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Woodbridge Senior High School is hosting a multicultural night

From an email: 

Hello! I am writing to inform you that Woodbridge Senior High School is hosting a multicultural night on March 9th from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Multicultural Night is a celebration of all the international flavors of Woodbridge Senior High School. Did you know that Woodbridge students speak more than 50 different languages at home?

This annual event showcases our diverse backgrounds, and gives students an opportunity to explore the world – while traveling the halls of Woodbridge! When the doors open participants receive a glimpse of a variety of cultures through booths set up at the entrance.

They are then escorted into the auditorium, where the event officially kicks off with a “Parade of Nations,” followed by special cultural performances done by our students. Participants are then directed towards our upper and lower cafeterias to experience our “Taste of Nations,” including unique dishes from all parts of the world.

Lastly, the fashion show, featuring traditional styles worn in the cultures featured throughout the night, concludes the event. 

Jewelry, handguns, rifle stolen, suspects arrested

From the Prince William police press release:

Residential Burglary *ARRESTS – On February 6, detectives with the Property Crimes Unit identified two of the suspects involved in a burglary to a residence located in the 1700 block of Potomac View Ave in Woodbridge on February 3. Further investigation determined that a family member of the victim, identified as a 17-year-old female juvenile, conspired with an acquaintance, identified as Melvin Higinio ALVARENGA-RODRIGUEZ, to steal the items reported missing. Following the investigation, detectives with the Property Crimes Unit arrested the suspects without incident. None of the firearms stolen have been recovered. The investigation continues.

Arrested on February 6:

Melvin Higinio ALVARENGA-RODRIGUEZ, 20, of no fixed address

Charged with grand larceny of a firearm, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and possession of a firearm

    Court Date: March 15, 2018 | Bond: Held WITHOUT bond   

    A 17-year-old female juvenile of Woodbridge

    Charged with grand larceny of a firearm

Court Date: Pending | Status: Held at a Juvenile Detention facility

Residential Burglary [Previously Released] – On February 3 at 5:00PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 1700 block of Potomac View Ave in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a burglary. A resident of the home reported to police that the burglary occurred between 2:30PM and 10:30PM on February 2. The investigation revealed that entry was made into the residence through a window. Jewelry and a safe containing five handguns and a rifle were reported missing.

Bristow man charged with shooting through wall, neighbor’s bedrooms

From the Prince William police press release:

Reckless Handling of a Firearm – On February 6 at 12:30PM, officers responded to a townhome located in the 8800 block of Moat Crossing Pl in Bristow (20136) to investigate a shooting. The investigation revealed that the accused was cleaning his handgun when he allegedly inadvertently discharged a round that traveled through the wall and passed through two unoccupied bedrooms of the neighboring townhome before landing on the floor. No injuries were reported. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested.

Arrested February 6:

Paul Richard ELLER, 69, of 8859 Moat Crossing Pl in Bristow

Charged with reckless handling of a firearm

Court Date: March 20, 2018 | Bond: Released on a $2,500 unsecured bond

House vote aims to disassemble ‘school-to-prison pipeline’

Capital News Service tells us the Va. House of Delegates doesn’t want year-long school suspensions, with some exceptions. Here’s the press release:

House OKs Limiting School Suspensions to 45 Days

By Kirby Farineau

Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Virginia students who break school rules may no longer face the possibility of a yearlong suspension under legislation approved by the House of Delegates to address what some lawmakers call the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

House Bill 1600, which passed 84-15 on Tuesday, would reduce the maximum length of a suspension from 364 days to 45 days. It is one of several measures lawmakers introduced in response to complaints that Virginia schools overreact to minor infractions – and sometimes charge students as criminals for transgressions that should draw a detention.

“At the end of the day, if our students are out of school, they’re not learning,” said the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Del. Jeffrey Bourne, who previously served on the Richmond School Board. “We should not continue to use access to education as a punishment and expect positive results.”

On its way toward passage, the bill was amended to allow school officials to impose a suspension of up to 364 days if “aggravating circumstances exist” or if the student is a repeat offender.

Del. R. Lee Ware Jr., R-Powhatan, said he historically had reservations about limiting schools’ options in disciplining students. However, he called HB 1600 “a responsible middle course.”

“It allows a considerable amount of latitude to educators with the responsibility of maintaining order in schools,” Ware said.

HB 1600 was among a slew of proposals introduced this legislative session to address how Virginia schools discipline students. In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Virginia has one of the highest rates in the nation for referring students to law enforcement. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William, has called the situation “the No. 1 civil rights issue of our modern time.”

Several of the bills never made it out of committee. They included:

  • HB 445, which sought to end a requirement that principals report certain misdemeanor crimes to law enforcement. The bill, proposed by Carroll Foy, was rejected in a 5-2 vote by a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee.
  • HB 296, which would have prohibited suspending or expelling students in preschool through third grade, except for violent crimes, drugs or other serious offenses. The House Education Committee voted 12-10 vote to kill the legislation. The bill was sponsored by the panel’s vice chairman, Del. Richard Bell, R-Staunton.

Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, opposed Bell’s measure, saying it would “make our classrooms less safe.”

“I don’t think it’s up to us to try to micromanage discipline issues in the local schools. That’s why we have local elected school boards,” Cole said.

While such legislation met opposition in the House, the Senate has been more receptive.

On Thursday, the Senate Education and Health Committee approved SB 170, which, like Bell’s legislation, would bar suspensions and expulsions in third grade and below. The committee voted 11-4 in favor of the measure. SB 170, sponsored by Sen. William Stanley, R-Franklin County, now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed SB 476, sponsored by Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania. Like Carroll Foy’s bill, it would give school principals the discretion not to call police on students who commit misdemeanors or other minor crimes.

Reeves’ measure has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Committee – the same panel whose subcommittee killed Carroll Foy’s proposal.

Heart breaker, hit maker? Uncool. Don’t text and drive.

Prince William police have issued a strong reminder. If you text and drive, you’re endangering lives. From the press release:
Do Not Be a Heartbreaker This Valentine’s Day: Text U l8er!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                           February 8, 2018

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA . . . This Valentine’s Day do not break your heart, or someone else’s, because you were texting and driving. Statistics show that distracted drivers, which include drivers who text or otherwise communicate on devices, are more likely to be involved in a traffic crash.

To help spread awareness of this dangerous behavior, the Prince William County Police Department reminds motorists about state laws on using mobile phones and personal communication devices while driving.

  • Did you know that under Virginia law, anyone under 18 years old is banned from using cell phones, or any other personal communication devices, while driving?
  • Did you know that texting is banned for all drivers? In Virginia, it is a primary offense, which means police officers can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving. The fine is $125 for the first offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses. Those fines are over and above the cost of the citation you will be issued.

    Reckless driving is a criminal violation in Virginia, unlike in most other states where it is a traffic infraction. Using mobile phones and other personal communications devices while driving can fall under the category of reckless driving.

    This Valentine’s Day, the Prince William County Police Department asks that you obey the law. Do not endanger your own life or the lives of others; do not text and drive!

Overnight lane closures eastbound I-66 inside Beltway continue through March

If you’re planning to drive at night on I-66, here’s what you need to know. VDOT brings us this update.

FAIRFAX– Single lane closures will continue on eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway during overnight hours (weather permitting) through the end of March from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. The closures will occur between I-495 and Fairfax Drive (Route 237) to allow crews to safely perform survey and geotechnical investigation work related to the I-66 eastbound widening project. Additionally, intermittent shoulder closures are planned (weather permitting) from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Motorists should expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.

For specific dates, times, and locations associated with the lane and shoulder closures, and for real-time traffic information, please visit http://www.511virginia.org/.

The survey and geotechnical investigation work is needed prior to the start of construction that will add an additional through lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Exit 71) in Fairfax and Arlington counties. Other key project features include constructing a new bridge over Lee Highway for the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail and providing direct access from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station by constructing a new ramp connection between two existing ramps (eastbound I-66 to Route 7 and the eastbound I-66 collector-distributor road adjacent to the station’s parking garage).

The additional lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021. Find additional I-66 project information at http://inside.transform66.org/.

Updated: Help Prince William County Police Department find missing, endangered adult

From the Prince William police February 7, 2018 press release:

*MISSING ENDANGERED ADULT: The Prince William County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing and endangered adult, Christopher Luke AMMEN.  The investigation revealed Christopher walked away from his residence located in the 5800 block of Anthony Dr in Woodbridge around 8:00PM on February 6. Christopher left his residence voluntarily and may be in need of assistance which qualifies him as being endangered. Anyone with information on this person’s whereabouts is asked to call Prince William County police at 703-792-6500 or your local police department.

Christopher Luke AMMEN is described as a white male, 29 years of age, 5’08″, 215lbs with brown eyes and brown hair.

He was last seen wearing a black baseball hat, navy blue sweatshirt, blue jeans, and black shoes.

UPDATED February 8, s018

From the Prince William police:

*UPDATE: Christopher Luke AMMEN, who was reported as missing and endangered on February 7, has been located and is safe.

In Richmond, battle against ‘tampon tax’ rages on

From the press release:

Bill to Remove ‘Tampon Tax’ Clears First Hurdle

 By Tianna Mosby

Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Women’s rights advocates are applauding a legislative panel for advancing a bill that would remove the sales tax on pads, tampons and menstrual cups.

The House Finance subcommittee voted 7-1 Tuesday to recommend approval of HB 24 and sent it to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration. Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, voted against the bill.

“It should be part of a tax reform package,” she said.

Byron said she supports removing the sales tax; however, she would not consider feminine hygiene products eligible under the tax code. Virginia law states that medical products used to treat or prevent diseases can be tax-exempt. Byron said feminine hygiene products do not fall into that category.

Del. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, who sponsored the bill, said it’s not fair that both menstrual products and anti-dandruff shampoo are classified as medical supplies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but only the shampoo receives a tax exemption. Byron noted that menstruation is not a disease, but psoriasis – which anti-dandruff shampoo is used to prevent – is.

Still, the committee recommended that the bill advance after removing the line naming it “The Dignity Act” and changing its potential start date from July 31 to Jan. 1.

The sales tax is 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and 5.3 percent in the rest of the state. Removing the tax on feminine hygiene products, as nine other states have done, would cost the commonwealth about $5 million in lost revenues annually, officials say.

The House Finance subcommittee has yet to act on two other bills to remove the so-called “tampon tax”: HB 152 and HB 448. Nor has the panel voted on HB 25, which would include menstrual supplies among the items exempt from taxes during Virginia’s three-day, back-to-school “sales tax holiday” each August.

On Friday, a House Education subcommittee considered HB 1434, which would have required schools to provide students with feminine hygiene products for free. A motion to approve the bill failed on a 5-5 vote.



Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center gets heart healthy, urges people to ‘Know Your Numbers’

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in women.

The American Heart Association says 1 in 3 women dies from the disease, and that’s why February is American Heart Month.

Sadly, the news isn’t surprising to Dr. Aysha Arshad, Medical Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, “Women are often busy with day to day tasks, taking care of others, taking care of their family. They neglect their own health until things become much worse for them.”

Every day, Dr. Arshad sees women who have heart issues which haven’t been addressed, “The data for heart failure and women who suffer heart attacks show they come in much sicker and they’re much more difficult to treat because they’ve let so much time lapse.”

Part of the issue is women’s heart attack symptoms can differ from men’s, “They may not have crushing chest pains, they may have jaw or neck pain. Or maybe, be a little sweaty. Or perhaps, have a difference in exercise capacity,” explains Dr. Arshad.

The sooner a woman is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.

Dr. Arshad says knowledge is power and offers this advice, “Recognize the early symptoms for heart disease, be a good advocate for your own cardiovascular health, follow up with your doctor should you develop any of those symptoms and know there are newer technologies that have developed that are simpler, more efficient and cosmetically better.”

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is helping people in their mission to be heart healthy, to do that, we’re inviting people to “Know Your Numbers.” Individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and be overweight. Knowing your numbers is a crucial step in assessing your risk of developing heart disease, as many times there are no symptoms. This event includes complimentary screening of blood pressure, calculation of body mass index (BMI,) measurement of cholesterol and HbA1c levels (blood sugar) and an optional, pocket EKG screening is available for $20.

Registration is required. To register, call 1-800-SENTARA.

VA Senate unanimously supports medical marijuana expansion legislation

From the press release:

Virginia Likely to Expand Medical Marijuana

 By Fadel Allassan

Capital News Service

 RICHMOND – Virginia inched closer to greatly expanding medical marijuana use this week after legislation passed the Senate with unanimous support – three days after its companion bill was likewise approved by the House of Delegates.

SB 726, which passed 38-0 on Monday, would let doctors issue certifications for patients to use cannabis oil to treat the symptoms of diagnosed conditions or diseases. The House version of the bill – HB 1251 – passed 98-0 on Friday.

With similar bills approved in both chambers, the legislation appears likely to be headed to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat and physician, who has said he would sign such a measure into law.

Doctors in Virginia currently can issue medical marijuana certifications only to people with intractable epilepsy. If Northam signs the bill, the new law would let doctors issue certifications to treat any condition.

Both bills were a recommendation of Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care, which researches health policy options for the state.

The chief sponsors of SB 726 were Republican Sens. Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico and Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier and Democratic Sen. David Marsden of Fairfax. The chief sponsors of HB 1251 were Republican Dels. Ben Cline of Rockbridge and Glen Davis of Virginia Beach and Democratic Dels. Eileen Filler-Corn and Kaye Kory, both of Fairfax.

“The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature,” said Dunnavant, who also is a doctor. “Instead, it should be with physicians.”

Virginia is poised to join 29 other states that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three U.S. territories have a similar policy.

The legislation is considered a major victory for marijuana-law reform advocates.

“This will bring relief to thousands of Virginians suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease and PTSD,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of the marijuana law reform advocacy group, Virginia NORML. “We could not be happier with the unanimous passage of these bills.”

An April 2017 poll by Quinnipiac University indicated overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Virginia. About 94 percent of Virginian voters polled expressed support; 59 percent backed legalizing small amounts of the drug for recreational use.

Skateboard in the face wards off alleged knife threat

From the Prince William police press release:

Attempted Malicious Wounding – On February 6 at 8:41PM, officers responded to an apartment located in the 3500 block of Briarwood Dr in Dumfries (22026) to investigate an assault. The investigation revealed that the accused was drinking with several acquaintances when they were involved in a verbal altercation. During the encounter, the accused grabbed a knife and attempted to cut them. At some point, one of the acquaintances struck the accused on the face with a skateboard causing the accused to drop the knife. The parties eventually separated and the police were contacted. Minor injuries were reported by the accused. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as Gabriel Bond KUNU, was arrested without incident.

Arrested on February 6:

Gabriel Bond KUNU, 23, of 3510 Briarwood Dr, Apt 23, in Dumfries

    Charged with attempted malicious wounding

    Court Date: April 9, 2018| Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond



Manassas Airport accounts for 30 percent of statewide economic activity

The aviation industry is a major contributor to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The busiest general aviation airport in the Commonwealth happens to be Manassas Regional Airport. 

The City-owned airport boasts 400-based aircraft, two fixed-base operators, an FAA control tower and experiences roughly 90,000 takeoffs and landings a year. 

The City has long recognized Manassas Regional Airport as an asset and significant contributor to the City’s economic base.  A recent report by the Virginia Department of Aviation reinforces this impact.  

The Economic Impact Study included 57 general aviation and nine commercial airports in the Commonwealth.  It focuses on the economic benefits created by the businesses and tenants on Virginia’s airports, tourists and others who rely on their services to conduct business. 

The findings show that Manassas Regional Airport not only leads the industry in revenue generation but accounted for roughly 30% of the statewide $1.1 billion in economic activity in 2016. That equates to 1,351 aviation jobs, wages of $117,438,000 and generation of $375,492,000 in residual economic activity in Manassas. 

Glass smashed, golf clubs stolen at Montclair Country Club

From the Prince William police press release:

Commercial Burglary – On February 6 at 9:00AM, officers responded to the Montclair Country Club located at 16500 Edgewood Dr in Dumfries (22025) to investigate a burglary. Video surveillance revealed that an unknown man shattered a side glass window and door with a crowbar around 11:40PM on February 5. The suspect entered the business then fled the area in a dark colored 2010-2013 Chevrolet Camaro with a hood scoop and racing stripes. A golf bag containing eleven golf clubs was reported missing.   

Suspect Description:

    White male, between 30 & 35 years of age, 5’10”, 175lbs with a thin build, goatee and mustache

Last seen wearing a black hooded jacket, brown pants, brown boots, and black gloves

        Suspect Vehicle Description:

    A dark colored 2010-2013 Chevrolet Camaro with a hood scoop and racing stripes

‘Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge low-income students as much as $345 to take online classes and do not provide devices making online classes difficult’

The third week of the General Assembly brought action on about two dozen of my bills.

First, my two remaining bills to address education equity were unanimously recommended by the Education Subcommittee.  The first bill prohibits localities from requiring children to use “electronic textbooks” without providing students with devices to use such “books” at home.  Many children in the U.S. 1 Corridor do not have computers or broadband at home and our schools should not mandate electronic learning without providing devices.

My second bill requires school systems to waive all fees and provide computers to students who want to take online classes.  Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge low-income students as much as $345 to take online classes and do not provide devices making online classes difficult if not impossible for all students to utilize.  The bills will be considered by the Senate this week.

The General Laws Committee reported my bill creating a sanctions process for government officials who abuse the closed meeting process or destroy public records.  There have been at least six reported or attempted violations of the closed meetings law in the last two years and reports of local governments advising employees to delete emails to avoid public disclosure. 

Predatory lending was on the docket this week.  My bill to place a 36% cap on interest rates for loans made by licensed consumer finance companies and prohibit predatory internet lenders from using existing state licenses passed the Commerce and Labor Committee 12-2.  This is the first legislation to push back against predatory lending passed by this committee in eight years. 

Waze and Google Map driven neighborhood cut through traffic has been a source of significant complaints to my office – especially in Belle Haven, Occoquan and neighborhoods close to the interstates.  I introduced legislation that would authorize local governments to designate a small number of residential secondary roads as off-limits to electronic routing services like Waze and Google Maps and keep commuters out of neighborhoods.  The City of Alexandria was extremely supportive but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors opposed my legislation (Supervisors Storck and Foust supported).  Unfortunately, the bill died on a 6-6-1 vote in the Transportation Committee. 

My legislation to increase the required state auto insurance minimums for the first time since 1989 passed the Transportation Committee.  My bill would increase the required minimum property damage minimum insurance from $20,000 to $50,000.  Given the increased automobile prices, this is critical. 

Teen “sexting” has continued to create problems for parents, teachers, administrators, clergy, and most importantly children.  This year, I partnered with Senator Bill Stanley on legislation to classify such offenses as misdemeanors instead of either Felony Child Pornography Production or Possession.  This will allow schools, families, and counselors to take care of these issues informally instead of necessitating law enforcement consultations.  Our bill passed the Courts of Justice Committee and will be on the floor of the Senate this week.

Lastly, my legislation to impose a ban on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” passed the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and will be on the floor this week after being amended to a four-year moratorium.  A Texas company acquired leases to explore for natural gas on 84,000 acres of property on Virginia’s Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.  This area shares the same aquifer with over four million Virginians living east of Interstate 95 which must be protected.

Approximately a dozen of my bills have not been heard in committee yet including six coal ash bills, bills to reform the credit “freeze” process, and studies regarding the decline in arrests for drunk driving.  This week is the lead up to the deadline for action on all bills in our own chambers so stay tuned!

Please complete my survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey and email me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have feedback.  It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.

Scott Surovell (D) represents southern Fairfax, eastern Prince William, and northern Stafford counties in the Virginia State Senate.

Social Security card in tatters? You might be able to get a replacement online.

The DMV has announced a new system to order replacement Social Security cards. Here’s the press release:

New Service Allows Virginians to Replace Social Security Cards Online

More than 10,000 Benefit from DMV Partnership with SSA in First Quarter

 RICHMOND – Virginians may now be able to order a replacement Social Security card online, thanks to a partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Social Security Administration.

Previously, citizens who needed to replace their Social Security card had to gather the required documents and complete an application in person at a Social Security office or submit the application and documents by mail. Now, Virginians who meet a few basic requirements, and have a state-issued driver’s license or identification card, may simply visit ssa.gov to submit their application online. Social Security compares the submitted information with DMV and other records and, upon verification, mails the customer a new card.

More than 10,000 Virginians were served in the partnership’s first four months. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia also participate.

“We are always looking for opportunities to partner with other government agencies to offer new conveniences to Virginians,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb.

“We worked with the Virginia Department of Health to offer vital records in our 75 customer service centers and four mobile offices. Many of our offices offer E-ZPass through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation. And, in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, Virginians can apply for TSA Pre?® and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential at eight DMV locations across the Commonwealth. It only makes sense that we would work with SSA to enable Virginians to securely replace Social Security cards online.”

U.S. citizens who reside in Virginia and are 18 or older can visit ssa.gov to create a My Social Security account in order to request a Social Security card replacement online. Participants must have a U.S. domestic mailing address and a valid driver’s license or identification card, and must not need to change their name or make other record revisions.

 

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