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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We hope 2018 brings you peace and prosperity, and we’re glad you make Potomac Local a part of your daily local news routine. 

In case you missed it, here’s a look back at the most-read posts on Potomac Local in 2017. 

And, for a trip down memory lane, here are links to the most-read posts on this site broken out by year. It dates back to when we started Potomac Local in 2o10.

2016: Prince William police officer killed the first day on the job

2015: The year of the brewpub

2014: K-Mart closing, road rage stabbing 

2013: Shooting on Quantico base gains national attention 

2012: The great derecho blows through, Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center to alter the landscape

2011: Wild weather: wildfires, neighborhood landslide, tropical storm flooding

2010: Shooter takes aim at Marine Corps museum 

 

Pedestrian stuck and killed while trying to cross Hoadly Road

From police: 

Fatal Crash Investigation – On December 28 at 6:55AM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the area of Hoadly Rd near Galveston Ct in Manassas (20112) to investigate a pedestrian involved crash. The investigation revealed the driver of a 2012 Toyota Camry was traveling northbound on Hoadly when the vehicle collided with a pedestrian, identified as an adult woman, who was attempting to cross Hoadly Rd between Galveston Ct and Apollo Dr. The pedestrian was transported to an area hospital where she died as a result of her injuries from the collision. The driver of the Toyota remained at the scene. At the time of the collision, the pedestrian was not in a designated crosswalk. No charges have been placed at this time. The investigation continues.

                Identified:

                The driver of the Toyota Camry was identified as a 31-year-old woman of Woodbridge

                The pedestrian was identified as Juanita Nettina MENEFEE, 52, of Woodbridge

Recovered firearms stolen from Stafford and Prince William counties

From a press release:

Deputies with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office responded to a motor vehicle accident on Tuesday which led to the arrest of a wanted man and the recovery of stolen firearms.

On December 26, 2017, deputies responded to a motor vehicle accident in the area of Route 1 and Route 610. Upon arrival, deputies discovered the passenger of the vehicle, identified as Ishmeal McGriff, 20, was wanted out of Spotsylvania and Prince William Counties.

A subsequent search of the suspect and the vehicle revealed a substance consistent with marijuana and two firearms. Initially, McGriff said he purchased the firearms in Woodbridge, but later admitted to stealing them from unlocked motor vehicles in Stafford and Prince William Counties.

McGriff told deputies that he stole firearms and credit cards with Jaquon Bowles, 18, who was later taken into custody at his residence. Bowles was incarcerated at Rappahannock Regional Jail with no bond on charges of grand larceny, credit card theft, tampering with a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and conspiracy to commit credit card fraud.

McGriff was also incarcerated at Rappahannock Regional Jail and held on no bond. He is charged with grand larceny, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana, and receiving stolen goods.

Two arrested on child neglect charges

From Prince William police: 

Lucca

Felony Child Neglect – On December 22 at 5:17PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 7600 block of Yellow Lily Dr in Manassas (20109) to investigate a custody dispute. When officers arrived, they attempted to make contact with the accused. After multiple attempts at the front door, officers located an unsecured door to the rear of the home. Officers entered the home after hearing a small child crying inside and getting no response from the accused who was believed to be inside. The accused was found inside the home asleep and intoxicated. Officers attempted to wake the accused several times. The accused was unable to keep her head up or eyes open. Due to her high level of intoxication, the accused was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The child, a 5-month-old baby girl, was not injured. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as Andrea Jean LUCCA, was arrested. The child was released into the custody of a family member.

Arrested on December 22:

Andrea Jean LUCCA, 35, of the 7600 block of Yellow Lily Dr in Manassas

Charged with felony child neglect

Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held on a $2,000 secured bond

 

Martinez

Felony Child Neglect – On December 17 at 2:00AM, officers responded to a residence located in the 13600 block of Charles Ct in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a domestic. The investigation revealed the accused was not properly caring for her child, a 3-month-old baby girl. The child was determined to have been left unattended by the accused on more than one occasion and unkempt and potentially unsafe living conditions. The investigation also revealed the accused may have been smoking marijuana in close proximity to the child. The victim was not injured. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as Sindi Mabel MARTINEZ MEJIA, was arrested. Child Protective Services responded to the scene and released the child into the custody of a caretaker.

Arrested on December 17:

Sindi Mabel MARTINEZ MEJIA, 23, of the 13600 block of Charles Ct in Woodbridge

Charged with 2 counts of felony child neglect

Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

Here are the most read stories on Potomac Local in 2017

10. Driver killed in I-95 wrong-way crash 

A driver was killed on October 12 when he entered Interstate 95 headed in the wrong direction.

9. Mapledale fatal motorcycle crash

On February 18, we reported on a motorcyclist who was killed while riding on Mapledale Avenue.

8. Heroin seizure in Aquia Harbour 

On October 23, we were told about a large heroin seizure that took place following a drug overdose at Aquia Harbour.

7. Two fights at Downtown Manassas bars

On January 30, we were told of the arrest of two people in connection with two separate fights at as many bars in Downtown Manassas.

6. Stafford deputy frees captive woman 

On September 15, we were told a Stafford County Sheriff’s Deputy approached a truck in a commuter parking lot and found a woman who was being held against her will.

5. Social media fight search 

Police began a search for a 19-year-old woman following an argument on social media.

4. Farm Brew Live prepares to open

On February 22, we reported (the then) soon to open Farm Brew Live project was moving along and had planned to hire 100 employees. 

3. Civil War Weekend canceled 

On August 18, Manassas officials said the annual Civil War Weekend would be canceled following violent and deadly protests in Charlottesville. 

2. Clint Gaskins dies following police pursuit 

On August 6, police pursued 36-year-old Clint Gaskins, of Lake Ridge, during a chase on Interstates 395 and 95. Gaskins was killed when the motorcycle he was riding ran off the road.

1. Security guard stabbed to death at Potomac Mills

On March 4, two loss prevention employees approached a man they suspected of shoplifting outside of a Burlington Coat Factory at Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge. 

The man stabbed to death one of the employees

Serve Our Willing Warriors Executive Director steps down

Serve Our Willing Warriors Executive Director Jeffery Sapp announced today he will step down by the end of the year. 

Sapp has served in the executive director role for one year. He told Potomac Local today his departure was a mutual decision between him and the charity’s board of directors. 

Sapp sent this email detailing his resignation on Wednesday morning: 

Having helped Serve Our Willing Warriors navigate challenges inherent to organization change. Having been part of aligning us for doing even better at supporting Wounded, Ill, or Injured Warriors and their families and caregivers. And having fulfilled the terms of my contract, I am stepping aside as Executive Director effective December 31, 2017.

To promote continuity, Board Member Mark Shaaber has agreed to serve as Interim Executive Director.

We’ve had an amazing year. It’s been an honor and a pleasure working with and learning from the Board of Directors, Advisory Board, staff, Volunteers, supporters, and others. Their–your–individual and collective spirit, generosity, and commitment to raising the bar of excellence and increasing mission success are the bedrock of our accomplishments.

Sapp said he achieved his major goal of breaking ground this month on the construction of three new homes to house wounded warriors at the charity’s Haymarket-area campus.

The charity’s board of directors followed Sapp’s email with this: 

On behalf of the Board of Directors of SOWW,  I would like to thank you for your contributions to SOWW.  Duly noted is the incredible work you displayed with the recent Groundbreaking Ceremony of our new home with PenFed Credit Union and PenFed Foundation.  The success of this effort along with many others reflect great credits upon you and the passion you have for our warriors and their families.  

Sapp said he plans to remain living in the area following his departure from the charity and work as a consultant and work on his motivational speaking business. 

The Bee Store opens at Tacketts Mill

From an email: 

“We are a brick and mortar retail store specializing in Beekeeping Equipment and Honey Bee Boutique Items. Our goal is to supply everyone from the beginning, backyard beekeeper to the experienced, master beekeeper with the supplies they need to hone their skills in the bee yard. In addition to a full line of Mann Lake Ltd Beekeeping Supplies, we are also stocking the complete catalog of Sweet Sophia LLC products, such as lip balms, sunscreen, deodorant, artisanal soaps, lotions, salves, candles and much more. All handmade by The Bee Store family. Lastly, we will be stocking an ever-evolving quantity of Boutique items for all the bee lovers out there such as stickers, pins, jewelry, notebooks, posters, mugs, keychains, t-shirts, socks, baby clothes, pillows, shoes and much, much more. We hope you’ll fly by to say hi as we’d love to meet the community and spread the bee love buzz!”

The countdown to 2018 is officially on

https://potomaclocal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017-12-27-Celebrate-the-New-Year-with-Family-Fun.pdf

Sentara in step with the community, creates foot and ankle program

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is pleased to introduce the Foot & Ankle Program at Sentara.  

The Program partners highly skilled physicians with state-of-the-art procedures, so patients will have a pathway to receive the right care for their foot and ankle health concerns, all while staying close to home for treatment.

The physicians which support the Foot & Ankle Program at Sentara perform a multitude of procedures, from ankle replacements and pediatric flat foot reconstructions to trailblazing minimally-invasive Subchondroplasty® Procedures which use stem cells and a liquid bone material to fill internal fractures and lesions. These high-tech procedures allow a shorter recovery which means less pain, fewer follow up appointments and less time away from work, ensuring patients can get back to their lives sooner.

“We’re really excited and honored to be working with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center to provide this level of care to patients,” says Dr. Vincent Bonini, Doctor of Podiatry Medicine, F.A.C.F.A.S.

Dr. Bonini is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. He and his team have been based in Prince William County for the last 25 years. While the group treats traditional aliments, the field of podiatry has grown.

“We’ve become a very specific subset of orthopedics, at this point. Our roots are in the bunions and hammer toes, but with the advent of newer technology, we’ve really branched out to all phases of orthopedics as it relates to foot and ankle,” explains Dr. Bonini.

Pain or injury in your foot or ankle can keep you from activities you enjoy. It may even be keeping you from simply walking. With 26 bones in each foot and 7 bones in each ankle, it can often be complicated to determine what is actually creating the pain. When conservative measures such as rest, anti-inflammatories or physical therapy are not offering relief, it’s probably time to see a specialist.

Whether it’s pain due to a chronic condition such as diabetes or arthritis, a congenital deformity, an overuse fracture, or an accidental/work related injury, our team will be able to connect you to the care you need, with both outpatient and inpatient services.

Dr. Bonini says foot and ankle discomfort and injuries shouldn’t keep you from activities you enjoy, “Don’t live with the pain, we can help right away.”

To be connected to the Foot & Ankle Program at Sentara or to find a podiatrist, call 1-800-SENTARA or search ‘Find a Provider’ at Sentara.com.

Dumfries has its eye on a series of ‘nuisance’ homes facing possible demolition

The Dumfries Town Council will hold a series of public hearings at 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 3, to address buildings they have identified as unsafe or a nuisance to the community. 

The identified buildings are located at: 

17679 Main St, Dumfries

17685 Main St, Dumfries

17695 Main St, Dumfries

17703 Main St, Dumfries

17733 Main St, Dumfries

Here’s the full text of a posted public notice from the town: 

The Town Council of the Town of Dumfries hereby gives notice of a public hearing in which Town Council will determine whether the residence located at 17733 Main St, Dumfries, Virginia (hereinafter the “Structure”) is a nuisance or a danger to the safety of the owner, the occupant or the public pursuant to Dumfries Town Code Sections 26-172 and 26-174.

The Town Council will conduct a public hearing prior to making a determination about the unsafe or hazardous conditions of a Structure pursuant to Dumfries Town Code 26-175. If after the public hearing Town Council determines that the Structure constitutes a nuisance or danger, Council plans to adopt an ordinance declaring the Structure to be a nuisance, and Council can order the removal, demolition, repair or securing of the Structure in question. See Dumfries Town Code 26-176.

If the owner fails to comply with Council’s Order, the Town is authorized to cause the Structure to be removed, repaired, or secured and cause any hazardous conditions at the property to be abated and charge the expense to the Owner. Pursuant to the Town Code §§ 26-177, 26-178, every charge assessed against the Owner, if unpaid, shall constitute a lien against the property of the Owner of the Structure and that lien shall rank on parity with liens for unpaid taxes and shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided in the Code of Virginia, Title 58.1, Chapter 39, Articles 3 and 4. The Town is also authorized to seek a civil penalty against the owner of up to $1,000.00.

All supporting material is available for public inspection at the Office of the Town Clerk at 17755 Main Street, Dumfries, Virginia 22026 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The public hearing is being held in a public facility believed to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Any person with questions on accessibility of the facility or needing to discuss accommodations of a disability should contact the Town Clerk at (703) 221-3400 or dhobgood@dumfriesva.gov during normal business hours.

The structures date back as far as 1920.

Opening date set for Lidl Woodbridge grocery store

Lidl will open its second store in Prince William County. A grand opening ceremony is planned next month. 

From a press release: 

On Thursday, January 11, customers in Woodbridge, Virginia, will have the opportunity to experience Lidl when its newest location opens that day. The new store, located at 2070 Tacketts Village Square, will open at 8:00 a.m., immediately following a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:40 a.m. This will be Lidl’s fourth store in Northern Virginia. 

Since launching its first stores in Virginia on June 15th, Lidl has driven prices down in the neighborhoods in which it operates stores.  In many markets,  other retailers have reacted by slashing prices by as much as 30 percent in the immediate vicinity of Lidl stores in order to compete.

Lidl opened its first store in the Washington area in September in Prince William County, at the intersection of Sudley Manor Drive and Ashton Avenue near Manassas. 

This month, the company announced plans to scale back the size of its planned stores from 36,000 square feet to as small as 15,000. The company also withdrew plans for a store in Warrenton

Lidl also operates stores in south Stafford County on Route 17, and in Culpeper. 

Here’s how to use OmniRide to get the region’s airports

We told you this week that tickets for Virginia’s new passenger bus service “The Breeze” between Virginia Tech, Dulles Airport, and other parts of Northern Virginia sold out

One of the commenters asked why OmniRide couldn’t also provide direct service to Dulles Airport. 

So we asked, and spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo responded: 

The Breeze is a great addition to the communities it serves, and PRTC is happy to see that it’s having a positive impact on ridesharing!

While PRTC does not currently offer direct trips to area airports, our Metro Direct routes do provide airport connections.

  • The Prince William Metro Direct route links eastern Prince William County with the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, where passengers can catch a Metro train to Reagan National Airport.
  • The Manassas Metro Direct and Linton Hall Metro Direct routes link Manassas and Gainesville, respectively, with the Tysons Corner Metro Station. There, passengers can ride a Metro train to the Wiehle-Reston station and then hop on a connecting bus service to Washington Dulles airport.

While we do not currently have plans to add direct trips to the airports, PRTC has begun work on its Transit Development Plan (TDP) which will include a consideration of potential new services. With the Express Lanes being built on I-66 and congestion issues on Route 28, service in those corridors will be an area of focus for the TDP.

From chronic pain to gain: ‘Becky has already lost 92 pounds and dropped more than three sizes’

Becky Turner- before pic
becky turner - after pic
Rezvani, Masoud

Prince William County resident Becky Turner had been living in pain for years.

“I had been to surgeons all over the area trying to get some relief. It was to the point where I had to use a wheelchair a lot of the time. At the very least, I had to use a walker,” explains the 62-year-old.

As her crippling back pain increased, so did her weight.

“Everyone said, there was nothing they could do for me,” she remembers.

Until her primary care physician suggested gastric bypass surgery, sharing how another patient received relief after undergoing the procedure. From there, an idea was born.

“I thought about it for a while and I thought, let’s see what’s involved,” says Turner.

That’s when she met Dr. Masoud Rezvani and the team at the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery Center, a designated Accredited Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP.) Her insurance said it would pay for the procedure, but Turner would have to undergo testing and complete a six-month dietary weight loss class.

After the class was completed, the insurance company gave the okay. Because Becky was a diabetic with an insulin pump, the decision was made to perform a Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch, also known as BPD-DS, using minimally invasive robotic surgery. Dr. Rezvani is one of the only gastric bypass surgeons in Northern Virginia, who performs this complicated procedure.  

“It’s very important to have the right procedure for the right patient,” explains Dr. Rezvani, “Every individual is a different package. Based on the patients’ age, gender, body mass index, past medical history, past surgical history and goal of the operation is going to determine what works best.”

In a BDP-DS operation, doctors reroute the intestines, which cuts back on how many calories a patient can absorb. As a result, patients feel less hungry, lose most of their excess weight within one year and keep the weight off, all while having significant health improvements.

“This surgery isn’t for everyone,” Dr. Rezvani says, “It requires a lot of maintenance. Not only is there a weight loss effect, there’s a metabolic effect which helps patients with conditions such as severe diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.”

For Becky, who was having issues managing her diabetes, it was a good fit. Her main concern going into her September surgery wasn’t the procedure, but the pain that could accompany it. It was something doctors worked with her to manage. “I never had the first bit of pain,” she says, “I don’t know if I’m the exception to the rule, but it was a good experience for me all the way around. Everyone was wonderful to me. All the nurses just went out of their way to be nice. I just adore Dr. Rezvani.”

In just three months since her surgery, Becky has already lost 92 pounds and dropped more than three sizes. “I’m shocked it’s coming off as quickly as it has,” and her back which had been in constant pain is already feeling better, “Though it’s not 100% yet, it’s about 70%. I can go and do stuff again. I can help with yard work,” she says smiling.

Becky is off her insulin pump and now taking insulin shots just twice a day. Her hope is, when she loses a little more weight, her diabetes will go into remission. She’s also is looking forward to becoming more active with her rescue pups, “Penny” and “Peanut.”

“Before my back really started hurting, I used to walk 5 miles each day. And I felt great. So, it has been about 6 or 7 years since I felt this good. I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” says Turner.

As she prepares to lace up her tennis shoes for those walks, she says she would recommend this procedure to anyone looking to change their life, “I would tell them to go for it, especially if you’re in pain. What do you have to lose? I was at a point where I was in so much pain, I was so unhappy, I didn’t have a life. And I thought –I’ve got to give this a try.”

Surgery isn’t for everyone. To learn if you qualify, head over to sentaranova.com, where you can watch our informational videos to discover if weight loss surgery is right for you. Or you can call 1-800-SENTARA to learn more.

Pictured: Becky before, Becky after, Dr. Dr. Rezvani

Prince William County school teacher Atif Qarni named Virginia Education Secretary 

A Prince William County School teacher will be Virginia’s next Secretary of Education. 

Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam came to Beville Middle School in Dale City about 1:30 p.m. Thursday to announce Atif Qarni, an 8th-grade civics teacher at the school, would oversee the state’s education department. 

It is very important to me that we have a secretary of education in the Commonwealth of Virginia that understands the classroom,” said Northam. Someone who knows K-12 education and has a vision of where to take K-12 in the coming years”

A Marine, educated at George Washington and George Mason University, Qarni has long been active in local politics. In 2013, he challenged Bob Marshall for the 13th District House of Delegates seat, soon to be held by Danica Roem. Two years later, he ran and lost in a Primary Election against State Senator Jeremy McPike, who went on to win the General Election against Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish.

Northam, a pediatrician, says career development for teachers and addressing overcrowded classrooms — of which Prince William County has the most overcrowded classrooms in the Washingon, D.C. region — are top priorities for his education office. 

Qarni received a phone call on Wednesday telling him he had been selected for the job after a two-week interview process. It is a job the 8th-grade teacher applied for because he feels he can use his experience from the classroom to make positive changes in Richmond.

“I’m looking forward to using the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years as a classroom teacher,” he said.

His students gathered in the library of the school where Northam stood at a podium to make the announcement. They all cheered when they saw their teacher be recognized by the incoming governor. 

Qarni helped to organize a candlelight vigil for 15-year-old Ruben Urbina outside Prince William County Government Center in October. Urbina was shot and killed by Prince William police after police said he wielded a three-foot-long crowbar at them and ignored commands to drop the weapon.

Qarni has also organized multiple mock elections for students at Beville Middle School in an effort to impress upon students the importance of civic participation.

OmniRide aims to rebrand, improve image

 

Commuter bus agency to drop PRTC moniker

There’s OmniRide. That’s the commuter bus service that each weekday takes people from Prince William County and Manassas to Arlington and Washington, D.C. and then back again.

Then there’s OmniLink. Those are the local buses that serve stops within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

OmniMatch is a commuter ride-finding service.

And, it all falls under the umbrella of one of the longest agency names in the region: The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission commonly referred to as PRTC.

Confused?

Prince William County’s transportation agency, PRTC, recognizes it has an identity crisis. And it’s doing something about it.

The agency is undergoing what Executive Director Robert “Bob” Schneider called a “brand renewal strategy.” The commuter bus service plans to ditch “PRTC” and instead be known simply as “OmniRide,” putting it in line with other area transportation agencies with one-name monikers like Fredericksburg’s “Fred,” Alexandria’s “DASH,” and Metro.

“We want to take a look at how to do we make ourselves more approachable and accessible to the community,” said Schneider.

It’s part of an overall effort to make the transit agency more of a commuter bus company, but more of a transit leader for the region, which could pave the way for its involvement in the future of ridesharing, or slugging, and a long-proposed Potomac River commuter ferry in Woodbridge.

The overall image of OmniRide would, hopefully, be one where the public no longer sees the agency as a drain on public resources but a partner in economic growth for the region.

Long known for its teal buses, new OmniRide buses could become a shade of green and blue. Its logo is expected to be modified, and it’s website updated.

As part of the rebranding, OmniRide wants to be known for:

  • Taking cars off Interstates 95 and 66
  • Being problem solvers
  • The people who get people to work and home faster
  • Providers of high-quality customer service

And since most products and services must have a tagline, OmniRide’s is “Get There Smarter.” That’s a change from the current slogan “The Ride That’s Right For You.” 

Schneider, who is relatively new to the transit agency, say’s he’d like to turn his 45-foot long commuter buses into billboards using a new color scheme to promote his agencies services.

The grey bus stop signs the dot roads in the county would also be updated. 

“Go and look at any of our bus stop signs and what do they say? ‘Bus stop.’ That’s it. There’s an opportunity to use those signs to brand us better,” said Schneider. 

Not everyone on the PRTC Board of Commissioners is excited.

“Do you think we should serve chocolate chip cookies, too?” quipped Jeanine Lawson, who sits on the Commission and also serves as the Prince William County Brenstville District Supervisor.

As OmniRide looks to transform its image, it also looks to consolidate its dispatch operations, and fix what it calls inefficiencies and redundancies by eliminating 12 jobs from the PRTC payroll and instead contract those positions to the company already contracted to drive OmniRide buses, First Transit, Inc.

In the midst of all of this, however, a letter obtained by the PRTC Board of Commissioners but not released claiming workplace discrimination has slowed the transformation process. This month, Commissioners said it could be February before an investigation into those claims is complete.

Sudley Road 3rd lane: ‘I believe that this would be wrong to do for a number reasons’

Dear Potomac Local,
I’d like to share some thoughts with you regarding an item on tonight’s council agenda: the [approved] change in scope of the Sudley Road third lane project

Basic background:  The existing plan is to widen north-bound Sudley Road to add a third travel/turn lane from in front of the diner across from the hospital to the existing three-lane segment just past Godwin Drive AND to underground the utilities along that stretch.  I fully support the scope of the project according to the existingplan as approved by Council in the adopted Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
 
What staff is proposing is to take the money that had been programmed for the utility undergrounding and, instead, use it to widen an additional segment of Sudley Road.  The proposal is to also widen the north-bound segment of Sudley Road to add a third travel/turn lane from Grant Avenue (in front of St Thomas United Methodist Church) to Stonewall Road (in front of the Post Office).
 
I believe that this would be wrong to do for a number reasons:
  • It would represent a very significant and abrupt change from the project that has been in the CIP as currently designed, to include utility undergrounding, since the year 2000, and which has been vetted, and recommended/approved by the CIP Committee of the Planning Commission, the full Planning Commission, the Land Use Committee, and the City Council.
  • Staff presents no facts or analysis to support the conclusion that reprogramming the state funds to utilize them for widening the additional segment, instead of executing the existing plans, is a preferable alternative.  The agenda statement includes no facts or analysis whatsoever.  
  • There is no demonstrated need for the widening along the additional segment based on any identified traffic congestion or evaluated vehicular level of service (LOS) issues. 
  • Widening Sudley Road to three lanes along the additional segment would very adversely affect the aesthetics of that important gateway corridor and result in the loss of what is now both an effective and attractive transitional segment between the commercial and residential areas along Sudley Road.  Precious green space that currently exists in the strip between Sudley Road and the parallel service road would be lost, and with it the opportunity to plant street trees when the overhead utilities along that segment are ultimately relocated underground.
  • Undergrounding of overhead utilities, especially along our gateway corridors, is one of the most effective ways to positively differentiate Manassas aesthetically from surrounding jurisdictions.  The staff proposal would replace this desirable improvement with what seems to be an unnecessary or undesirable project.  
  • The proposed change in scope of the project does not identify any alternative plan or funding source to achieve undergrounding of the NOVEC overhead power lines as provided for in the existing scope of the project.  Given that the NOVEC lines are outside the city, it may be that the only way for the city to achieve undergrounding of those lines is in conjunction with a state-funded transportation project like we have in the existing plan.  We should not throw away this opportunity. 
  • The process by which staff seeks to make this change lacks transparency and adequate public input.  The proposed change was not reviewed by the CIP Committee of the Planning Commission, or the full Planning Commission.  It was not reviewed by the City Council Land Use Committee.  The proposed resolution prepared by city staff states that “the public involvement process is complete and all resulting comments have been addressed, as needed,” but given that I heard no mention of it prior to it being included on the council agenda distributed on Friday, it is hard to understand how that could be so.  
  • If there is a demonstrated need for widening the additional segment, then the city always has the option to do so in the future by following the routine and uniform process by which projects are included in the CIP, a process that is understood by the public, is transparent, and is inclusive of all stakeholders.  There is no need to rush to abandon the existing plan that has been on the books for 17 years. 

-Steve Hersch, Manassas

 

Marumsco Mobile Home Park residents get needed help to comply with zoning regulations

 

From Habitat for Humanity Prince William County:

“FIFTY-NINE volunteer spots were filled by 39 volunteers over four days last week to help residents of Marumsco Mobile Home Park comply with zoning regulations by a mid-December deadline. We’ll learn by the end of the week whether we were 100% successful at keeping the residents from receiving criminal citations (and we think we were)!
We will return to the community this Friday to do demo work that is needed at one home that was in the midst of zoning approval. And we’ll return again after Christmas to build sheds outside of the flood plain. Please sign up to help or to bring lunch for the volunteers!
Take a look at the slide show to see the volunteers at work last week. Sign up to volunteer after Christmas on our Volunteer Calendar. We’re planning for 12/22, 12/29, 12/30, 1/4, 1/5, and 1/6. 
We’ve raised the funds to buy 12 sheds but have now received approval to build 22. Can you help us get there? Our new goal to purchase 10 more sheds is $3,000!”
Background: 

A concerned citizen notified officials in the Prince William County zoning office that they felt there were building violations in the Marumsco Mobile Home Park. Because the County had received a complaint, they were obligated to investigate. In the end, the County levied 39 citations in the community of 45 homes. The violations were ones that had occurred primarily out of necessity…structures were added over the years that made the residents living arrangements more suitable to their family size or provided storage for the tools of their livelihoods. However, in many cases the structures were added after the flood plain was designated. And they were not allowable in the flood plain.

Families facing criminal charges

The County had to issue citations for the removal of the structures. Most of the violations were taken care of by the home owner’s themselves but a few residents needed help. Others are just at a loss for what to do as the additional space is vitally needed to make living in the community justifiable. Yet, anyone who hadn’t abated the violations by mid-December faced potential criminal violations with up to $2,500 in fines per occurrence or even possibly jail time

The response came about because (Woodbridge Distirct Supervisor) Frank Prinicipi pulled together several groups including us, Grace Lutheran Church, the Woodbridge Workers Committee, VOICE, residents of the community and government officials.

The result was that Habitat led the volunteer groups and many members of the faith community, a contingent from the 45+ Social and Active Meetup Group, employees from the Peterson Companies, regular Habitat volunteers, new volunteers and residents worked over the four days. It was sad to have to do the work but the responders were compassionate and hard-working.

 

Occoquan staple ‘The Golden Goose’ closing after the holidays

From Facebook: 

OCCOQUAN’S GOLDEN GOOSE WILL BE CLOSING AND PAT & LAVERNE ARE RETIRING . This has been such a difficult decision as we have such fun knowing our customers and in an “old fashioned shop way”, having time to talk and enjoy each of you. The thing we will miss the most is good conversation, discussing how to display your Dept. 56 villages, which Byers’ Caroler would be best in your display and finding just the right ornament for your family….by the way this year’s most interesting request for an ornament was “a brain”….no, that one we didn’t have.

We have had the pleasure of living the dream of running a successful small business for 42 years.

Beginning Monday, December 18th the entire shop will be 30% off

There are no restrictions…all current Department 56, Byers’ Choice Carolers, Mark Roberts Fairies, Santas, Nativities, Fontanini, Halloween, Ornaments and on and on – everything! (Please note Retired Dept. 56 will remain at 40% off). 
Shortly we will also be selling all fixtures, glass shelving, props, antiques, etc. and will make the announcement through this Newsletter.

We hope you will come by to visit us – we anticipate we will close our doors for a final time in late February or early March….

-Pat & LaVerne

OWL VFD responds to Woodbridge condominium fire

From Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department: 

Woodbridge, VA December 18, 2017 — 6:50 p.m. Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters were called to a condo fire at 12705 Dara Drive

Crews arrived on scene within minutes and reported a small fire in condo #104. The fire was out in less than 10 minutes and was contained to the kitchen. 

Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Dale City VFD, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, and Dumfries-Triangle VFD responded to the incident. 

No injuries were reported. 

OWL VFD is one of the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with almost 300 members. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24/7 holidays and weekends. 

 

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