now heads OmniRide Executive Board

From a press release from OmniRide [Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission]

PRTC has a new Executive Board that will oversee the mobility services operated and sponsored by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

The 2018 Executive Board slate was completed at the February meeting of the PRTC Board of Commissioners. The officials are responsible for overseeing OmniRide bus and ridesharing services in the Prince William County area along with Virginia Railway Express operations in the region.

The new PRTC Chair is Ruth M. Anderson, who also serves on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors representing the Occoquan magisterial district.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of PRTC. More people will be looking for alternatives to driving alone as toll lanes are extended along I-95, I-395 and I-66, and as new commuter parking lots are built in the western communities,” Anderson said.

“In addition, PRTC is ready to start implementing its new Strategic Plan which aims to benefit the community by increasing transit ridership, bringing together public and private interests, and promoting alternatives to commuting solo,” Anderson said.

Joining Anderson on the 2018 Executive Committee are:

  • Vice Chair Jeanette Rishell, Mayor of Manassas Park;
  • Secretary Pamela J. Sebesky, member of the Manassas City Council;
  • Treasurer Wendy Maurer, member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors;
  • Immediate Past Chairman Frank J. Principi, member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and At-Large Member Gary F. Skinner, member of the Spotsylvania Board of County Supervisors.

    PRTC provides commuter and local bus services as well as ridesharing services in Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park. PRTC also co-sponsors the Virginia Railway Express in partnership with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

Commission meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge. Meetings are open to the public.

Mike Rowe visits Woodbridge K9 business for TV show taping

From a press release:

Television personality Mike Rowe is well-known for his time on the hit show “Dirty Jobs,” but now he’s spreading smiles with a new show called “Returning the Favor” on Facebook Watch, the television network for Facebook.

Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” is meant to be a humorous, inspiring and feel-good show that features Rowe as host, traveling the country in search of people who are striving to do good things and make a difference in the world around them. He then surprises them with rewards for their kindness.

Rowe and his crew recently surprised Christopher and Amanda Baity, the founders of local veteran service organization Semper K9 Assistance Dogs. While his television crew was filming a “documentary” about Semper K9, Rowe walked in mid-filming at their home office in Woodbridge. “I instantly recognized his voice when he said ‘Hello.’ as a voice I had heard before,” said Amanda Baity, Semper K9’s Director of Operations. “Once he peeked around the entryway I didn’t know what to think other than ‘OMG Mike Rowe is here in Woodbridge…in my house!”

Little did the Baitys know, members of their volunteer team had been plotting to surprise the couple for months. “It truly was a challenge to plan something of this size without them finding out,” said Tisa Newhouse, Volunteer Coordinator and board member. “There were some close calls but the look on their faces when the big reveal day came made all the long hours of planning and chaos more than worth it.”

“This honor to be chosen by Returning the Favor is huge for Semper K9 and the veterans we serve,” said Christopher Baity, the nonprofit’s Executive Director. “This has given us a substantial advantage to where we can accelerate our programs and help more veterans faster.”

Their episode of Returning the Favor will air in Season 2 which is currently showing on Facebook Watch. To find out what the Baitys and Semper K9 were surprised with other than a visit from Rowe and being highlighted on his show, stay tuned. “We can’t wait to share with everyone!” said Baity.

To learn more about Semper K9, visit www.SemperK9.org.

Supervisors approve funding for commuter parking garage site study

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Indecent exposure suspect caught, charged with multiple crimes

From the Prince William police press release:

Indecent Exposure *ARREST – On February 16, Kevin Allen RANDOLPH II was located and arrested without incident. The accused was wanted for an indecent exposure that occurred at a residence located in the 4600 block of Central Park Dr in Woodbridge on February 11.

    Arrested on February 16:

    Kevin Allen RANDOLPH II, 19, of 4409 block of Evansdale Rd in Woodbridge

Charged with 1 count of attempted burglary, 2 counts of indecent exposure, 3 count of stalking, and 1 count of destruction of property

Court Date: March 28, 2018 | Bond: Held

Indecent Exposure [Previously Released] – On February 11 at 11:58PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 4600 block of Central Park Dr in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate an indecent exposure. The victims, a 19-year-old woman and 52-year-old woman, reported to police that the accused, an acquaintance, was standing outside of their residence when he exposed himself to the victims and made an obscene gesture. When one of the victims confronted the suspect, he eventually fled the area on foot prior to officers arriving.  As officers were obtaining warrants for the accused, he returned to the residence and attempted to enter the back yard by removing a board from a fence. The accused fled the area again on foot when the victims spotted him. No other contact was made between the two parties. Further attempts to locate the accused have been unsuccessful. The investigation continues.

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