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Woodbridge Local

Shots fired outside Deewa Foodstreet & Banquet

From a police report: 

Reckless Handling of a Firearm – On June 2 at 12:58AM, officers responded to the Deewa Foodstreet and Banquet located at 14633 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a shots fired call.

The investigation revealed that several patrons were being removed from the business by staff members when a large fight broke out in the parking lot. At some point during the fight, an unknown person fired several shots into the air.

No injuries or property damage were reported. When officers arrived, they were able to identify and charge several of the suspects involved in the fight.

The investigation continues.

Bystander restrains would-be purse thief outside Potomac Mills

From a police report: 

?Strong-Armed Robbery – On June 3 at 3:58PM, officers responded to a parking lot located next to the Burlington Coat Factory and JC Penny’s in the 2700 block of Potomac Mills Cl in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a robbery.
The investigation revealed that the accused approached a 48-year-old woman as she was walking in a parking lot and demanded her purse. When she refused, the accused grabbed it from her shoulder as she attempted to resist.
The accused then assaulted the woman and attempted to run away with the purse. A 35-year-old man who was walking nearby saw what happened and gave chase after the accused. When he caught up to the accused, a struggle ensued. The man was eventually able to restrain the accused until officers arrived and detained the accused without further incident. Minor injuries were reported.
Further investigation determined that the accused also stole a purse from the Burlington Coat Factory earlier that afternoon. Following the investigation, the accused was charged.
Arrested on June 3:

Bryan Jeremy FINLEY, 24, of 6971 Sparks Ct in Bryans Rd, MD
Charged with robbery , assault & battery, and petit larceny
Court Date: August 22, 2018 | Bond: Held WITHOUT bond

Why learning music is beneficial for kids

With music programs slowly losing funding in many schools across the nation, it is important to remember some of the benefits that come with learning about it and how to create it. For kids of any age, learning music can have positive effects on critical life aspects such as making friends, performing well in school, and as a stress reliever.

If your child shows interest in playing music, chances are they would be happy to be enrolled in a music program if their school does not offer one. Being in a program that is enjoyable could make it easier for your child to find other children in the class that enjoys music as much as yours. While your child is learning a new skill, they will also be making positive connections with other children who share the same interest. Knowing that your child is making new friends is something every parent loves.

For many, music is often used as a tool to relieve stress after a long day at work. You may find yourself more relaxed after listening to some of your favorite music either at work or at home. The same could be said about children if they learn to use it the same way. Children that come home from a stressful day at school may find some comfort in picking up an instrument and practicing some tunes. The key is to give them access to music.

A study published by Cristopher Johnson, professor of Music Education and Music Therapy, shows that children who have access to high-quality music programs score around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests. This may be due to the need for focus, discipline, and patience that is necessary to learn music. If a child is able to develop these skills, the positive long-term effects that it could have in their education can be very beneficial.

At the Manassas Park Community Center, we have developed a set of introductory music programs to help understand its history and how to create it. Our Music Theory and Music Appreciation courses will help students become familiar with the basic building blocks of how music is created as they explore different genres throughout history. All Access members have full access to these courses at no additional cost, as well as one-on-one instrument lessons with our instructor. Now that the school year is ending, it is a perfect opportunity to help your child, or even yourself, learn the beautiful art of music!

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, special events, and recreational classes. For more information visit us at or call at 703-335-8872.

Super Crossword ticket yields $100,000 for Dale City woman

From the Virginia Lottery: 

When Kimberly Wright received a Super Crossword ticket from a friend for her birthday, she didn’t realize she’d just received a $100,000 present.

Instead of scratching the ticket, she tucked it away and didn’t think about it. It wasn’t until later that the Dale City woman found the ticket, scratched it, and discovered it was a top prize winner.

The winning ticket was bought at the 7-Eleven [at the intersection of Minnieville Road and Cardinal Drive] in Dale City.

Super Crossword features prizes ranging from $5 to $100,000. This is the third top prize claimed in this game, which means one more remains unclaimed. The chances of winning the top prize in Super Crossword are 1 in 1,040,400. The chances of winning any prize in this game are 1 in 4.15.

Ms. Wright said she has no immediate plans for her winnings.

Stave off depression in seniors by using the three Cs of caregiving

Depression, a serious mental health condition that can strike at any age, is a medical condition that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Unfortunately, many people assume depression is just part of aging. This is not true.

According to the National Institute on Aging, “Depression is a common problem among older adults, but it is NOT a normal part of aging. In fact, studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems. However, important life changes that happen as we get older may cause feelings of uneasiness, stress, and sadness.”  

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “Some estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.”

So what can you do to help the senior in your care live an emotionally healthy life? Start by providing the three Cs of caregiving.

Caring – Though it might sound obvious, caregiving requires you sincerely care about the well-being of the person who has been entrusted to you. Caregiving isn’t a business transaction. It’s an experience shared between humans – the caregiver and the care recipient. Attitude and personality are paramount. People are affected by the people around them, and there is no limit to the power of positivity. When you care enough to offer a positive experience, you let the senior in your life know they have value. This all contributes to increased self-esteem, which helps keep depression at bay.  Senior issues writer Anne-Marie Botek says, “Confidence that is supported by high self-esteem has long been touted as a vital component of living a happy life and having fulfilling interpersonal relationships. But a positive sense of self-worth may also stave off some of the negative effects of aging, according to two new studies.”

Comfort – If you’ve ever been uncomfortable physically or emotionally for longer than a few minutes, you know how it can affect everything, including your mood. A successful caregiver will be intuitive enough to understand when the senior in their care is uncomfortable and will know what to do about it. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. For example, Michelle Santos, who helped care for her 104-year-old, bedridden grandmother, said doing basic things like brushing her grandmother’s hair and doing her nails while talking softly about how beautiful she was made her grandmother smile. “My mom said she hadn’t smiled in a long time,” Santos said. “Even at that late age, simple acts of providing comfort made a difference.”

Confidence – Once seniors are cared for and comfortable, with your encouragement, they tend to become more confident in their ability to experience life in a positive way and maintain some sense of independence. Confidence is a powerful weapon again depression. It is tied to self-esteem. Confident seniors are more willing to step outside their comfort zone and try new things, even simple activities like going for a walk after a period of immobility. According to SeniorCaring, “…lack of balance confidence is an issue that can keep seniors from regaining mobility and independence. By helping your loved one build their confidence, you may help them regain mobility and independence,” especially if there has been a fall.

It is important to remember that depression is a serious illness. If the senior in your care exhibit symptoms of depression, or if you have any uncertainties about their mental health, consult a medical professional immediately.

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

Funeral service planned for homeless man who lived on Parsons property, no next of kin

From an email: 

I wanted you to know about a memorial service for Russell Campbell, this Saturday, June 2, 10 am at All Saints Anglican Church, 14851 Gideon Drive, Woodbridge.

Russell was a member of our church (Immanuel Anglican) and a very good friend of mine. I met him six years ago when he was living in the woods on the Parson’s property. We were able to get him a studio apartment, but his degenerative brain disease required our moving him to Envoy Nursing Home.

He passed away on April 17; I ended up handling all the paperwork as there was no next of kin to be found; that’s a whole other story.

In any event, we have an original song about the folks in the woods that will be played. Also, should be many folks there that had lived at Parsons; most now just live in other woods.

‘Both suspects then jumped over the counter and demanded prescription medications’

From a press release: 

Strong Armed Robbery – On May 29 at 1:31AM, officers responded to the CVS located at 13600 Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a robbery. Employees reported to police that two unknown men entered the business and approached the pharmacy counter. Both suspects then jumped over the counter and demanded prescription medications from the employees as a third suspect waited in front of the store as a lookout. The suspects took an undisclosed amount of prescription medications before fleeing the area in a white SUV, which had been circling the store prior to the incident. No weapons were displayed during the robbery and no injuries were reported. The investigation continues

Suspect Descriptions:

A thin black male, 5’10”, 165lbs

Last seen wearing a grey hoodie sweatshirt, a black jacket that covered his face, dark jeans, and dark shoes.


A heavyset black male, 6’00”, 250lbs, with a mustache and goatee

Last seen wearing a grey hoodie and dark pants.


Male of an unknown race, 5’09”, 150lbs

Last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark ripped jeans, and blue Nike shoes.

Flickr photo: Mike Mozart

Old canoes used to make Prince William Landfill bee, insect friendly

Multiple volunteers worked to plant a pollinator garden at the Prince William County Landfill. 

From a press release: 

Repurposed canoes, pallets, and tires were used to create raised garden beds, a native bee hotel, and a walking path through a pollinator-friendly meadow. These upcycled goods will support the health of native bees, honeybees, insects, and other wildlife for years to come.

The project was a joint effort that brought several community organizations together. Keep Prince William Beautiful secured $20,000 from a Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Impact grant to fund the project. The Prince William County Solid Waste Division, Bees in Schools, LLC, the Prince William Conservation Alliance, and George Mason University’s Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center all worked together to make the undertaking possible. Volunteer planting days open to the community were held on April 14 and April 21 in celebration of Earth Day. 

“Our whole goal is attracting pollinators to a spot where we know there are very few right now,” said Dr. Cynthia Smith, Associate Professor at George Mason University, as she thanked the crowd of 101 volunteers on the first work day, “In three hours we took a field with some mulch and now we’ve got a pollinator garden with seeds installed, before the rain tomorrow. We could not have done this without your help.” 

Janelle Bryant, a member of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, shared her motivation for volunteering for the project, “It’s gratifying to see that the county is planting these gardens to attract native bees – if we don’t create these gardens now we could lose many of our important pollinators.”

Bee population numbers are declining rapidly due to factors such as colony collapse disorder, pesticides and herbicides from modern agriculture, and habitat loss. The bee hotels will serve as nesting habitat for native bees, who will utilize plants in the raised beds and the flower meadow as food sources. Louise Edsall, a beekeeper and founder of Bees in Schools, will also install bee hives to produce local honey at the landfill and each hive can be home to about 60,000 bees. Edsall is expecting about 180 species of native pollinators to make the site home.

The volunteers completed their work last month.

The new treatment, Aquablation therapy, uses a robot-controlled waterjet to remove the enlarged prostate tissue

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center announced today there is new hope for men who suffer from lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) as a result of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.

Dr. John Klein

The new treatment, called Aquablation® therapy, is performed by the AQUABEAM System which uses a robot-controlled waterjet to remove the enlarged prostate tissue. It is the only FDA-cleared minimally invasive treatment for BPH that combines real-time, multi-dimensional imaging with surgical robotics and a heat-free waterjet for targeted, precise and safe removal of prostate tissue, with a reduced risk of sexual side effects.

Urologist John B. Klein, M.D. is one of the first doctors on the East Coast to offer this new treatment. Until recently, with current BPH treatment options, men have had to choose between significant symptom relief with a high risk of sexual side effects or a lower risk of sexual complications with less symptomatic benefit.

For this reason, many men have avoided treatment altogether. Aquablation therapy eliminates the need for men to make the choice between symptom relief and risk. Aquablation therapy with the AQUABEAM System is designed to break the tradeoff in BPH treatment between efficacy and negative side effects, offering significant symptom improvement with a low risk of sexual complications.

“With enlarged prostate or BPH, the symptoms cause fairly abrupt decrease in quality of life, people can’t go to a movie without getting up twice to urinate, they can’t sleep through the night – that’s a big thing. It’s one thing if you get up once and fall back asleep; it’s another if you get up three times and you can’t get back to sleep afterward or your wife can’t get back to sleep afterward. It’s a real stressful thing,” said Dr. Klein of Potomac Urology. “We believe this therapy may fundamentally transform the way we treat men with BPH.”

BPH is a highly prevalent condition affecting approximately 50 percent of men age 60 or older and 90 percent of men age 85 or older. In the United States, there are over 12 million men being actively managed for their condition, of which two million have failed medical management and are looking for alternative treatment options. Those suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms of an enlarged prostate can find out more about Aquablation therapy by contacting Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center at 1-800-Sentara or visit

This Memorial Day weekend, we’re welcoming guests for fun in the sun

Now that school is almost out of session, it is time to start making plans for you and your family this summer. Many families have plans to travel, but for those of us staying in good old Virginia this summer, we must find good ways of making our summer a fun one. While Northern Virginia has plenty of attractions to visit, sometimes going out to a local park is an easier, more relaxing way to spend some nice summer days. Warm weather is finally here, and it brings with it the grand opening of the Signal Bay Waterpark!

This Memorial Day weekend, we will be welcoming guests in for an entire weekend of fun in the sun.

During springtime, we here at Parks and Recreation have been working hard to make sure the waterpark was ready for our grand opening. Even now, just as the grand opening rapidly approaches, we are still finalizing the small details. The entire waterpark has been deep-cleaned, painted, and has a brand-new feel to it. Don’t take our word for it though, feel free to see for yourself!

The Signal Bay Waterpark is a 27,000 sqft facility within Signal Hill Park, and it features a zero depth entry leisure pool with water cannons, slides, and a lazy river. It comes equipped with tables and a shaded structure to allow our guests to bring in some snacks while enjoying a nice day out with friends and family. Showers are also available for convenience.

The waterpark opens on Memorial Day weekend and will be open every weekend until Manassas Park City Schools are out for the summer. Once schools are closed for summer vacation, the waterpark will be open daily.
Also, Signal Bay Waterpark features birthday party packages for kids. All packages include food, drink, and all day access to guests. It certainly helps busy parents relieve some stress! All you have to do is reserve your date, which can be done at Signal Bay Waterpark or at the Manassas Park Community Center, and we will handle the rest!

So now that summer is here, why not take a well-deserved break and join us on Memorial Day Weekend? We hope to see you there!

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility offers group exercise classes, basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, and recreational programs. For more information, visit us at or call at 703-335-8872.

Recent survey finds nine in 10 Washington, D.C., area drivers use cellphone while behind the wheel

Transurban and Virginia Department of Transportation launch 2018 “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign to reduce distracted driving in 395 Express Lanes work zone

A survey of more than 1,000 Washington, D.C., area drivers who travel the Interstate 395 corridor shows that motorists self-report engaging in a number of distractions while behind the wheel. Following the survey findings, Transurban, operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, and the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today the launch of a 2018 “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign to reduce distracted driving within the 395 Express Lanes work zone.

“We focus on safety on the Express Lanes and in the 395 Express Lanes work zone every day,” said Jennifer Aument, president, North America, Transurban. “We need the help of drivers to create a safer work zone to ensure on-road construction crews and other travelers are getting where they need to go safely.”

The top three cellphone distractions reported among D.C. area motorists were using a phone to talk, checking GPS or travel planning, and reading a text message. Despite growing research that finds holding a conversation on a cellphone is still dangerously distracting*, more than half of area drivers report feeling unconcerned about using their phones to talk while behind the wheel. The “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign aims to improve safety by reducing distracted driving within the 395 Express Lanes work zone.

“In 2017, distracted driving accounted for almost 25 percent of traffic fatalities,” said Shannon Valentine, Virginia Secretary of Transportation. “In work zones alone, VDOT recorded 2,666 crashes resulting in 1,329 injuries and 12 fatalities. The lives lost were completely preventable. We must continue to engage the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The ‘Orange Cones. No Phones.’ campaign is an important component to help deliver safety on our roads and reduce incidents.”

The survey** conducted in March 2018 finds:

• Nine out of 10 drivers say they have used a cellphone while driving.
• One in five drivers who have had an accident or near accident claim it was due to cellphone use.
• Nearly three out of four drivers say they keep their phone close when driving, and one in six have it in their hand.
• Fifty-four percent of drivers admit to using a cellphone at least occasionally while driving.
• One-third of drivers in the survey said the last time they used their phone while driving was “today.”
• One-third of drivers feel “it’s OK” to use a cellphone while stopped at a red light, a stop sign or in traffic.
• Compared to a similar survey of area drivers in 2014***, hands-free talking while driving increased by 14 percent, with 53 percent of drivers in March 2018 now admitting to doing it.
• One in four people admits that using a cellphone for activities other than conversations while driving is “frightening.”
• Seven out of 10 drivers say they stop cellphone use while driving after seeing a sign advising them to do so.
• Seeing a police officer causes 78 percent of drivers to stop cell phone use while on the roads.

“As the first responders to many of these crashes, we understand the serious consequences of distracted driving,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent. “Safety is our number one concern, and we are pleased to support this program to educate and increase awareness with drivers across the region to help cut down on distracted driving.”

“With so many drivers on the roads around the Washington area admitting they are distracted while driving, there is a huge safety concern for everyone on the roads,” said John Townsend, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Holding a conversation is still a distraction, and our hope is that this program will help drivers become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, especially around work zones on our highways, and take active steps to make better choices.”

Checking a cellphone or sending a text using voice commands at seemingly safe moments such as when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection also has been found to be dangerous behavior. According to a Study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, these types of potentially unsafe mental distractions can affect motorists’ attention for as long as 27 seconds, which is equivalent to traveling the length of nearly three football fields at a speed of 25 miles per hour.

As part of the “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign, the partners are implementing a number of tactics supported by the study’s findings, industry data and best practices to improve safety for all drivers:

• “Orange Cones. No Phones.” signs will be visible throughout the 395 Express Lanes construction corridor.
• The Virginia State Police presence will be increased in the 395 corridor.
• Advertisements will remind drivers to travel safely and not to drive while distracted.
• Press throughout the region will be engaged to help increase awareness with drivers around this important safety message.

The 395 Express Lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019. The Lanes will extend the 95 Express Lanes eight miles north to the D.C. line and help get people moving in the I-395 corridor. The Lanes will increase capacity by adding another HOV lane, creating three reversible lanes on I-395. As part of this project, Transurban will provide $15 million in transit funding per year to enable multimodal solutions in the corridor.


** The online survey of 1,003 Washington, D.C., area drivers who travel I-395 at least monthly was conducted by international market research firm YouGov between March 21 and March 28, 2018.

*** Online survey of 1,023 frequent I-95 drivers who live in Northern Virginia.

About the Express Lanes
The 495 and 95 Express Lanes operate on I-495 and I-95, providing drivers with faster and more predictable travel options in Northern Virginia. Together, the 495 and 95 Express Lanes create a region-wide network of free-flowing lanes for over 40 miles from the Dulles Toll Road to Stafford County. Delivered through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, the Express Lanes give drivers reliable travel choices on two of Northern Virginia’s most congested roadways. For more information, please visit

About Transurban
For over twenty years, Transurban has improved the quality of life for customers by providing innovative solutions for their transportation needs. Transurban is a pioneer of the public-private partnership (P3) managed lanes concept in the United States. The North American business was among the first to implement major transportation infrastructures in the Virginia region. Our Express Lanes network features industry-leading tolling and traffic management systems on more than 40 miles of managed lanes across the 495 and 95 Express Lanes. Transurban was one of the first to use a number of innovative financing and technology strategies in the development of major toll road projects.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center receives ‘Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award’

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Silver Plus and Target: StrokeSM Elite Honor Roll Quality Achievement Awards. The awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center earned the awards by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

“Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients by implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke initiative,” said Kim Houser, RN, Coordinator of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s Stroke Team. “The tools and resources provided help us track and measure our success in meeting evidence-based clinical guidelines developed to improve patient outcomes.”

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center additionally received the association’s Bronze and Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll awards. To qualify for these recognitions, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

“We are pleased to recognize Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center for their commitment to stroke care,” said Eric E. Smith, M.D., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and an associate professor of neurology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Partners donate $126,000 renovation on 12 Woodbridge apartments

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington told us apartment homes at 1423 G Street in Woodbridge, built in 1952, have been renovated thanks to the help of at least three organizations. 

From a press release

Six formerly homeless families have a refurbished apartment home – thanks to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (CCDA), HomeAid Northern Virginia, and home builder Toll Brothers and its trade partners.  They just completed a $126,000 renovation on 12 individual apartments and a children’s activity center at Catholic Charities’ St. Margaret of Cortona Transitional Residences in Woodbridge.

HomeAid Northern Virginia, a non-profit that builds and renovates supportive housing and shelter facilities teamed CCDA with Toll Brothers. CCDA contributed $20K toward builder costs and provided hotel accommodations for residents until the renovations were complete, while still providing case management and counseling services. HomeAid Northern Virginia, Toll Brothers and their construction trade partners covered [$106,000] of the renovation costs as well as onsite storage for the residents’ furniture during the renovation.

Of the 12 refurbished apartments, six are occupied by families –mostly mothers with young children. The remaining six vacant apartments will soon house more families exiting homeless shelters. Those units have new furniture and décor donated by Staged Interior. 

The renovations took three months to complete. Improvements included updated bathrooms, drywall repair, new flooring, and upgraded kitchens with granite countertops.

Veronica Roth, program director for Catholic Charities’ St. Margaret of Cortona Transitional Residences says the families are thrilled about the renovations. “The apartments look so fresh and new now, and for working moms, it also makes house-keeping easier. The laminate flooring is such an improvement over the old commercial carpeting and the new cabinets and counters are spacious,” she said.  Roth says one family has a disabled child in a wheelchair, and she just can’t say enough about the new floors – making it easier to get her child around. 

Without the MISSION Act, millions of veterans will lose access to care

Since the Veterans Administration (VA) scandal broke in 2014, Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) across the country have worked with Congress to ensure greater accountability, transparency, and efficiency in delivering quality care to our veterans.

The current VA Choice Program is one of those opportunities. With over two million veterans using the Choice Program to schedule over 39 million essential appointments, it is in danger of running out of funding by the end of the month. Without funding, millions of our nation’s warriors will lose access to the care they desperately need. 

The MISSION Act, supported by over 38 National VSOs—a staggering and unified number—strengthens the VA’s ability to deliver efficient and immediate care to our veterans. It does so by providing over $5 billion to prevent disruptions of care in the Choice Program, modernizing VA healthcare, creating integrated networks of high-performing providers to support the VA, creating a commission to review current VA facilities, and making it possible for World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf War veterans with severe combat-related disabilities to receive comprehensive caregiver assistance. 

Last Wednesday, 70 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the MISSION ACT and voted for political games over improving healthcare for those who served our country.  Without immediate passage of the bill in the Senate, veterans could lose a critical support line to receive the care they require—and will again be forced to face long waiting periods to receive treatment.

Such waiting periods have led to veteran deaths in the past, and we cannot let a single veteran die waiting for the care they need simply because of Congressional delays.

As one who wore an Air Force uniform for 30 years and later chaired the Joint Virginia House-Senate Military and Veterans Caucus that is the legislative clearing house for bills on behalf of 800,000 Virginia veterans, I know first-hand that the MISSION Act is crucial.

I strongly encourage those reading this letter to call Senators Warner and Kaine, urging them to support this bill that ensures that our nation’s heroes receive the care they deserve.

In Manassas, across the commonwealth, tourism spending is on the rise

Governor Ralph Northam today released 2017 preliminary state economic impact data from U.S. Travel Association. This information depicts the impact tourism and domestic travel has on the economy.

Local impact data is not yet available for Manassas; however, the preliminary numbers indicate another record year for tourism spending as consumers seek out more experiential opportunities.

Tourism is an essential part of our local economy. Few localities have experienced such seminal events as Manassas did during the Civil War. The Manassas National Battlefield Park, Liberia Plantation and Manassas Museum continue to serve as key attractions.

Increasingly, visitors are also drawn to the charm of Historic Downtown, its specialty shopping and dining, and crowd-pleasing events.

In 2017 over 369,000 people attended one of the city’s many popular events: 1st Friday’s, Bands, Brews and Barbeque; Wine and Jazz Festival, Farmer’s Market (

According to the Virginia Tourism Commission (VTC), tourists spent more than $68 million in Manassas last year and generated $1.8 million in local tax revenues; not including indirect or multiplier impacts.

Data breaches: How to keep your digital information safe

Digital data breaches go well beyond debit or credit card theft. In fact, it is fair to say that debit and credit card theft is the least of your worries.

Chris Albright

Your bank and credit card companies have safeguards in place to return your funds to you, but most other data cannot be retrieved once breached. Even when stolen data is recovered and new security is put in place, the breached information is in the hands of the hacker.

With the increasing amount of private, sensitive and business-critical data stored digitally, this can be detrimental. Chris Albright of CMIT Solutions of Centreville has some tips for minimizing your risk of a data breach.

Understand the Need for Security

Many businesses and everyday individuals severely underestimate their level of risk. You might be a small or mid-sized business, but the data you store digitally can be a hacker’s goldmine. Take a look at some of the major organizations who have been breached in the last couple of years.

  • The Pennsylvania hack of the Department of Education’s website compromised the information of 360,000 employees.
  • The City of Atlanta’s recent ransomware attack halted essential municipal services, leading to ATL airport shutting down their Wi-Fi.
  • Due to deceiving third-party agreements, 50 million Facebook users unknowingly had their posts, private messages, and data accessed without their consent.
  • The 2016 Banner Health cyberattack exposed the private health information of 3.7 million patients in 27 locations across the nation. This type of data can sell for 10 times more than credit card information.
  • The Equifax credit reporting bureau was breached in 2017 leading to 147.9 million Americans’ personal information being leaked, placing all involved at higher risk for identity theft.
  • The 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack was the largest in history and affected thousands of businesses and individuals from around the globe.

If these organizations can be breached, many of whom must comply with strict industry digital data storage regulations, SMBs and everyday online accounts are vulnerable as well.

Reducing Your Risk

First and foremost, there is no way to 100 percent guarantee that your data will never be breached. but there is much you can do to reduce the likelihood:

Passwords: Change your passwords at least twice a year. Use strong passwords, preferably with a password manager that encrypts your passwords. Password protect all electronic devices, as many of them autologin to all the accounts you’ve logged into. Also, upload a lockout feature so that if your device is lost or stolen, passwords are erased.

Delete: Delete old digital accounts that you no longer use, or you may forget about them and the information they contain. Also, create a list of all online accounts and mobile apps that require logins. Even a one-time purchase to an e-commerce site can lead to a data breach, from a place you don’t even remember ordering from.

Be mindful of what you share: Your Facebook profile alone shares information such as where you were born, where you went to school, your kids’ names, your pets’ names and more. These are often the answers to three-factor authentication designed to improve your security. Never ever share, electronically or in person, your login information. Look through your Facebook messenger feed, you may be surprised at the amount of personal information you share there. You may want to reconsider going forward.

Never open suspicious emails: It’s easier said than done as hackers are good at sounding legitimate. This is particularly challenging at work where you won’t know everyone who sends you an email. If you open something that feels fishy, follow your company’s procedures to scan your device. If at home, run a security scan on your own.

Improve your security: Upgrade to newer software and technology, such as from a magnetic strip debit card to an EMV card if it’s available. Upgrade your website with an SSL Certificate. Perform all software and app updates ASAP, as they contain security patches and updates. Encrypt your data. Restrict remote login. Set up automated alerts for abnormal activity, such as on your debit card when you travel or make an unusually large purchase. Have a digital security professional scan your network and devices for security risks and set up an automated system for determining a hack or data breach.

Stay up to date: Online security is constantly evolving, so you must keep up. What minimizes your risks today may not be relevant in a year or less.

We are at a point at which we don’t think twice about our most private and personal information being stored digitally. For example, you may even communicate with your physician via email or use health and fitness apps in which you store in-depth health information. Just a decade ago we would have been a bit more mindful, but the convenience and functional factors have become of such great benefit that we will continue to store more information digitally, not less. This means data breach security must be top of mind for personal use, professional use and even for the kids in our family.

CMIT Solutions of Centreville provides a strategic approach to IT consulting that improves the performance of your business technology in the most cost-effective way possible. Assisting businesses across Northern Virginia, CMIT Centreville can help you achieve the fastest return on your technology investment. Call 703-881-7738 today to see how CMIT Centreville can help your business stay in business.

Sentara’s Daisy Team Award winners served food, gave dry, clean toiletries to a nearby homeless encampment

The team at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is dedicated to serving our patients every day.

One group is recognized for their hard work- not just inside the hospital, but outside the walls as well.

The ICU Team was named this year’s Daisy Team Award winners.

This team spearheaded an initiative to serve food and provide dry, clean toiletries to a nearby homeless encampment, and this meant coming in several weekends to sort and prepare donated items.

Then, on the weekend they were serving food- it poured! The team didn’t give up though, they toughed it out- and many folks who might have gone hungry that day had a hot meal.

The Daisy Foundation was formed by the Barnes Family in 1999 after the loss of their 33-year-old son J. Patrick Barnes. The nursing care that their son received when hospitalized profoundly touched his family, and they wanted to recognize nurses that provide exceptional care…while often stating, “I am just doing my job.”

Your jobs touch the hearts and lives of more than you know. The Daisy Foundation was developed to celebrate nurses.

The Daisy Nurse award is presented quarterly to SNVMC nurses who meet a high standard of care provided. The award was developed for the celebration of nurses who provide extraordinary compassionate and skillful care every day.

The Daisy Team award is presented yearly.

Potomac Local Parent of the Month: Kristina

Potomac Parent is a monthly column that looks at life through the eyes of real parents. This month, we interview Kristina.
1. What time you do wake up?
I’m still on chemotherapy treatments until around August, so getting out of bed is not my favorite.  I’m usually up around 7, 7:30, but not functionally out of bed until 8 or so. 

2. What are your children’s names and ages?
Riley is 14, Logan is 12 and Savannah is 10.

3. What’s the most difficult part about your morning routine?
Our mornings usually work pretty well, actually.  Each of my kids has a laminated sheet with their morning list on it, so they do their chores, eat breakfast and get ready for the day on their own.  It’s a perk of having older kids.  We homeschool, so as long as they’re ready to start devotions by 9 a.m., they’re good to go.

4. What is your morning beauty or grooming routine?
I tend to shower at night so that I have time to do my hair, so in the mornings I keep it pretty basic — just brushing, moisturizing, and clothes, although if I’m going out I’ll do my makeup. I am trying to be better about that now that I’m in my mid-thirties. I’ve definitely noticed that people react better to my face when it’s made up, and they ask me if I’m feeling okay if it’s not. That’s definitely a sign I need a little help!

5. Are you a coffee or tea person?
Yes.  I enjoy a nice cappuccino or hazelnut latte, but at home I usually go for tea.  Iced Lipton with lemon (no sugar), or Numi Organic Chai with half and half and honey, or Tazo Lemon Cake are some of my favorites. 

6. What do you do once the kids are in school?
My kids are homeschooled, so when they’re in school, I’m in school.  Balancing their coursework with my own responsibilities can seem like a lot, but for the most part, we’ve got it down to a science. I write, run my website and plan my lessons for classes I teach outside our home in the “between times” when everyone is working independently.  
7. What kind of work do you do outside the home?
Until January, I was Delegate Rich Anderson’s community outreach coordinator, and I run  I also teach classes at Capital Baptist Coop, and I volunteer in our community and through our church. However, I think that my work inside our home raising our kids is the most important thing that I do, and I think that it’s okay to think that. For a lot of moms that choose to stay home, it can feel like people are looking down on your decision, so I just want to validate that it’s a legitimate choice.

8. What is the biggest challenge of trying to get work done – any work – with your schedule and responsibilities?
I think that as moms, prioritizing our time is really hard because we’re all kind of stuck in that “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” mode where you start one thing and then notice another that needs to get done.  It’s really easy to walk downstairs with a basket of laundry and notice the kitchen needs cleaning and then realize you  haven’t started dinner and then you get a phone call for work — it just kind of snowballs.  I try to take time to plan the deliberate parts of my day — phone calls scheduled during certain times, to-do list items that must get done, and then I can always go back to my list to feel like I’ve accomplished something that day when I see the completed tasks.

9. What do you wear during the work week?
If it’s winter, I’m probably in jeans and a sweater, wishing I lived in Southern California.  If it’s not winter, I’m a big fan of dresses and skirts.  Since I generally work from home, it would be really easy for me to stay in pajamas or sweats all day, but I did the Fly Lady system for a long time, which requires you to get up and get dressed and take your day seriously, and that really stuck with me.

10. What’s the craziest thing that happened to you so far this week?
I’m teaching a Biography in Writing class at our homeschool coop this year, and that can get really dicey when people cancel at the last minute — so probably having to ad-hoc a class around watching a YouTube video interview of Colonel Sanders from KFC fame.  

11. Do you have pets?
We do not. We have had bunnies in the past, but right now we are pet-free, which is, honestly, kind of nice. I still want a dog though, but that would require my husband completely abandoning all of his moral principles, so it’s probably not gonna happen.

12. How do you get through the hard times?
Without sounding preachy, I am a big believer in relying on God. My Christian faith helps me to keep things in perspective, and to know that there is someone bigger than me that I can lean on when things are overwhelming. It also provides me with other women to look to as mentors, and friends who will pray for me and help me during the really hard times.  Having been through two cancer diagnoses, my definition of “hard” is also a lot different now than it was before.  Crying kids and burning dinner pale in comparison with facing your own mortality at 29, so I keep things in a lot better perspective because of that. There’s a tradition in Judaism (my degree is in comparative religion) where you break off a piece of bread dough and burn it as an offering to God before you make the loaves, and I love that, because the idea is that you’re giving your sacrifice before you know how it turns out and God honors your effort, not the outcome.  As moms, we’re working every day on these little people and we’re not really able to see the outcome yet, but I believe that God accepts our efforts in much the same way. We’re all just trying our best.

13. What’s you favorite color?
Grey. And glitter. 
14. What kind of car do you drive?
A Dodge Grand Caravan.  If you would have told me that a minivan would become my dream car, I probably would’ve jumped off the Empire State Building in my junior year of high school, but I really do love it.  I wish it had the automatic sliding doors, though, because my children’s friends are super confused by the fact that they have to shut the doors themselves.
15. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
This question legitimately seems like something you got from my children to torture me with.  They love asking me random, frequently ridiculous, hypothetical questions. I refuse this question on principle.

Manassas City officials pause each May to recognize businesses

With roughly 1,600 establishments, the City of Manassas is fortunate to have a thriving base of business and industry to support the local economy. 

These businesses provide essential employment opportunities, generate tax revenues, and make other significant contributions to our community that improves the quality of life of our citizens.

It is for this reason, City officials pause each May to recognize businesses and express gratitude for their unique role in enhancing the economy. 

More than 100 businesses gathered at the Center for the Arts yesterday morning for the City’s 4th Annual Business Appreciation Breakfast.  This is a rare opportunity for City officials, community leaders and businesses of all sizes to engage one another and make lasting connections. 

Dr. Scott Ralls, President of Northern Virginia Community College provided keynote remarks on the critical role of higher education in economic development.  He specifically focused on new initiatives and programs at the college to better support the workforce needs of local employers. 

The City’s Department of Economic Development also released its Annual Report which provides highlights of new and expanding businesses as well as key performance indicators used to track our progress.  Most of these are trending in the right direction. 

The employment rate closed the year at 96.5% (by all measures extremely high), household incomes and median home prices rose, the number of business establishments increased, meals and sales tax receipts went up and the number of visitors to Manassas increased year over year. 

For read the full report or learn more about how the City supports its business community, visit

For Anderson, congestion relief on I-95 comes with improving the shoulder


Over the last two years, I have held six community meetings specifically on traffic congestion mitigation in or near the Occoquan District. Several solutions were suggested by residents including improvements to I-95 from the Route 123 interchange to the Prince William Parkway interchange. 

Prince William County commuters suffer from the current configuration of I-95 south over the Occoquan River. As it stands today, traveling south, I-95 has four through lanes as you approach the I-95/Route 123 interchange.

The 4th lane abruptly ends at the same time as the exit ramp onto Route 123 pulls away. This effectively creates a two-lane reduction over about 200-300 meters. Moreover, the short acceleration ramp onto I-95 south from Route 123 creates a dangerous weaving motion that exacerbates the congestion.

To address these concerns I supported the Prince William County Board of Supervisors proposal to widen I-95 and apply for 2016 Smart Scale funding, which is the primary state funding source for transportation projects. This proposal was unsuccessful in its bid for several reasons.

One primary challenge was a conflict with the existing HOT lanes contract (Transurban) for I-95 that limits future expansion of general-purpose lanes on I-95. Once the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) made this determination, I began working toward an alternate plan with elected officials at the Federal, State, and Local level as well as senior representatives from Prince William County Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, and Transurban.

My new goal was to determine what project could be proposed for 2018 Smart Scale funding that would dramatically improve the safety and quality of life for commuters on I-95 southbound and secondary roads, without creating a new lane.

My office is working directly with all previously mentioned organizations as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation on a new proposal that creates a reinforced shoulder between the Route 123 interchange and the Prince William Parkway interchange. This will eliminate the need for cars entering I-95 southbound to merge quickly into traffic. The impacts of the proposed improvements are still being studied, but they would potentially make this section of road safer, improve the flow of traffic by reducing accidents, and make trips on the road more reliable for commuters. This project has been submitted for Federal funds with plans to submit for state funds this fall. 

Editors note: A reinforced shoulder will allow the pavement to carry the weight of more cars on the highway, similar to Red X lanes on Interstate 66.

You should know about Alamo’s strict no-texting, talking policy before the theater opens next month

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