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Stafford News

A single lane a positive sign for E-ZPass commuters on I-95

STAFFORD — It took $50 million to build one lane, and today it opened.

The 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes have been extended just past Garrisonville Road. Now, drivers have the option of getting off on Garrisonville Road, or staying in the express toll lanes — or in this case lane — to head south and merge back into the main travel lanes of Interstate 95 before Courthouse Road.

“We know we have more work to do on I-95, as recent congestion reports have reminded us, but this Express Lanes extension is the first step in a series of projects to unlock gridlock along I-95 through the Fredericksburg region,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne in a press release.

Before today, this area has been a contention point on the Express Lanes when carrying drivers south to Fredericksburg. Traffic had to merge down to one lane to exit the express lanes via a flyover ramp before Garrisonville Road, at what was the end of the toll lane facility.

The merge caused major backups in a toll lane that can cost as much as $20 or more to use, one way. 

The new lane adds capacity to the express lanes and is one of the multiple projects in the works to hopefully break up some of the congestion — recently ranked as some of the worst in the nation.

The new lane will carry drivers north in the mornings and south in the afternoons each weekday, south on Saturdays from midnight to 2 p.m., and then north from 4 p.m. to midnight. On Sundays, the lane will carry drivers north.

It will operate under the same rules as the rest of the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes — tolled at all times by electronic E-ZPass, and vehicle with three or more occupants ride free. (more…)

FREE class at Manassas Park Community Center offers money-saving tips, saving strategies

When you hear the term financial planning, you probably roll your eyes and think to yourself that only rich people need to worry about financial planning. While it is true that certain financial planning topics certainly are for the rich (think Estate Tax), when you really think about it, don’t we all need to manage our money.

Because it is, after all, our money.

So, how can the average person work out a system to manage his or her money? Here at the Manassas Park Community Center, we offer FREE financial classes taught by financial professionals from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. These experts offer practical advice to area residents of all professional and economic levels to learn strategies to manage their money and to make their money work for them!

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is the cooperation of local, state, and federal governments in partnership with tens of thousands of citizens to help strengthen families and to help protect the environment. Based on research conducted at Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, these partnerships help everyday citizens in many areas of their lives, including financial planning and gardening.

Concepts of financial planning can be complex, so the financial planning experts from the Virginia Cooperative Extension suggest starting small and taking baby steps toward your goal. A good way to begin to manage your money is to create a budget for yourself. You can find several apps online to help you, or you can do it the old-fashioned way. Get a blank sheet of paper. Write the word budget across the top of that blank sheet of paper. During the course of a week, write everything, yes EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE you spend money: Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, breakfast at the deli, gas, tolls, parking fees, lunch, rent, car payments, insurance payments, the list is endless! (more…)

Three suspects arrested after use of fake credit cards in Stafford

From Stafford County Sheriff’s Office:

Stafford, VA. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office arrested three suspects on Saturday morning in connection with an incident involving the use of fake credit cards at a convenience store in North Stafford.

On October 28, 2017 at approximately 6:08 a.m., a Stafford deputy responded to a call at Kangaroo Express near Garrisonville Road. The caller advised that a man had attempted to make a $68 purchase using a fake credit card and driver’s license. The man left the store in a white vehicle after the caller confronted him about the fake cards. The deputy ran the license number and discovered it belonged to a deceased individual. (more…)

13 things to do this Halloween to prepare winter’s horror

Some winters in the Washington area can be scary, and some of them downright horrifying.

Remember 2010? Snomageddon? Our region was buried underneath as much as 32 inches of snow. There even was more in some places.

So, while last year’s winter season didn’t come close to that nightmare, anything can happen this year.

The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative is urging homeowners to take these 13 steps this Halloween week to prepare for the winter season that lurking just around the corner.

1. Batts in the Belfry

The U.S. Department of Energy says insulating is the most cost-effective way to reduce energy bills 10-50 percent. Insulate the attic floor with R60 fiberglass batts, loose-fill, rigid-foam, or spray-foam insulation. Install an insulated cover over pull-down stairs. Do not cover or block soffit vents, wires, motors or recessed lights. Consult an expert to determine the best insulation for the home’s construction.

2. Caulk Cracks

Caulk masonry cracks in walls and between the house and concrete foundation. Seal openings around plumbing pipes, ducts, vents, chimneys, and anything that goes through floors, walls, ceilings, and roof with caulk or insulating spray foam. (more…)

The Mantle Coffee Shoppe will offer drinks, snacks

A new coffee shop will replace the old Saladelis eatery at the Shoppes at North Stafford on Route 610. 

This will be the second business in the mostly vacant shopping center at the corner of Garrisonville Road and Tech Parkway. An Anytime Fitness location also sites inside the quiet shopping plaza. 

From The Mantle Coffee Shoppe:

Two pleasures we will always enjoy is sipping a good drink, whether hot or cold, and making memories with families and friends. The Mantle Coffee Shoppe is excited about offering both to the Stafford community. The shop will also be offering a variety of fresh baked goods from local vendors as well as sandwiches and salads made fresh daily to meet lunchtime needs.

The Mantle is a faith based shop which offers a cozy Kidz Korner for your child to play as you converse with your friends or listen to local Christian artists as they minister through their music. The Mantle is committed to offering careers and skill development in hospitality and their recruitment drive has hired twenty- five local people to meet the needs of the business.

In a time where coffee shops dominate the area, The Mantle is looking forward to delivering the ultimate family experience to include Afternoon Tea complete with scones, clotted cream and jam, and finger sandwiches. Friday nights will be exciting with karaoke for the local students. Hot dogs and drinks named after all the area schools will be featured. The Nosar family, the Tonkin family, and The Mantle employees are excited to be part of such a wonderful community and look forward to seeing you soon!

‘It was the murder of her younger brother which brought such intense grief into her life that she gained 170 pounds’

Aubrey Dewey had lost hope. And not just hope at being able to lose weight. She had lost hope in life.

When you ask her what she would tell her younger self now that she’s on the other side of her weight-loss surgery, her words are full of grace and empathy.

Aubrey’s strength and wisdom are apparent, and we see that this journey was about so much more than reclaiming her physical body; it was and continues to be, about re-establishing her sense of self-worth and self-love.

“I would first look at [my younger self] who is in so much pain and has lost all hope for anything better in life and tell her that she’s worth this effort [of weight-loss]. I would tell her that it’s okay to move forward. Healing doesn’t equal forgetting the one that was taken from you. I would tell her that freedom from a body that has become a prison feels better than she could ever begin to imagine. I would tell her that she absolutely can do this and that she’s going to see just how strong she really is.”

Aubrey gained this perspective through her work with the community at the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. The program became a safe space for Aubrey where she found the courage to face the intense pain that spurred her weight-gain.

Unlike many people who have life-long struggles with obesity, Aubrey spent most of her life at a normal weight. It was the murder of her younger brother which brought such intense grief into her life that she gained 170 pounds. At her peak before surgery, she weighed 340 pounds. For ten years, food was her haven, and her weight was a survival mechanism. (more…)

Stafford county to reduce class sizes for middle schools

From Stafford County Public Schools:

STAFFORD, VA – Stafford County Public Schools announces improvement in middle school class sizes for 2017-2018 school year. As of September 30, 2017, middle school enrollment increased by 150 students since September 30, 2016. Compared to 2016-2017, the number of core classes with 20 or fewer students decreased by 36 and the number of core classes with 28 or more students decreased
by 34. The number of core classes with 21-27 students increased by 90 classes.

In comparing the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 average class size by department level, SCPS slightly decreased the overall average in every core subject area except English, which increased by one from 24.9 last year to 25.9 this year. Additional information is included in the 2017-2018 Stafford County Public Schools’ Class Size Report. For more information on Stafford County Public Schools’ Class Size Report, please log onto and click on the October 24 agenda under School Board.

Caregivers strive to reduce bath-time challenges for seniors

When it comes to helping older adults remain in their homes, bathing can be a challenging issue. But Tessa Lamb of Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas and Herndon has found those concerns can be overcome with the right combination of compassion and experience.

Lamb has been working with seniors since 1996, as long as she’s been a licensed practical nurse. During that time, she realized there are identifiable, key issues that impact bath time. By recognizing and addressing these concerns, home care providers can help their clients age with greater hope and success.

Respecting privacy and independence

Over the years, Lamb has worked with seniors aged 65 up to “the beautiful young age” of 96 who wanted to age in place. That taught her the value of having a good relationship with her clients, she said.

“They all cherish their independence,” she said. “Getting into and out of a shower can be difficult as we age and become less flexible. Many times requiring the standby assistance of a home health aid can be very daunting.”

At the same time, privacy is a key concern for clients. “They have been taking care of themselves for over 60 or more years and now someone needs to help them shower,” she explained. “This can be both frustrating and embarrassing.”

Neither giving nor receiving this kind of care is easy. That’s why cultivating a positive relationship is crucial to protect the dignity of those receiving care, as well as to enhance the quality of life for both seniors and their families throughout the caregiving experience.

Recognizing changes in sensory perception

As people age, the acuteness of the senses decreases, and that can have ramifications for both the person who is bathing and the person who is helping with the process. For example, Lamb pointed out, the ears serve two purposes – hearing and maintaining balance – so the loss of sensitivity affects balance as well as hearing. That can have a significant impact when it comes to bath time.

“If your balance is off, you are not going to want to go onto a wet, slippery surface,” she said.

The same holds true when it comes to vision loss. “The bathroom is a major fall risk area, and thus a very scary place for seniors,” Lamb explained.

Other senses also come into play. When the sense of touch changes, it can result in decreased temperature sensitivity. That means it can be difficult to tell the difference between water that is cool or cold and water that is hot or warm.

When the sense of smell is lessened, seniors might not be able to smell the odor of their body when they have not taken a shower in several days or weeks. Understanding these changes in sensory perception and how they affect a person’s ability or willingness to bathe can help offset concerns a senior may have when it comes to bath time.

Accounting for fatigue or dementia

Another factor that can impact the bathing process is the fatigue that can accompany many of the medical conditions or illnesses that seniors may develop. Even medications can cause people to become tired easily.

Helping bathe clients with dementia and memory impairment requires particular care, Lamb said. “It is very, very important to establish a rapport, trust and a relationship with them before any major task can be performed,” she explained. “Consistency is also key because of the short-term memory loss.”

In Lamb’s experience, a little bit of empathy goes a long way when it comes to overcoming the challenges surrounding bath time. “I recommend that you show seniors love, kindness, patience, respect – and allow them time,” she said. “Give them choices.”

Perhaps a client isn’t up to a bath at a particular moment. That’s when a caregiver should offer alternatives, such as a sponge bath, a warm face cloth, a chair bath or even a bed bath. The bottom line is that there are many options. A good caregiver will understand and offer alternatives, while also respecting the client’s concerns.

“There is also the option of ‘just not today,’” Lamb said. “It is more important to establish a relationship and build trust first than try to obtain the goal of a bath.”

For more information on Home Instead Senior Care in Manassas and to sign up for their newsletter with other helpful articles, visit their website.

Authorities seize ‘substantial amount of heroin’ in Aquia Harbour

From the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office: 

A heroin overdose at a residence in the Aquia Harbour neighborhood on Monday led to multiple arrests and the seizure of a substantial amount of heroin by detectives with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

On October 16, 2017, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Stafford deputies responded to a call regarding a heroin overdose in North Stafford. The caller advised that a 21-year-old female identified as Kayla Bailey was unconscious and turning purple, but still breathing.

When the deputies arrived on the scene, members of the Aquia Harbour Police Department and Stafford County Fire and Rescue were providing emergency aid to Bailey. She was revived using Narcan and transported to Stafford Hospital for treatment.

Two other individuals—Jessica Corley, 24, and Brandon Ostrem, 38—were found at the scene and detained.  

Detectives conducted a search of the residence and uncovered evidence of drug use including six grams of methamphetamine, 20 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) pills, and heroin residue. During the investigation, they learned that a third subject had left with a small safe prior to their arrival.

On the following day, detectives located the subject that had fled the residence and they recovered more than 10 grams of heroin. They also discovered that an individual in Spotsylvania County had overdosed on that same batch of heroin earlier in the day.

Corley received two charges of Possession of Controlled Substances. She was incarcerated at Rappahannock Regional Jail on a $3500 secured bond and later released. Ostrem received three charges of Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances and was incarcerated at Rappahannock Regional Jail.

Additional charges are pending following the investigation.