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‘…concerns have been raised within the business community regarding whether or not focusing on a real estate tax ratio is the best “measuring stick” for progress’

On Friday, November 3, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee will host renowned economist, Dr. Stephen Fuller of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute and members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors for a discussion on regional trends and the economics of growing the commercial tax base in Prince William County.

Earlier this year, Prince William County approved their FY17-20 Strategic Plan which contains long-term goals for the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) on topics ranging from economic development to public safety and education. Of particular interest to the business community is the economic development goal focused on increasing the ratio of commercial property tax to 35% of all collected revenues. Since the plan’s approval, the Chamber has hosted multiple meetings on this issue, hearing from County staff as well as industry leaders. 

View a September Opinion piece by the Chamber that explains more about the issue.

While growing business in the County is an important goal, and one which the Chamber supports, concerns have been raised within the business community regarding whether or not focusing on a real estate tax ratio is the best “measuring stick” for progress. The Chamber has invited the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to attend the presentation to hear from Dr. Fuller in hopes that the targeted discussion will provide the necessary economic framework to inform future policy decisions regarding the expansion of the commercial tax base. (more…)

Opioid Epidemic: Let’s talk about it

From an email from the Virginia Department of Health:

I am sharing information about an upcoming Opioid Epidemic event on Tuesday, Oct. 24, sponsored by the Community Healthcare Coalition of Greater Prince William and the Prevention Alliance of Greater Prince William. Please share with your readers, listeners, viewers, clients and/or friends. The flier for the event is attached as well. 

 

Two tons of trash removed from Occoquan River/Reservoir

From an email: 

Comfortable fall weather brought out 212 loyal FOTO volunteers in full force[on October 14] to relieve the scenic Occoquan River/Reservoir of 2 tons of trash from both the water and the shorelines.

JROTC of Woodbridge High, Boy Scouts, Penn Elementary School’s Stem Class, Air Force Recruits, SEV1Tech, Rotary Club of Manassas, Osbourn Eagles Interact Club, Optimist Club, Marymount University students and several families cleaned up at all sites in Fairfax & Prince William County & the Town of Occoquan. Among the 158 bags of trash, 40 bags of recyclables, there were also 6 tires, hubcaps, a car radiator, 2 radios, 1 play-station, 3 chairs, pipes, foam pieces, buckets, oil cans, nets and fishing supplies and other materials collected. Special thanks go out to all the

Special thanks go out to all the above mentioned volunteers and Park Manager Mike Tiller who disposed of the trash the 146 Lake Ridge Park volunteers had collected, as well as Kirstyn Barr Jovanovich, Linda Murray, Renate Vanegas and Estrella Vasilescu who manned the signup stations. Thanks to Comcast TV’s Liz Lockhart, video and other photos are available on our website www.friendsoftheoccoquan.org.

Surovell: Redistricting needed to break partisan gridlock

Four Big Issues No One is Discussing This Election Cycle
Virginians go to the polls in three weeks and if you followed the news cycle, you would think that the next General Assembly Session is going to be all about Confederate Statutes, street gangs, and natural gas pipelines – none of which is accurate. Here are four big issues facing Virginia that have been missing in action this cycle.

Redistricting
Hyper-partisan legislative districts are at the root the partisan gridlock we see today. While the Senate Democratic Caucus drew Virginia’s Senate districts in 2010, Virginia’s congressional and legislative districts were otherwise drawn by Republicans majorities with the cooperation of Republican governor’s in 2000 and 2010. Democratic voters have been crammed into a small number of seats and Virginia’s Congressional and House of Delegates districts are way out of proportion to Virginia’s actual voting.

Virginia’s next Governor will participate in Virginia’s next redistricting process. Ralph Northam and I have repeatedly endorsed and voted for non-partisan redistricting which would go a long way towards voters picking their leaders instead of leaders picking their voters.
(more…)

Prince William County leaders proclaim birth of Baha’ullah, founder of Baha’i Faith

WOODBRIDGE — When it came time to approve the consent agenda at last night’s meeting, the Brentsville District Supervisor stopped the show.

“What is this?” asked Jeanine Lawson.

The elected leader questioned a proclamation to praise the founder of Baha’i Faith, Baha’ullah, 200 years ago.

“I had never heard of it,” said Lawson. “I’m not questioning its existence, but I’ve not seen something like this in the past three years during my time on the Board.”

Lawson said she was concerned that the county Board of Supervisors would proclaim one religion, opening up the floodgates for proclamations to other faiths.

“With all due respect Supervisor Lawson, just because we haven’t recognized the Bellu’i Faith since you’ve been on the Board doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start now,” said Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, who brought the proclamation to the Board.

Prince William County Attorney Michelle Robl was asked to weigh in. She said the proclamation was in line with what the Board had supported in the past.

“I don’t think this is putting the board behind a certain religion,” she said.

Lawson threatened to bring forward a resolution to requesting the Board of Supervisors honor Jesus Christ if this Board approved this particular resolution.

It did, with Lawson being the only leader to vote Nay.

Temps headed to the mid 30s overnight, frost advisory issued

From the National Weather Service:

…FROST ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM TO 9 AM EDT WEDNESDAY…

* TEMPERATURES…Dropping into the mid 30s by dawn, especially away from larger bodies of water and urban areas.

* IMPACTS…A Frost Advisory means that widespread frost is expected. Sensitive outdoor plants may be killed if left uncovered.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Frost Advisory means that widespread frost is expected. Sensitive outdoor plants may be killed if left uncovered.

Outdoor Food Festival to stock shelves for ACTS food pantry

From an email:

Manassas, VA– The Prince William Chamber of Commerce will host their annual Cuisine de Commerce on Thursday, November 2 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Chamber’s building at 9720 Capital Court near the Manassas Airport.

This year the event transforms from a luncheon into an outdoor food festival; complete with live music by classic rock cover band Type A, cornhole boards and all-you-can-eat samples from the area’s best restaurants, caterers and food trucks. Those attending should bring a donation of non-perishable foods. Burke & Herbert Bank is sponsoring a food drive at Cuisine de Commerce with donations benefitting the ACTS food pantry in Dumfries. (more…)

‘The driver of the Dodge, a 55-year-old Haymarket, Va., male, was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital’

From an email: 

At 4:42 a.m.Friday (Oct. 13), Virginia State Police Trooper B.J. Burke responded to a two-vehicle crash in Loudoun County.  The crash occurred on Route 9, less than a mile west of Route 611.

There was a tractor-trailer traveling east on Purcellville Road/Route 9 when three vehicles following behind it pulled into the westbound lane to pass the tractor-trailer in a no passing zone. The first two vehicles made it around the tractor-trailer and back into the eastbound lane. The third vehicle, a 2001 Kia Spectra, did not. As the Kia came into the curve heading east in the westbound lane, it struck head-on a westbound 2014 Dodge Charger.

The driver of the Kia, Kevin R. Bell, 60, of Inwood, W.Va., died at the scene. He was wearing a seat belt.

The driver of the Dodge, a 55-year-old Haymarket, Va., male, was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. He was wearing a seat belt.

The crash remains under investigation.

Manassas man, 18, arrested on four counts of malicious wounding

From Prince William County police:

Malicious Wounding – On October 14 at 12:12 a.m, officers responded to a residence located in the 13000 block of Dane Valley Ct in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a fight. The investigation revealed that the victim, 19-year-old man of Woodbridge, was involved in a verbal altercation with the accused, an acquaintance, which escalated. During the encounter, the accused pushed the victim to the ground and kicked him in the mouth damaging several of the victim’s teeth.

The accused fled the area prior to officers arriving. On October 15 around 1:44 a.m., officers responded to investigate another fight which occurred at a residence located in the 13800 block of Holly Forest Dr in Manassas (20112). The investigation revealed that the accused arrived at another party where he was involved in a verbal altercation with a 19-year-old male and 17-year-old male. A fight broke out and the accused assaulted the victims with a crow bar and brass knuckles. (more…)

Traffic snarled on Yates Ford Road this morning — incidents in two places

Two incidents snarled commuters on Yates Ford Road this morning.

The first was a crash at Esther Court.

From Prince William police:

“…occurred at Ethel Ct at 6:55AM. It was a three-vehicle accident. One of the drivers was cited for following too closely.”

The second was in Fairfax County.

From Fairfax County police:

“Around 9:11 hours this morning, Oct 17 in the area of Old Yates Ford and Kincheloe Rd, there was an 18 wheeler attempting to turn around causing traffic backup.”

@FixRoute28 sent us the featured image for this post showing the backup on Google Maps.

We’ll be talking about Yates Ford and Davis Ford Roads, and the regular traffic backups commuters face on this popular road linking Fairfax and Prince William counties, at our town hall event on Thursday.

If you drive this route on a regular basis, you should attend this free event.

Leaked chemicals caused HAZMAT on Pageland Lane

Authorities report a HAZMAT situation on Pageland Lane this morning Gainesville is now in VDOT’s hands.

Emergency crews relinquished control of the HAZMAT scene to the state transportation agency.

Police provided us with the details on what led to the incident:

Pageland is closed for a two-vehicle accident. One of the vehicles involved was a lawn service truck and may have leaked some of the lawn application chemicals onto the roadway. HAZMAT cleanup of the fluid is underway. Traffic was being alternated on Sudley Rd past the scene. Traffic on Pageland is being diverted onto Thorton.

Update: Schools cancel public hearing on sale of excess land at 13th high school site

At its public meeting on Wednesday night, the Prince William County School Board is set to approve the sale of four and a half acres of unwanted land at the site of its soon-to-be-built 13th high school to NOVEC.

The new school will be located off Progress Court in Gainesville, near Jiffy Lube Live.

From school board documents: 

Summary: The Prince William County School Board recently purchased 101.5 acres of land for the 13th High School. Due to the extension of future University Boulevard, several acres of land will not be usable for the 13th High School. Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) owns and operates a substation on property adjacent to the unusable land and needs to expand operations to serve the high school, as well as other new businesses in the area. NOVEC has requested to purchase approximately 4.46 acres of the unneeded property for that expansion at 8225 Linton Hall Road and 7801 Limestone Road.

The School Board paid $158,558 an acre for the area of land across the future University Boulevard and, in turn, is selling the land to NOVEC for the same per-acre value, which amounts to a total of $707,168.

The School Board held a public hearing on the sale of excess School Board property and retention of proceeds from the sale on October 18, 2017.

From NOVEC spokeswoman Priscilla Knight: 

“…NOVEC’s customer base is growing in Prince William County.  The extra acreage will allow us to expand the existing substation at Linton Hall Road and Limestone Road to better serve our customers.”

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Kelly Leadership Center, located at 14715 Bristow Road at Independent Hill.

Update: 

Schoo officials tell us they have pulled tonight’s sale of land to NOVEC from the agenda, so there will be no public hearing. 

From Prince William County Public Schools: 

The following agenda items have been removed from tonight’s School Board meeting agenda. Staff will be re-evaluating the sale price.

10. Public Hearing

10.01 – Public Hearing – Sale of Excess Vacant Land – Portion of 13th High School

14. Adoption of Consent Agenda

14.09 – Sale of Excess Vacant Portion of 13th High School Land

At $25,000 per space, ‘structured parking is not recommended’ in Occoquan

A report on the crowded parking conditions will be given to the Occoquan Town Council Tuesday night.

The study does not recommend the town build a parking garage. 

From the study: 

“Providing public (Town-owned) structured parking is not recommended. A planning level cost estimate for building a new structured parking facility is $25,000 per space, and can increase from there based on incorporated technologies and architectural features for the garage. This cost does not account for the ongoing maintenance and operation for the facility. In addition, with the current development patterns, there is no open space remaining to accommodate the size needed for the structure, access, and other considerations necessary for the implementation of a parking garage as a town -owned facility.”

More from Occoquan Town Manager Kirstyn Jovanavich: 

We have a DRAFT report of the traffic and parking study on the town’s website here:http://www.occoquanva.gov/.  The consultant, JMT, will present the DRAFT report to Town Council at their work session tomorrowOctober 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall.  The presentation will focus on providing the initial findings and proposed recommendations, and obtain feedback from the Town Council.  As this is a work session, there is no opportunity for public comment at this meeting and the Town Council will not vote on implementing any recommendations at this time.  A final draft of the report is expected by November.  Any recommendations that the Town Council may consider in the future will go through a formal community input process prior to implementation.

I will note that we have received comments from the community concerned that the town is considering implementing timed or metered parking. I wanted to dispel this rumor and advise that at this time, the draft report does not include a recommendation for timed or metered parking within the business district.  The report does include other recommendations including shared parking of private lots, encouraging employee parking in off-street lots, and improving parking utilization in the town lots in order to free up on-street parking for customers and visitors to the historic district.

Flickr photo: Patrick DB

‘After this evening, it’s mainly a temperature forecast through the middle of the week, with attention paid to frost/freeze concerns’

From the National Weather Service: 

“DAY ONE…Today and Tonight Patchy frost is possible tonight, primarily away from the urban areas and away from the tidal waters. .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…Tuesday through Sunday Patchy frost is possible Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, primarily away from the urban areas and away from the tidal waters.

SHORT TERM /6 PM THIS EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT/… After this evening, it`s mainly a temperature forecast through the middle of the week, with attention paid to frost/freeze concerns. High pressure will move in from the west tonight and then remain directly over the region through the middle of the week. Clouds will be minimal and winds light.

Have trended forecast toward colder guidance for overnight lows given what should be fairly good radiational cooling conditions. Tonight may be a little tricky since some wind is likely to linger, but it does look like calmer conditions are likely toward dawn. A Freeze Watch will be in effect for portions of the highlands tonight. Would not be surprised if there were some pockets of near-freezing temperatures in the rest of the western valleys as well. Will let the day shift determine which areas will need a Frost Advisory, with locations west of the Blue Ridge looking most favorable.

Temperatures will gradually moderate through the middle of the week, but not before another potential frost/freeze for outlying areas Tuesday night. Daytime highs will remain in the 60s Tuesday, but inch into the 70s for some areas on Wednesday.”

‘If one person looks at the pink rims, pink handcuffs, and decides they need to get a mammogram, it’s all worth it’

A total of 36 people participated in the 1st annual Haymarket Police Department Breast Cancer Walk.

Chief Kevin Lands said his mother died three years ago of breast cancer, and didn’t get regular mammograms. The effort to raise awareness for breast cancer is important to him, he told Haymarket Local.

All month, officers have been wearing pink badges, driving specialized pink police cruisers, and using pink handcuffs.

“If one person looks at the pink rims, pink handcuffs, and decides they need to get a mammogram, it’s all worth it,” said Lands.

More from the police department:

“The Haymarket Police Department would like to thank everyone that came out and participated in our 1st annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk. We had a great turn out as participants painted rocks at a booth sponsored by Suzanne Leake, took crazy pics at our photo booth, got refreshments from our hydration booth sponsored by State Farm Insurance and enjoyed lunch sponsored by Chick-Fil-A. We also had a representative from Congresswoman Barbara Comstocks office attend and read a letter from her praising the police department for putting this event together.

We had mobile medics on hand staffed by off duty nurse volunteers, and the police department lead the walkers on a 3 mile tour of our wonderful town and it’s beautiful neighborhoods.

We would like express our sincere gratitude to Kandice Michael, oncology program coordinator, and Jackie Glenn, breast health navigator of Novant Health: Haymarket Medical Center for passing out literature and for all the work they do for cancer patients in the area. We were able to raise $515 to give to them to buy gas cards to help local cancer patients get to and from their cancer treatments.”

Photos: Reader submitted

Sunday’s AMBER Alert case: ‘The accused used a sharp instrument to deflate three tires of a vehicle belonging to one of the witnesses ‘

Prince William police tell us the missing 16-year-old girl who was the subject of an AMBER Alert across the state on Sunday was found that afternoon on a park bench in Dale City, along with her suspected captor. 

When police questioned the couple about their identity, police said both provided a fake name. 

More from police: 

Abduction | Amber Alert – On October 15 at 1:43AM, officers responded to the 14800 block of Danville Rd in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a possible abduction. The investigation revealed the victim, a 16-year-old female, was attending a party at a home in the above area with the accused, an acquaintance.

According to witnesses, during the party, the victim and the accused got into a verbal altercation which escalated physically. Other attendees assisted the victim and the parties separated. At that point, the accused displayed a knife towards the witnesses and made claims to be a member of the criminal street gang MS-13.

The accused eventually left the area in a vehicle and returned a short time later with other associates. The accused used a sharp instrument to deflate three tires of a vehicle belonging to one of the witnesses who initially helped the victim. While at the residence, the victim and the accused came into contact and got into another argument. Witnesses then observed the victim being forcibly placed in the vehicle by the accused, seemingly against her will. Detectives listed the victim as missing and endangered and Virginia State Police issued an Amber Alert.

During the investigation, around 2:00PM, information was received indicating both parties were at an address on Barksdale St in Woodbridge. Officers arrived and located a female and male, both of whom provided a false identification to police. The individuals were eventually positively identified and questioned about the incident.

The victim was unharmed and reunited with her family. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as Roberto Antoni MEDRANO-SEGOVIA, was arrested.

                Arrested on October 15:

                Roberto Antoni MEDRANO-SEGOVIA, 21, of No Fixed Address

Charged with abduction, gang participation, destruction of property and providing a false name to law enforcement

Court Date: November 7, 2017 | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

‘adding roundabouts at the Davis Ford…Yates Ford Rd in Prince William County…Henderson Rd…Old Yates Ford Rd in Fairfax County will help’

In advance of our upcoming Occoquan District Congestion Think Tank for Davis Ford and Yates Ford Road at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 (you should come), here’s an idea to help traffic flow along the popular two-lane commuter route that links Prince William and Fairfax counties.

From Mark Scheufler/@FixRoute28

Would Rt. 28 improvements help Yates Ford drivers?

Any additional crossing of the Bull Run/Occoquan River will help commuters currently using Yates Ford Road as a cut through option.  The only new capacity planned are an additional High Occupancy Toll Lane (HOT) in each direction on I-66 and along Route 28 north of Yorkshire.  It is unclear how much capacity will be added across the Bull Run on Route 28.  It could be one lane in each direction or two lanes in each direction.  But improvements are not expected until at least 2024.   Improving the Route 1/Route 123/I-95 interchange would also help commuters currently cutting through Clifton to get to Fort Belvior.

Until major improvements are completed along the major thoroughfares adding roundaboutat the Davis Ford Rd and Yates Ford Rd in Prince William County and at Henderson Rd and Old Yates Ford Rd in Fairfax County will help manage the flow/spacing of traffic along the corridor. ge

‘Queen and Amri knew that Qamar had attempted to travel overseas to join ISIS in 2014, yet they lied to and misled the FBI…’

From an email from the Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia office: 

An owner of a Fairfax gaming center was sentenced to prison today for obstructing justice and making false statements involving international terrorism.

Michael Queen, 28, of Woodbridge, was sentenced to 2 years in prison. According to court documents, Queen and Soufian Amri, 32, of Falls Church, lied to FBI agents to prevent them from learning about and investigating their friend Haris Qamar’s attempt to travel to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Queen and Amri knew that Qamar had attempted to travel overseas to join ISIS in 2014, yet they lied to and misled the FBI by saying that the only person they knew who might travel to join ISIS was a “tall, thin, Indian” individual. Queen later told Qamar that Queen and Amri gave the FBI the name of a Hindu individual as someone who might support ISIS. Queen told Qamar, “I’m never going to throw a Muslim underneath the bus to try to do the right thing.”

Qamar was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison on February 17 for attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Amri is scheduled to be sentenced on October 27.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and Collen E. Garcia prosecuted the case.

Do community service by playing in NOVEC HELPS’ Texas Hold’em fundraiser

From Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative:

MANASSAS, Va. – Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative’s group of employee volunteers, NOVEC HELPS, will hold its 7th annual Texas Hold’em fundraising poker tournament on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Prince William County Police Association Hall, 14288 Independent Hill Drive, Manassas. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. Games start at 6:30 p.m. The top 10 players will win prizes and other participants will win door prizes. Fee: $50 per player if registered before Oct. 20; $60 at the door.

NOVEC HELPS will give net proceeds to charitable, community, and school organizations supported by HELPS. Groups include: the American Red Cross, Easter Seals, ACTS, Northern Virginia Family Service, Britepath, and Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center. (more…)

Puzzle Palooza outgrows Occoquan, expanding to a second location

From Puzzle Palooza:

We are very excited to be opening our second location in Manassas at 9411 Main St. Suite 101, the Trusler Hall Building, next to Philly Tavern. Our goal is to be open at 10 AM Monday morning November 13. We will be spending the entire weekend moving in and setting up shop. We will be open seven days a week starting at 10 AM till 7 pm M-F, with later hours in the evening on weekends.

As with their initial space, we will be featuring Puzzles and Puzzle accessories, books, brain teasers and puzzle games from four pieces to 40,000 pieces ranging from ages toddler to elderly. We started our first location in Occoquan 2013 and have watched it grow over the past five years into our own little empire.

We are listed as # 1 in “Things to Do in Occoquan” on Trip Advisor and feel honored and proud of the support from customers and the community. Puzzle building Is a common hobby/love for us since childhood and after visiting several out-of-state Puzzle/hobby shops, we knew that it was what we wanted to do. We quickly learned that it reconstituted the ideal framework of “family fun” and supported longtime traditions.
(more…)

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