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Virginia may issue ‘Ashanti Alerts’ for missing adults

RICHMOND – The abduction and slaying of a 19-year-old Norfolk woman prompted General Assembly approval of legislation to create an Amber Alert-like system for “critically missing” adults.

The “Ashanti Alert” called for in HB 260, sponsored by Del. Jerrauld Jones, D-Norfolk, was approved by the Senate on Thursday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Ralph Northam to become law.

Ashanti Billie was abducted in 2017 from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, where she worked at a sandwich shop, and later found dead in Charlotte, North Carolina. Because Billie was an adult, she didn’t meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

Once Ashanti went missing, we became more aware of other situations where something like this had happened but there was no mechanism in place,” said Jones, who represents the 89th House District, where Billie lived. “This is a public safety issue, not a partisan issue.”

Eric Brian Brown, described by authorities as a retired Navy veteran who worked at the base with Billie, has been charged with kidnapping in Virginia and in connection with her death in the Charlotte area.

Members of Billie’s family connected with Jones through their friend Kimberly Wimbish, who had worked with the delegate on his election campaign last year. They asked him to draft a bill to help those who currently don’t qualify for missing persons alerts.

Wimbish, who initially used Facebook to publicize the young woman’s disappearance, said the case raised awareness about missing adults, especially in the Norfolk area where people had connections to Billie.

“Everyone said she would give them her last. That she was always helpful and friendly,” said Wimbish, who serves as the family’s spokesperson. “We have to know and believe her kindness was taken for granted.”

Jones said the bill gives Virginia State Police the power to set criteria for the “critically missing adult alert.”

Currently, Virginia has three alerts for missing persons:

  • Amber Alerts and Endangered Missing Child Media Alerts, for missing persons under age 18.
  • Senior Alerts, sometimes called Silver Alerts, for persons 60 or older.

That leaves a gap for adults between 18 and 60 years old.

If approved by the governor, the Ashanti Alerts will be modeled on the Amber Alerts. An Amber Alert includes issuing emergency messages over public broadcasting networks, displaying electronic messages on highway signs and sending texts to all cellphones within range of the cellular carrier towers in the affected area.

Amber Alerts are also spread voluntarily by other state agencies, the news media and nonprofit organizations. For example, a program called A Child Is Missing can make 1,000 telephone calls with a recorded alert within a minute, according to Virginia’s Amber Alert Plan.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that Amber Alert systems nationwide have helped in the recovery of more than 540 children.

Last year, the General Assembly declared April 29 as “Missing Persons Day” to recognize the 600 Virginians missing at that time, and their families. Advocates are getting ready for the second annual Virginia Missing Persons Day.

Call to Action: Can you help a local nonprofit serve our community?

Good Morning Prince William  
Friends of the Square need your help on Saturday March 10th, 9am-12 noon for the big clean up event at the waterway near Bull Run Shopping Center and Costco Manassas.  Bring your energy and spirit and they’ll provide litter bags, litter grabbers and gloves. Please wear boots. This is a great way to kick off daylight saving weekend! Please call (571) 379-8213 for more info.
We also have these nonprofit needs in the community:

·         Keep Prince William Beautiful has a fun new program for fitness enthusiasts to take action to be environmental stewards.  This volunteer team is called Prince William Ploggers. Please call Lynda at (571) 285-3772 to get your Plogger team going.

·         Hey Teens – there are still a few volunteer spots available to help at the ICan Bike event during Spring break at Colgan High School. It’s a great way to help new bike riders and have tons of fun during spring break- March 26-30.  Please register to volunteer at: You can call Jennifer or Yukiko at (571) 989-3618 to learn more.

·         The Autism Society of Northern VA is gearing up for the annual walk in the fall and need volunteers to join their planning committee.  Tasks include coordination, outreach, recruitment, promotion, fundraising and logistics management. Please email them at: to learn more.

·         Manassas Parks, Culture and Recreation is looking for volunteers to serve as instructors or assistants for a basic tech class for seniors. The curriculum includes navigating the internet, online banking, reading emails and attachments as well as basics of Microsoft Word.  Please call Jean at (703) 257-8451 to learn more.

·         CASA Children’s Intervention Services is looking for volunteer advocates to work with children in crisis.  They have an extensive training program to give you all the needed skills.  Please come to their next volunteer information session on March 21st from 6-7pm at 9415 West Street Manassas. Please email Suzanne at: to learn more.

·         The Haymarket Regional Food Pantry invites you to their 40 days of Giving Campaign- 2018 Lenten Challenge.  Gather your friends and family to pledge either a can a day or a dollar a day to support the many families in need.  This campaign started February 14th and goes through April 1st– Easter Sunday.  Suggested items are all the usual’s you know!  A full list and additional info can be found on their website at:

·         The Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Dale City wants to pack 30,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger on March 10th.  Super fun, family friendly event to help those less fortunate.  You can choose either morning or afternoon shift.  Please visit: for the link to register. They also need donations to buy the meal components.  Please call Patti at (703) 200-3077 to learn more.

·          Occoquan Watershed Clean-up is hosted by Rebekah a 13 yr. old Girl Scout on March 10th 10am-12;30 at Lake Ridge Park.  Come support her litter prevention project!  Please email Rebekah to volunteer or for more info at:

·         Save the date! April 21st for the 9th Annual Upper Occoquan River Clean-up 9am-2pm. This extensive project has a whole number of places to start the day. Trash bags, water, gloves and refreshments provided.  Please visit their website at: to register and get all the specifics for the day. Please email Ed at to learn more.

·         The ARC Greater Prince William invites you and your family to their 5K Run/Walk/Roll on Saturday April 28th, 8am at Potomac Nationals Stadium. $25 for the first 100 participants, $30 early-bird registration before April 1stand then $40 regular price.  Please visit for more info and to register today!

·         Mark your calendars for April 18th at Chick-Fil-A in Lake Ridge to find more volunteer opportunities from area agencies.  The event is 9am-10:30am.  Bring your friends for free coffee.

·         The Bull Run Rotary Club invites you to their annual Manassas Runway 10K, 5K or 1 mile run on the Manassas Airport Runway on Sunday April 29that 8am. Please register online at:

 If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call my wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William. Jan can help you with the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) opportunities at (703) 369-5292 ext. 1, Shelley can help with any individual or group projects and send you weekly updates if you’d like. Shelley is at (703) 369-5292 ext. 0, and Bonnie can help you with opportunities available in Disaster Preparedness at (703) 369-5292 ext. 3. Please visit our newly re-vamped website at Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

24-year old veteran, business owner tells “what it takes to make it to the top when you started at the bottom”

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City of Manassas, Prince William Chamber recognize multiple Manassas businesses

On Wednesday evening February 28, 2018 the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 7th annual business awards dinner at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas to honor the best of the local business community.  Awards recognize excellence in business, innovative practices, outstanding contributions to the community and businesses/organizations that stand out among their peers.
The City of Manassas presented its “Business of the Year Award” to Shining Sol Candle Company.  Shining Sol Candle Company opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in Historic Downtown Manassas a year and a half ago.  Owner Pete Evick is a life-long resident of Manassas and is committed to building a strong sense of community, which has already become evident with the huge amount of success he’s had.  Since opening Shining Sol, he has experienced a 70% increase in year-over-year revenues. Shining Sol has been a tremendous addition to Historic Downtown always striving to be a “good neighbor” and thinking outside the box when it comes to promotion, extended hours of operation and cross-merchant advertising. 
This unique line of hand-poured, wooden-wick, all-natural soy candles are crafted in true artisan fashion, one at a time or small batched and are 100% made in Manassas.  The store offers a wide selection of candle accessories, wax melts, candle tins and apparel, in addition to the soy candles. Evick regularly gives back to the community through fundraising and apprenticeship programs. 
Additionally, City businesses received top honors in 8 of the 11 Chamber categories:
·        Tech Company of the Year: Micron Technology
Micron Technology is a global leader in the semiconductor industry and a major employer in the City of Manassas, employing over 1,300. Their memory products are the #1 export in Virginia and they are the #2 manufacturer of memory in the world.  The company continues to be a great partner within the community, specifically within education.  Micron knows that education and a strong community are vital to the success of both society and innovative companies and they remain an ardent partner in Manassas and the surrounding jurisdictions.


·        Excellence in F/I/RE: Weber Rector
Weber Rector is one of the most established commercial real estate brokerage firms serving the Northern Virginia market (Prince William County, Manassas City, Manassas Park, Fauquier, Culpeper & Stafford – as well as the surrounding area).   Established in 1994, Weber Rector has brokered over $600 million dollars’ worth of commercial real estate transactions.  Paramount to this success has been the foundation upon which they operate: integrity, professionalism and knowledge, as well as the strong partnerships they have fostered within the community.


·        Community Outreach Award: Jirani Coffeehouse
Since Jirani Coffeehouse opened its doors in Historic Downtown Manassas in 2016, owners Ken and Detra Moorman have been committed to fostering a strong sense of community.  They started Jirani Coffeehouse with the mission of bringing people of all ages and interests together in a “third space” – that welcoming atmosphere that you love to frequent outside of home and work. Their unique coffee shop is not only a place for excellent coffee and conversation, but has become a neighborhood hub and a center for arts and culture.  


·        Excellence in Hospitality and Tourism: Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant
Mariachi’s attracts both local and regional tourists, many from outside the DMV area, to Historic Downtown Manassas.  Their authentic Mexican cuisine and popular festivals and events have attracted many a new demographic of first time and repeat visitors to the area, which has positive spillover impacts on surrounding businesses.


·        Business Excellence Award (11+ Employees): Hepburn and Sons LLC
Hepburn and Sons is a small veteran-owned company with a combined 175 years of DoD experience, 140 years direct Navy support ranging from deep concept development to fielding, sustaining and disposing of ships/systems within the entire cradle-to-grave acquisition life cycle, including Navy Command and operational experience. Hepburn and Sons was founded in Manassas and has grown steadily in Historic Downtown.


·        Innovative Practice or Partnership of the Year: CoWork LLC
CenterFuse is a business accelerator designed to stimulate the establishment and growth of start-up businesses and emerging ventures. It is a public-private partnership between CoWork, LLC; Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas and is the first of its kind in the greater Manassas region.  


·        Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Award, Health and Human Services: Action in Community Through Service
ACTS (Action in Community Through Services) founders began by addressing the most basic human needs of food and shelter.  As the community grew, ACT’s services expanded to include the only comprehensive domestic violence program serving citizens of the City of Manassas as well as Prince William County and the City of Manassas Park.


·        Agnes L. Colgan Community Service Award, Arts and Education: IMPACTO Youth
IMPACTO Youth serves socially and economically disadvantaged youth in the greater Manassas area.  It aims to create leaders and productive members of the community and empower youth to obtain their goals. 

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

In our last article, we talked about four activities you can enjoy with the senior in your life to increase quality of life. We started off with conversation, sketching, reciting and singing. Here are four more ideas to try.

Stretching – If you have been caring for a senior for a while, chances are you know a little about their physical strengths and challenges. Put this knowledge to good use. Lead a little stretching session. You might be able to do whole body stretches (reach high up over the head, point palms to ceiling and gently wiggle the fingers) or focus on a particular body part, like the foot. Point the toes, flex the ankle, whatever feels good. Be sure to go slowly and ask your senior how each movement feels. The point is to loosen the muscles and to engage in conversation about sensations. Note, it is recommended you ask a physical therapist or doctor what kind of movements they would recommend before you engage in this activity.

Gift making – Giving makes most people feel good, and giving handmade gifts can feel even better. Help the senior in your life enjoy both. Put together some simple gifts for birthdays, holidays or just because. You might help your senior arrange items in a gift basket, wrap it and put a big bow on it. Or you could try creating a centerpiece using a candle, silk flowers and a plate. For some people, just wrapping a gift and tying a nice ribbon is enough. No matter what you choose, this activity is good for maintaining motor skills, and it can stimulate different kinds of conversation.

Cooking – For many seniors, cooking is a challenge. Manipulating utensils can be painful or awkward. Forgetting how to prepare food or operate the oven is often a problem, too. Let the senior in your life be part of the process by simplifying it. For example, take all the ingredients out for a sandwich and have your senior assemble it. Prepping for a party? Maybe your senior can dip strawberries in chocolate and set them up to dry. Maybe chopping carrots is too much, but peeling is fine. Whatever the case, safely involve your senior in short stints in the kitchen to increase their sense of independence as they use smaller muscle groups.  

Sensory games – Humans are grounded through the senses, and what we experience through them leaves a lasting impression. There are all sorts of ways you can use the senses to evoke memories, feelings and expression. Play an old album and talk about the time period the music reminds your senior of. Lightly spray some of their favorite perfume or cologne in the air and ask them what they like or remember about the smell. If your senior is an animal lover, arrange a short visit with a gentle dog, cat or therapy animal and encourage petting. Offer different foods for the senior in your care to sample. Listen to and watch reactions closely. All these short activities involving the senses can encourage word recall, stimulate conversation and provide enjoyment.

As we noted in our previous article, not all activities will be appropriate for all people. Consider what you know about the senior in your life and offer alternatives based on that. The more activities you do together, the more you will learn about their likes and dislikes and you will be able to offer more options. You’ll see that short bursts of activity can go a long way towards improving quality of life.

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

Amid sea of red, women raise awareness and more for American Heart Association

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Amid a sea of red, women from all walks of life gathered to listen, raise awareness and raise money for the American Heart Association.

On Wednesday, February 28, in front of a capacity audience, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and Sentara Heart & Vascular Center hosted the annual Red Dress Luncheon to support the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.

“This is an amazing event for women in our community. It’s informative, it’s interesting and it’s fun,” says Kathie Johnson, President, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

 Johnson, served as the event’s emcee at Matchbox Restaurant in Woodbridge.

Among the messages for the women: make your health a priority, know your risk factors, and know heart attack symptoms.

According to the American Heart Association, some of those symptoms for women include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

“Women, because they have so many responsibilities, tend to neglect themselves,” explains Medical Director of

Electrophysiology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Dr. Aysha Arshad, “By the time women patients show up for care, their disease and prognosis are much worse compared to men.”

Survivor and keynote speaker, Katherine Hazemey was just 38 years old when she suffered her heart attack.

Since that time, Hazamey has changed her life and changed her habits. Even though she works long hours, she now gets up at three in the morning to make sure she has time for exercise.

It was that piece of the puzzle, Leslianne Grendysz, NP, shared with the crowd, it’s never too late to make changes in your life to benefit your heart with healthy habits.

“It’s important to take charge of your life and that means taking charge of your health,” Grendysz explained to the crowd, “Know your risk factors. Some factors like heredity, our race, our sex – we have no control over. But, we do have control over our diet, activity level and deciding whether we smoke or drink. Changing some of our habits can make all the difference in the world.”

Some of those habits include:

  • Get active
  • Control cholesterol
  • Eat better
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Maintain a healthy weight/BMI
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Stop smoking

To learn just how healthy your heart is, log onto Sentara’s to learn more about risk factors, healthy tips and recipes and discover what your heart’s age is, the answer might surprise you.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is a 183-bed, not-for-profit community hospital serving Prince William County and its surrounding communities. Our medical center combines the resources of a major health system with the compassionate, personalized care of a community hospital.

SNVMC offers quiet, private rooms and high quality care focused on safety and patient satisfaction. We offer a wide range of medical specialties, a highly qualified medical and clinical staff and state-of- the-art technology. Our clinical services include advanced imaging, cancer services, diabetes management, emergency care, heart and vascular care, lab services, neurology, primary care, orthopedics, urology, weight loss surgery, women’s services and more.

If bill passes, Virginia jails and prisons must provide inmates with free feminine hygiene products

RICHMOND – The Senate joined the House Tuesday in unanimously approving a bill that requires Virginia jails and prisons to provide inmates with free feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons.

If Gov. Ralph Northam signs it, House Bill 83 would take effect in July.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, also received unanimous approval in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.

Other legislation this session to remove the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, along with bills for exemptions during the state’s three day tax-free period in August and year-round failed to advance past House committees.

“It’s appalling that this was ever even an issue,” said Katrina Reid, a supporter of HB 83.

Currently, the Virginia Department of Corrections and some local and regional jails offer pads to inmates for free; however, tampons must be purchased. The cost to prisons will be included in the department’s budget and was estimated at $33,769. The cost has yet to be determined for jails.

The State Board of Corrections will be responsible for creating the feminine hygiene policy in the correctional facilities. While some states, such as Colorado, offer unlimited menstrual supplies, others, such as Arizona, have a maximum number of free pads and tampons allowed per month. The board has not yet specified a preference.


Woodbridge high school students to send robot to Kentucky

Steve Zylich, parent of students at Woodbridge High School, shared with us this article about the Woodbridge High School Robotics team:

On Friday, February 16th and Saturday, February 17th, the Woodbridge Senior High School Robotics Team participated in the Virginia VEX Robotics State Championships.  Of the 56 teams from all over Virginia, nine of them were from WSHS.  Teams went to the state tournament to vie for the state title and the right to move on to the VEX World Championships.  Five of the school’s nine robots got through the round robin qualifiers and continued to compete in the playoffs for the title.  In the end, WSHS Team 1575 X made it to the finals on an alliance with Team 177V from Richmond and 8086A from Glenn Allen.  In the finals they defeated an alliance made up of three teams from the Potomac School (12C, 12G, and 12J) from Mclean.  Team 1575X captained by both Daniel Diaz and James Tsai and team members: Heath Bahm, Kayla Yarbrough, Kimiya Farzinfar, Adam Culbertson, and Peter Benitez finished the day as State Tournament Champions.  This year, WSHS will be sending only one robot to compete against the world in the VEX World Robotics Championships to be held in Louisville, KY from April 25th to April 28nd at the Kentucky Expo Center.  There they will match designs and wits with 540 teams from all over the world.  Congratulations Woodbridge for seven consecutive appearances in the VEX World Tournament!

Each year the robotics teams build a new robot to compete in that year’s competition.  Each competition starts with a 15 second autonomous period where the robot operates completely on its own based on how the students have programmed it.  Followed by a 1 minute 45 second driver control period.  This year they needed to build a robot that could pick up and stack cones and move those stacks of cones around the field into their scoring zones.  For each match a team is paired up with another team to form an alliance and they compete against another alliance of two teams to score as many points as possible. So there are 4 robots on the field at a time in two teams of two trying to pick up and score as many cones as possible in the allotted time.

Woodbridge robotics participated in five regional competitions leading up to the State Championship Tournament.  Teams A, B, D, H, and X were all part of at least one Tournament Champion alliance, meaning that they won the tournament.  In the final tournament of the season at Briarwoods was large enough so not only the Tournament Champions, but also the Tournament Finalists, qualified for states.  In this tournament Teams C and M were tournament finalists.  Teams N and W qualified for states by having some of the highest scores in the robot driver and autonomous skills challenges in the state.

Additionally, Team D won the Excellence Award in three of those tournaments and Team H won the Excellence Award in one tournament.  The Excellence Award is given to the overall top team. It is the highest honor given out in the VEX Robotics Competition. The recipient of this award is a team that exemplifies overall excellence in creating a high quality VEX robotics program. This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work, and teamwork. As a strong contender in numerous award categories, this team deserves to be recognized for building a quality robotics program and a “team” committed to quality in everything that they do.


Medicaid expansion, teachers’ salaries, financial aid, BYOB at private pools…all that and more in week 7 of General Assembly

Week Seven of the General Assembly brought some focus to the state’s budget situation and movement on a few important bills of the session.

On Tuesday we debated our respective budget amendments.  The budgets are separated by a massive revenue gulf due to Medicaid.  The House of Delegates’ budget included Medicaid Expansion with a work requirement.  The Senate Budget did not.

Expanding Medicaid frees up about $250 million per year of Virginia taxpayer dollars because the federal government picks up spending on items Virginia taxpayers currently fund including charity care are state teaching hospitals, prison healthcare and twelve other smaller programs.  Aside from providing healthcare to about 300,000 Virginians it also is projected to create approximately 30,000 jobs – including about 1,000 jobs here in the 36th District and at least 7,500 in Northern Virginia.

Due to the Senate’s failure to propose expansion, the Senate budget was forced to cut a 2% raise for teachers, a 2% raise for state employees, over $23 million in college financial aid, another $20 million in operating funds for state colleges, and other funding for secondary education.  Medicaid Expansion could also fund all 36 vacant judgeships in Virginia (including two in Fairfax and Prince William Counties), eliminate our waiting list for services for adult intellectually and developmentally disabled Virginians, or make a huge dent in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.  I thought these policies were hostile to the 36th District and voted “no.” 

I also argued on the floor that I could not see how this put the General Assembly in position to adopt a budget before the session closes on March 10.  When the chambers start $500 million apart on revenue, it is impossible to have a reasonable negotiation.  It is clear to me that this General Assembly is either not adjourning or going into special session.

As for some good news, I helped pass Delegate Rip Sullivan’s law that legalized BYOB at private swimming pools.  Until this law came through committee, I had no idea (along with everyone else) that it was illegal to bring your own alcohol beverage to a private swimming club without a banquet license.  Given that most of the 36th District’s neighborhoods were built before homeowners’ associations existed, this is how most of my constituents join a pool.  After Governor Northam’s signature and July 1, 2018, you can eat a burger and drink a beer at your pool without fear of prosecution.

My bill to waive all fees and provide free computers to low income students who take online classes passed subcommittee and the full Education Committee.  Unfortunately, the bill was sent to the Appropriations Committee for a budget review, but I am hopeful it will pass. 

This week, about five of my remaining bills will be heard in the House including extending the coal ash moratorium, limiting consumer finance loans to 36% interest rates, and providing state compensation to the Norfolk Four – four men who were intentionally and wrongfully convicted for a rape they did not commit. 

Next week, we will also vote for a second time on two significant utility bills.  First, the bill removing the cap on electricity rates and mandating a ten-fold investment in renewable energy, payment of $450 million of coal ash remediation costs, and big boost in utility undergrounding will be heard.  Also, the telecommunications industry is pressing legislation to simplify deployment of 5G technology which requires smaller cells and smaller antennae. 

 I am hopeful that the electrical utility bill will facilitate undergrounding of lines on U.S. 1 and even more in 36th District neighborhoods built before utilities were undergrounded.  Likewise, I am working with the telecommunications providers to help keep 5G antennae off U.S. 1 right of way to minimize future taxpayer undergrounding expenses, and avoid future delays in wireless technology deployment that have previously occurred in the 36th District.

It is an honor to serve as your state senator.  Please email me at if you have any feedback. 

VDOT “ramping” up work near Courthouse Road. Expect detours.

Brought to us by VDOT:

FREDERICKSBURG –  The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the Interstate 95 southbound on-ramp from Courthouse Road in Stafford County next week to allow crews to finish work on the temporary ramp.

Beginning the evening of Monday, March 5, crews will close the existing on-ramp from Courthouse Road to I-95 southbound to begin milling and paving the temporary ramp.

The existing on-ramp will close overnight Monday, March 5 through Thursday, March 8 from 7:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning. Traffic will then be shifted onto the new, temporary ramp starting early Friday, March 9. The on-ramp is the only ramp affected with this work. Traffic can still exit to Courthouse Road from I-95 southbound on these evenings.

The on-ramp will remain open during the day. There will be no impacts to traffic during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

Local traffic should use the most convenient alternate route to access I-95 southbound, including Route 1 to Exit 143/Garrisonville or Exit 136/Centreport Parkway. Detour signs will be placed along the interstate to guide drivers not familiar with the area.

The new ramp is parallel to the existing on-ramp. The temporary on-ramp is steeper than the existing one. Crews have extended the acceleration lane on I-95 southbound by approximately 600 feet to give drivers a longer distance to merge at interstate speeds.

Shifting traffic slightly onto the temporary ramp will provide space for crews to build bridge abutments as part of the new diverging diamond interchange. When construction is finished in 2020, traffic will enter and exit the interstate from new ramps branching off the relocated Courthouse Road.

Message boards and extra signage will be posted this week to warn motorists about the upcoming ramp closures and traffic shift.

Project Background

When the $185.3 million widening and interchange project is complete, Courthouse Road will intersect with Route 1 at Hospital Center Boulevard.

In summer 2020, Exit 140 will open with new bridges and ramps in a diverging diamond interchange (DDI). In a diverging diamond interchange, vehicles are briefly shifted to the opposite side of the road, controlled by traffic signals. The DDI improves safety by reducing the number of spots where vehicles could collide, and can handle more left-turn movements per hour, twice the capacity of a conventional interchange.

Additional project details are available online at


Motorists can find real-time information on lane closures, work zones, traffic and other incidents on 511Virginia.

Download the free mobile 511Virginia app for Apple and Android devices to stay connected, or visit Motorists also can reach 511Virginia by calling 511 from any phone in Virginia.

Expect traffic shifts on Route 1

Here’s what the VDOT press release has to say:

WOODBRIDGE – Route 1 traffic will be shifting onto new pavement Friday, March 2 and then Monday, March 5, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The northbound lanes between Mount Pleasant Drive and Dawson Beach Road will shift Friday beginning at 10 a.m.; the southbound lanes between Occoquan Road and Marys Way will shift Monday beginning at 10 a.m. Both shifts are weather permitting.

Drivers should expect delays and are asked to use caution when driving through the work zones.

The work is part of the Route 1 widening project, which is scheduled for completion in fall 2019.

Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova

A new 4th lane on I-95 in Prince William under review could benefit drivers and lead to compensation for Express Lanes operator

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Join local historians and history buffs for Prince William County-Manassas 3rd annual History Symposium

On March 24, Prince William County and the City of Manassas will host their annual History Symposium at the Old Manassas Courthouse.

This year’s theme is “Growing Roots” and topics will cover the diverse 300-year history of Prince William County and Manassas.

This year’s speakers and topics include:

  • “Prince William County: Early Settlement, Founding, and Leadership” by local historian James Bish
  • “Gen. George Custer at the Battle of Buckland Mills” by historian and author Daniel Davis
  • “We Are All In This War; Those Who Fight and Those Who Stay Home” by local historian Charlotte Cain
  • “Prince William Forest – Before the Park” by Nation Park Service Interpretive Ranger Cecilia Lynch
  • “The Original Beer Baron: Robert Portner” by historian and author Michael Gaines
  • “Developing Prince William After Completion of the Shirley Highway” by local historian and conservationist Charlie Grymes

New this year will be a partnership with local students participating in National History Day. Selected students will present their History Day projects in between speakers. Their projects will be on display during the Symposium and later at the Manassas Museum.

Finally, there will be a reception at the Manassas Museum following the Symposium from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Attendees will get a rare chance to visit with the City curator and handle a few objects from the Museum’s collection.

The Symposium will take place on March 24th from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Old Manassas Courthouse at 9250 Lee Avenue in downtown Manassas. The reception afterward at the Manassas Museum is included in the ticket. You must register in advance by calling 703-792-4754.

Cost is only $10 a person.

Stafford Hospital turns 9 today

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

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

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

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

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

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

A public service announcement from the Prince William police:

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

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

From the Prince William police report:

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

    Arrested February 23:

Christopher John COWARD, 38, of no fixed address

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

Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

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

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