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Beer, ads, and emails: An update from Potomac Local

We’ve made some changes on our PotomacLocal.com homepage to better serve you.

This spring, we replaced the sidebar ads on the right side of the website with more site features, such as a new weather widget, our most recent sponsored posts, and a listing of the most-viewed stories on the website.

Info widgets 

We also created a new section on our homepage to feature Public Safety News in our coverage area of Prince William County, Stafford County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. As soon as the public safety agencies in our community post incident information on their social media pages, we’re grabbing it automatically and publishing it to our website.

The new weather widget shows the latest update from the National Weather Service office in Sterling, so you’ll always be able to see current conditions and the latest forecast. (more…)

Like mom, like daughter: Both winners in Prince William fair baby contest

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MANASSAS — There’s one thing Morgan Welch did before her child won the Prince William County Fair Baby Contest.

“I got a hot husband,” said the 25-year-old Manassas woman, who, presumably, helped to make a beautiful baby.

Welch, 25, and her husband, Mike, entered their 10-month-old daughter Aliva Grace into the judging for the cutest baby age nine to 18 months contest on Saturday, August 12.

Alivia, in a blue dress with a pink bow in her hair, won the first place purple ribbon.

It’s the same ribbon Morgan Welch has behind glass hanging on her wall at home. Like mother like daughter, Morgan Welch won the Prince William County Beautiful Baby Contest when she was 18 months old in 1993.

“I thought this was so cute, I just wanted to come out and be a part of it again,” said Aliva’s mother, Morgan. (more…)

Tornado confirmed near Prince William County line

A tornado touched down on Friday near the Prince William County line.

The wind storm measured EF-0 and was on the ground for two minutes between 6:08 and 6:10 p.m. Friday, August 11. It cut a path of damage about a mile long, 100 yards wide at Broad Run in Fauquier County near the Chapman Mill Historic Site.

The weak tornado had wind speeds of 75 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

“This is what we call a super cell,” said John Hoffman, at the National Weather Service office in Sterling. “It’s storm that acts as its own low-pressure system, and the rotation inside the storm can reach the ground.”

Doppler radar on Friday indicated a tornado at 6:02 p.m. and the weather service issued a tornado warning, said Hoffman, as the storm marched east along Interstate 66.

This confirmed tornado comes four days after the National Weather Service said an EF-1 tornado hit Salisbury, Md. with winds of 105 mph.

No one was injured in either tornado.

“I’ve been here for four years, and this summer has been more active than previous years,” said Hoffman.

Virginia’s newest millionaire bought his ticket in Manassas

MANASSAS — Enrico Pelausa is a millionaire.

The Manassas Park man won the cash after he purchased a winning Virginia Lottery Ticket at the In and Out Mart at 9103 Mathis Avenue in Manassas for the July 8 Powerball drawing.

Pelausa’s ticket hit, but lottery officials didn’t hear from a winner until this week. Lottery officials issued a public notice in July seeking the winner who purchased the ticket in Manassas.

Here’s a statement from the Virginia Lottery:

For nearly five weeks, Enrico Pelausa had a million-dollar secret. The Manassas Park electrician had a Powerball ticket that matched the first five numbers, making it worth $1 million.

However, instead of coming forward and claiming the prize immediately, Mr. Pelausa took his time, getting financial affairs in order.

Mr. Pelausa bought the ticket at In & Out Mart, 9103 Mathis Avenue in Manassas, for the July 8 Powerball drawing. He used Easy Pick, allowing the computer to randomly select the numbers on his ticket.

The winning numbers were 8-10-29-40-59, and the Powerball number was 26. His ticket was the only one in the nation to match the first five numbers in that drawing. When he checked the winning numbers for that drawing, he had a hard time believing his luck.

Meanwhile, the store receives a $10,000 bonus from the Virginia Lottery for selling the winning ticket.

(more…)

Longtime educator, school board member readies to open elementary school bearing her name

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Harper and Covington [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]

Editors note: This is the first in a series of two stories about Betty Covington and John Harper, for which Covington-Harper Elementary School is named.

Betty Covington is looking forward to the opening of a new elementary school that will bear her name.

Covington-Harper Elementary School will be the 62nd elementary school in Prince William County when it opens this fall. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, August 24.

The elementary school located at 2500 River Heritage Boulevard near Dumfries is named after both Covington, a longtime county educator and school board member, and John Harper, Jr. the first African-American man to serve in elected county office, and the first to head county government department.

The new building is the third structure in the county to bear Covington’s name. The gymnasium at R. Dean Kilby Elementary School in Woodbridge, where she was principal for 19 years is named after her. The library at Dumfries Elementary School, where she taught and was later principal, is also named for her.

“I’ve been honored before, and I appreciate all of it,” said Covington. (more…)

Updated: Dove to hold fast in 11th District race

Exclusive

A source tells Potomac Local a replacement for Laquan Austion could be Jeffery Dove, who is now running for congress.

Austion today dropped out of Virginia’s Hosue District 2 race in Prince William and Stafford counties. Dove is running against Democrat Gerry Connolly (D-11 Fairfax, Prince William) who has held the job since 2009.

Dove is running against Democrat Gerry Connolly (D-11 Fairfax, Prince William) who has held the job since 2009. He has yet to comment for this story.

Last year, Dove took to Twitter and showed interest in the House District 2 seat, which serves residents in Prince William and Stafford counties.

From Dove’s Twitter page:

If Dove becomes the candidate, he would face Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy in the House District 2 race. Foy is a public defender and professor at Northern Virginia Community College. 

She issued a statement Friday afternoon after Austion dropped out of the race. 

“I would like to thank Laquan Austion for stepping up to run. I will continue to work to earn the votes of all of my neighbors in the Second District. I will fight to expand Medicaid to 400,000 more Virginians, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health care, end the school-to-prison pipeline, and find solutions to our broken transportation system. I have devoted my entire life to public service — fighting for the voiceless as a public defender and foster mother — and hope to serve all of the Second District as Delegate.”

The HD2 race has been an eventful one this year. Republican Mark Dudenhefer in January made a surprise announcement stating he would not seek reelection for the seat.

In June, Democrat Josh King requested a recount following a close Primary race with fellow Foy, who won the recount by 12 votes.

Updated: 

Jeff Dove will stay the course in the 11th Congressional District race. 

He sent Potomac Local this statement: 

“While I am honored that the many Republicans have put my name into the mix for this seat,  I am currently laser focused on making life better for the people of the 11th Congressional District.”

 

 

Laquan Austion drops out of House District 2 race

STAFFORD — Republicans in Stafford and Prince William counties are looking for a new candidate for House District 2.

Laquan Austion dropped out.

“Laquan Austion is withdrawing his candidacy for the Second House District effective today. We appreciate his willingness to run for office and serve. We have already started the process of recruiting a strong candidate that will give voters a clear choice in November.”

Austion came under fire this week when the Richmond Times-Dispatch learned the candidate provided false information to voters on his LinkedIn page, and to Potomac Local about his education. Austion claimed to have a Masters Degree from The George Washington University that he didn’t possess.

The report also stated Austion purchased an Audi automobile but never made a payment, A court case in this matter, as well as another debt were dismissed because Austion was not able to be located, according to the Times-Dispatch story. (more…)

Dumfries issues crackdown on unpaid parking tickets

DUMFRIES — Dumfries residents have until September 3 to pay their unpaid parking tickets without facing additional fines.

An ordinance passed unanimously this month by the town council allows police to tow or install a boot on any vehicle that has three or more unpaid parking tickets. It also allows police to tow a vehicle or semi-trailer that has been idle for 10 days sitting private or public property, without the consent of the vehicle or property owner.

The ordinance sets fines for parking tickets at $25 to $100 and imposes an additional $200 fee if the payment is not postmarked and mailed to the town treasurer’s office within 10 days of police issuing the ticket. If the 10th day falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, no penalty is imposed until the next business day, according to town documents (PDF).

Dumfries Police Chief Nicholas Esposito said there are 1,476 unpaid parking tickets in the town. That adds up to over $100,000 in lost revenue for the town, according to Mayor Jerry Foreman. The lost revenue has had an impact on the town’s budget.

“I’m proud to say that, while I’ve been mayor, we’ve lowered property taxes,” said Mayor Jerry Foreman. “The next thing we are going to talk about is raising taxes because we’re not collecting the fees.”

A total of 176 of those are repeat offenders with three or more parking tickets, added Esposito. (more…)



Governor McAuliffe breaks ground on I-395 Express Lanes extension

Reliable and faster travel choices coming on I-395 Corridor 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and its private partner and operator of the I-95 Express Lanes, Transurban, to break ground on the start of construction of an eight-mile extension of the I-395 Express Lanes from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. border. The project provides more options for faster and more reliable travel in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country and expands the region’s network of express lanes. The project includes a long-term investment in transit for the corridor, through a yearly payment of $15 million (to be escalated annually) that will be paid by Transurban to the Commonwealth. This annual transit payment will support transit and multimodal initiatives benefitting the corridor.

“Anyone who travels on I-395 and I-95 today can attest that this is one of the most congested corridors in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Today’s groundbreaking is the first project of the Commonwealth’s larger Atlantic Gateway Initiative which aims to unlock the I-95 Corridor. The Atlantic Gateway Initiative and the I-395 project demonstrate how we can work with our public and private partners to improve the quality of life for Virginians and our visitors – and keep our new Virginia economy growing.”

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne added, “Under Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, today’s milestone is one more step toward expanding the express lanes network in Northern Virginia, and providing travelers with much-needed travel choices to reach their destinations faster. The key benefit continues to be options, and we are ready to focus on delivering this new choice on 395.”

The I-395 Express Lanes project provides specific benefits for the thousands of commuters who work at or near the Pentagon, as well as the many carpoolers or commuter bus users transferring at the Pentagon to continue to their destination. By reconstructing the Pentagon’s South Parking area and adding new bus lanes and HOV commuter and “slug” lanes to improve traffic flow and safety for buses and carpools, the project’s benefits extend well beyond the express lanes.

Other key project features include adding a fourth regular lane on I-395 South between the Duke Street and Edsall Road Interchanges, to help relieve the congestion which occurs when I-395 shrinks from four to three lanes in this area. Additionally, the project includes rehabilitating several I-395 bridges, and building new sound walls to protect neighboring communities.

The project is anticipated to cost approximately $500 million, with a combination of private and public funds. The project is one element of the Commonwealth’s Atlantic Gateway Program, a series of major improvements to the I-95/I-395 corridor.

“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to deliver a critical missing link that will connect Express Lanes customers to new destinations along I-395 and Washington D.C.,” said Jennifer Aument, Group General Manager, North America, Transurban. “Crews will begin work right away on improvements that are going to help drivers on I-395 get home faster, while also generating funds to support new transit options. As construction begins, we encourage all travelers to stay alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and keep an eye out for workers on the road.”

Plans to extend the Express Lanes began in November 2015 with a Framework Agreement under the 95 Express Lanes Comprehensive Agreement between VDOT and Transurban. In February 2017, after meeting specific project-delivery and financial criteria, the Commonwealth approved Transurban’s proposal to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the 395 Express Lanes extension.

AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction are under contract to Transurban to design and build the extended 395 Express Lanes. The express lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019 and the other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020.

Construction of the expanded express lanes will occur largely within VDOT’s right-of-way; however, some work such as sound wall construction may require crews to access right-of-way and areas adjacent to the project corridor. Preliminary work such as geotechnical investigations and surveying began last March.

More information about the project is available at: 395expresslanes.com and virginiadot.org/395express

 

Groundbreaking set for new Coles fire station

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — A new fire station will be built next to the Coles District Fire and Rescue Department.

A groundbreaking for the 21,400 square-foot replacement fire and rescue station on Route 234 on 13712 Dumfries Road near Independent Hill will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 14. When it opens, the new station will house a heavy rescue, tanker, a basic life-support ambulance, and a truck to battle brush fires.

The Prince William County Fire and Rescue Department will continue to operate its HAZMAT unit from the new Coles station, too. The new building will feature expanded office space, sleeping quarters, more suitable apparatus areas, and hazmat storage, according to the county’s capital improvement plan.

The current building sits on nine acres of land and is assessed at $1.4 million. It will be torn down after the new fire station opens in fall 2018.

The area on which the old station sits will be used for training first responders for HAZMAT situations, said Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe. He said there was no discussion on selling the land on the busy Route 234 corridor to the private developer after the new fire station opens.

When viewing the current building from the front, the new station will be built to the left of the existing structure. The new station is slated to cost $10.7 million. (more…)

Woodbridge voter office future uncertain, again

WOODBRIDGE — A voter office in Woodbridge could once again be headed for the chopping block.

The Prince William County Electoral Board is prepared to be hit once more with rent fees from the Virginia DMV.

In March, the state asked for 14 years of back rent in the amount of $31,200 for a voter registration office inside the Woodbridge DMV Customer Service Center on Caton Hill Road. The office is also used as an absentee in-person voting center in the weeks leading up to November General Elections.

“We’ve been there rent-free for years,” said Prince William Electoral Board Secretary Keith Scarborough.

After the March notice, there were fears the only voter registration office on the eastern side of Prince William County would close. The closure was averted when DMV officials backed off, and county officials were told they had at least one more year to operate in the building.

“I think the call for rent was a ‘get out’ message,” said Electoral Board Chairman Robin Williams.

If it was, the election officials have few places has few places to go. The Board on Wednesday wrangled not only with finding what to do about the Woodbridge DMV site but also to find a new site to serve the western end of Prince William County in the growing Haymarket and Gainesville areas. (more…)

Potomac River Living Shoreline Project gets another financial boost

WOODBRIDGE — Dominion Energy today donated another $35,000 to the Living Shorelines Project at Leesylvania State Park.

Company officials joined Chief Park Ranger Karen Lambey on the Potomac River shoreline in Woodbridge to present the check.

“This project is very important to us, and anytime we have an opportunity to help with these environmental projects, we like to do so,” said Deborah Tompkins Johnson, with Dominion.

The latest donation brings Dominion Energy’s contribution effort to about $100,000, she added.

So far in the $500,000 effort to preserve the shoreline, two and a half large stone sills have been built off the shoreline of Leesylvania State Park to protect the land, plants, and aquatic life from waves, boat wake. The sills also stop beachline erosion and allow native grasses to take root and grow to better hold in place the shoreline.

A small area of standing water separates the shore from the rock sills.

“We’ve seen fish lay eggs, and find safety from predators in the standing water areas,” said Lambey.

One and a half more sills still need to be installed for a total of four for the project to be complete. The encompasses 25 feet of shoreline and will be completed two years from now.

Over the past 20 years, Leesylvania has seen 25 feet or more of erosion on its shoreline.

“There’s a drop off here where there wasn’t one before,” said Lambey, while standing on a trail overlooking the river at the park’s Potomac Beach picnic area.

(more…)

Mission BBQ donates $2 for each red cup purchased

Mission BBQ will bring back it’s red Amercian Hero’s cup this late summer.

When diners purchase a drink in the cup for $3.99, a total of $2 of the purchase will go to a charity chosen by local fire and police departments. Customers may keep the cup and bring them back for discounted refills.

Funds from cup purchases in Stafford County will go to Operation Warm: Coats for Kids, according to Stafford County Fire Chief Mark Lockhart.

The promotion runs Aug. 11 through Sept. 11.

Mission BBQ has locations in North Stafford at 267 Garrisvonville Road, and a soon-to-open location on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge. A company spokeswoman was unable to provide us with information about the opening of the Woodbridge location.

Adopt Me Wednesday: Reggie is neutered and gets along great with other dogs

The Stafford County Animal Shelter as a furry friend waiting for his forever home. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

His name is Reggie. He’s about 2-3 years old! Very energetic and playful!

Gets along great with other dogs, but we aren’t sure about kitties. He is neutered and up to date on his vaccines. He was found as a stray so we aren’t sure if he is housebroken or not.

Reggie also does better with older children as he can get a little rough with little ones when he plays

You can visit the animal shelter’s website for more information, as well as see operating hours so you can visit Reggie and other animals in Stafford County.

Prince William is outgrowing its voting precincts

WOODBRIDGE — Elections officials in Prince William County are warning of continued long lines at voting precincts due to population growth, according to public documents.

The Board of Supervisors this month denied a request to set a public hearing to allow for the creation of five new voting precincts and corresponding polling places, as well as shift precinct boundaries. By law, the changes would have needed to have been made by September 8, enough time (60 days) before the November 7 General Election.

In this off-year election when, traditionally, lines are shorter, voters will head to the polls to select a new governor, candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates, and municipal offices in Manassas and Manassas Park.

After the Presidential Election of Barack Obama in 2012, long voter lines in Prince William County got congressional attention.

None of Prince William County’s 92 voting precincts may have more than 5,000 registered voters, according to state law. Four precincts were found to have more than 4,000 voters as of July 1: (more…)

Republican in Prince William, Stafford House race falsely touts Masters Degree, apologizes

STAFFORD — Laquan Austion replied to a Potomac Local candidate survey and listed a degree he doesn’t have.

The Republican seeking to replace Delegate Mark Dudenhefer in Virginia House District 2 in Prince William and Stafford counties told readers he obtained a Masters Degree from The George Washington University.

On Tuesday, his campaign manager Kurt Lofquist told Potomac Local via email that Austion doesn’t have the degree but is pursuing one. Austion obtained a Bachelors from Drew University in New Jersey.

The admission follows a Richmond Times-Dispatch story that first broke the news, and reported Austion is not currently enrolled in classes at GWU. (more…)

Local lender expands free Q&A series for business owners

Local business capital advisor and direct lender One Degree Capital is expanding their successful series “Capital Over Coffee.” These informal forums are hosted at local coffee shops throughout the DC Metro area providing local business owners an opportunity to ask questions about finding and securing business loans in an informal setting without the hassle and formality of going through a loan application process just to get feedback from a lender.

“Our first Capital Over Coffee event in Falls Church, Virginia, sold out quickly,” explains Rod Loges, co-founder, and president of One Degree Capital. “As word spread we had several other business owners asking when we would be hosting an event near them. It just seemed logical to expand into other areas in the DC Metro area.”

“There is a clear need for this type of forum in our area,” says Jenn Mathis, co-founder and vice president of One Degree Capital. “Business owners don’t need yet another loan option thrown at them. What they need is help objectively evaluating the dozens of options that exist today to determine what is best for their particular business situation right now.” (more…)

First phase of Sentara Northern Virginia Emergency Department renovation is complete

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is expanding upon its commitment to serve the community by redesigning and renovating its Emergency Department. Starting Friday evening, August 4, 2017, at seven o’clock, the main emergency department lobby reopened. 

The hospital is redesigning the Emergency Department in its efforts to meet the needs of the community by offering a state of the art space that caters to the patient experience and patient care work flows. 

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center announced in April it would accept emergency patients through the hospital’s main entrance to expedite the check-in process while the ED lobby was under renovation.  (more…)

Saved Hands Foundation is preparing for School Back Pack Giveaway

· Good morning Prince William – Saved Hands Foundation is in the final week preparing for their Annual August Back to School Back Pack Giveaway! It’s as easy as picking up a few extra items this week and dropping them off starting at 12 noon on Saturday, August 12th at Potomac Library, 2201 Opitz Blvd. in Woodbridge. Please help a kid start the new school year with the basics to make them be successful. Contact Pamela at 703-895-6681 for more info.

· Merrimac Farm is looking for volunteers to help in the gardens on both Saturday, August 12th and August 26th, 9 a.m.- 12 noon. Come get your hands dirty and enjoy. Please call (703) 499-4954 for more info.

· Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has the best deal in town for all you crab lovers- come join their event at VFW Post 1503 on Minnieville Road for all you can eat crabs, flounder, wing dings, corn on the cob, potatoes, beans and much more for just $65 a ticket- wow! This event supports their scholarship and public service fund. Please check out their website at pwcacdst.org to purchase tickets.

· Habitat for Humanity in Manassas needs volunteers to help at the Restore. It’s a super fun, busy place. Please sign up on their volunteer calendar for the shift that works best for you: habitatpwc.org. (more…)

‘The accused assaulted the victim and grabbed her by the neck’

From Prince William County police:

Strangulation | Brandishing a Firearm – On August 2 at 3:05 p.m., officers responded to a residence located in the 7000 block of Lakota Drive in Woodbridge to investigate an assault involving weapons. The investigation revealed the victim, a 31-year-old woman, and the accused, an acquaintance, were involved in a verbal altercation, which escalated physically.

During the encounter, the accused assaulted the victim and, at one point, grabbed her by the neck. The victim was eventually able to separate from the accused. The accused then retrieved a firearm and pointed it towards the victim. The accused also broke property inside the home including the victim’s cell phone.

When the accused left the home briefly, the victim was able to lock the door and contact police. Officers arrived and detained the accused without further incident. Minor injuries were reported. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as Cristian Alexander PLEITEZ-CORTEZ, was arrested. (more…)

Time is running out for summer reading, but it’s not too late

Time is running out, but it’s not too late!

Explore Summer Reading 2017

With school just around the corner, it is time to dust off those thinking caps and get ready to learn. But don’t do it alone, stop by your closest Prince William Public Library branch and score some fun prizes while getting back in the groove.

In less than six visits (YES, six visits), you will have the opportunity to win some amazing food coupons, free books and be entered to win a brand-new flip laptop (for kids) or a Beats Pill by Dre® (for young adults).  Either visit pwcgov.org/summerreading or head on over to any Prince William Public Library branch to sign up. Once you have your passport (for kids) or punch card (for young adults), just tell us what you’re reading each time you visit the library and watch the stamps and punches roll in.

Don’t worry, adults, because you can participate in Explore Summer Reading, too! You don’t even have to register. Whenever you come into the library, fill out an entry form with the name of a book you’ve read. We will hold a drawing for a Target gift card at each of our eleven branches each week for all nine weeks of summer reading. (more…)

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