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Prince William schools opening two hours late Monday

On Friday, and rightly so, Prince Willam County Public Schools were closed for high winds that wreaked havoc on the region falling trees, blowing shingles off homes, as well blowing the water out of Neabsco Creek. 

Today, Prince William County Public Schools will open two hours late in large part due to the nightmare traffic scenario anticipated to unfold on area roads Monday morning. 

A portion of Interstate 95 south at Potomac Mills will be closed as the mall’s towering 140-foot sign, damaged by Friday’s winds, began to lean. Fearing it may fall, authorities closed a portion of the highway to prevent it from striking a vehicle should it come down. 

School officials in Prince William say this situation, and the fact that some schools are still without power will open late. 

From the school division:

PWCS will open 2 hours late Monday, March 5, to help Prince William County manage post-storm traffic issues, and allow inspection of all schools. SACC will open 2 hours late.

Patriot HS and T Clay Wood Elementary remain without power. Monitor web, email and social media for status of those schools.

 

Updated: Potomac Mills sign removed, I-95 lanes reopening

Updated 9:35 p.m. 

The sign has been removed. The latest from VDOT: 

VDOT has been advised that the sign has been removed; VDOT crews are working to reopen all lanes within the hour. 95 Express Lanes will operate on a regular schedule Monday morning.

Original post

Southbound portion of highway remains closed 

Like most Monday mornings on Interstate 95, you’re going to need to pack your patience. 

But unlike most Monday mornings, there is a 140-foot sign for a shopping mall that could fall on the highway. At least that remained a possibility at the time I posted this. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation issued this statement: 

I-95 drivers are asked to be aware of the following:

  • Southbound I-95 is being diverted onto the 95 Express Lanes, where tolls are currently suspended.
  • By about 6 a.m. Monday, the 95 Express Lanes will open northbound with tolling in place. Southbound I-95 traffic should follow signed detours.
  • Following the morning rush hour, the 95 Express Lanes will open to southbound traffic around 10:30 a.m. for the duration of the day. If the southbound general purpose lanes are still closed, 95 Express Lanes’ tolls will be suspended.
  • On I-395, High Occupancy Vehicle 3 rules remain in place for both rush hours.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) encourages drivers to plan for major impacts in both directions by taking alternate routes, carpooling, vanpooling, riding transit, teleworking or staying at home.

The section of interstate was closed for safety on Friday, March 2, when the 140-foot-tall, privately owned Potomac Mills shopping center sign began leaning in extremely high winds.

VDOT continues to support road closures for the mall’s removal of the sign that is adjacent to the interstate, and remains on standby to re-open lanes as soon as it is safely removed. Work by the mall is contingent on safe wind levels for crane contractors.

Until the sign is safely removed, the following closures also remain in place:

  • The ramps from Prince William Parkway as well as southbound Route 123 to southbound I-95
  • The southbound I-95 Express Lanes ramp to Dale Boulevard
  • Telegraph Road between Prince William Parkway and Opitz Boulevard

While the sign is not owned or maintained by the Commonwealth, VDOT, along with the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, Virginia State Police and Prince William County Police are partnering to support the operation.

VDOT will provide updates as soon as they are available atwww.virginiadot.org/novaemergency.

It’s a bizarre story that I followed all weekend, and its the first time I’ve seen VDOT make a dedicated website for a situation like this. As a matter of fact, it’s the first time I’ve covered a situation like this.

The large sign for Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge began leaning on Friday afternoon after the region was battered by wind gusts that exceeded 60 mph. 

The sits on a privately owned piece of property between I-95 south and Telegraph Road. Virginia State Police and VDOT crews monitored throughout the weekend from a mobile command center parked next to the IKEA store.

Two juvenile suspects arrested for school burglary

From the Prince William police report:

Burglary to a School *ARRESTS – On February 27, officers with the Town of Dumfries Police Department located and arrested the 17-year-old male who was wanted for a burglary to Graham Park Middle School located at 3613 Graham Park Rd on February 22. Upon further investigation, detectives with the Property Crimes Unit also identified the second suspect involved, identified as a 14-year-old male, and arrested him without incident. Detectives believe that these two suspects may be involved in multiple burglaries and auto thefts in the Dumfries and Triangle areas. Additional charges are pending. The investigation continues.

Arrested on February 27: [Juveniles]

A 17-year-old male of Dumfries

A 14-year-old male of Dumfries

Charged with burglary

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

Burglary to a School [Previously Released] – On February 22 at 8:43AM, officers responded to Graham Park Middle School located at 3613 Graham Park Rd in Triangle (22172) to investigate a burglary. The investigation revealed that two male suspects climbed onto the roof and accessed a door from an interior courtyard that was left unsecured. The suspects took multiple computer tablets and an undisclosed amount of money from the school’s library. Upon further investigation, officers were able to identify one of the suspects as a 17-year-old juvenile male of Dumfries and obtained petitions for his arrested. Attempts to locate the 17-year-old juvenile male have been unsuccessful. The investigation continues.

 

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: icanbikepwcvolunteer.eventbrite.com. 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: volunteer@asnv.org 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: smitchell@casacis.org 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: haymarketfoodpantry.org

·         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: www.whatsupwoodbridge.com 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: sue.davejohnson@gmail.com

·         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: pwtsc.org to register and get all the specifics for the day. Please email Ed at efdandar@verizon.net 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 arcgpw.org 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: bishopseventregistrations.com

 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 www.volunteerprincewilliam.org. 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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