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Over the Fencepost Newsletter

Community Focus

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Coles District Community Focus:

Press Releases

County Receives Additional Funding for Transportation Projects

​Prince William County recently got word that it will be receiving $244 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, or NVTA, for transportation projects over the next six years.

The money will help with seven projects across the county, said Rick Canizales, the director of the county’s Department of Transportation. “It is a great piece of news for the county.”

The projects, with one underway and others set to enter design and planning phases within the next five to six years, include:

  • Route 28 corridor roadway improvements (City of Manassas to Fairfax County)
  • Construction of an innovative interchange at Route 234 and Brentsville Road
  • Construction of an innovative interchange at Prince William Parkway and University Boulevard
  • Improvements to Route 28 between Fitzwater Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Extending Summit School Road and widening Telegraph Road
  • Route 28 corridor feasibility study
  • Construction of an innovative interchange at Prince William Parkway and Clover Hill Road

A project to widen U.S. 1 between Brady’s Hill and Dumfries Roads in the Town of Dumfries is also included on the list of NVTA-funded projects.

The NVTA was created in 2002 by the Virginia General Assembly as a regional body to develop the regional transportation plan and to address transportation issues in Northern Virginia. The NVTA manages public funds for transportation projects designed to reduce congestion throughout the region. In July 2013, the General Assembly increased the Regional Sales Tax, Grantor’s Tax and Transient Occupancy Tax in Northern Virginia, with the proceeds mandated to be used for transportation projects in Northern Virginia, and to provide the revenue stream for the NVTA.

Money received by NVTA are split into two pots or categories and are classified as 30-percent and 70-pecent funding. The NVTA releases 70 percent of its total revenues, as available, on a competitive basis to fund rated transportation projects that fit in the authority’s regional long-range plan. The remaining 30 percent of revenues are distributed to member jurisdictions, on a pro rata basis, for transportation projects and purposes.

Canizales said the funding will help the county with its extensive transportation projects. “This is from the 70 percent regional source. Our program right now is nearing the $1 billion mark in the five- to six-year program, if you include all of our funding.”

For more information about transportation projects in the county, visit pwcgov.org/transportation.

Parenting Help from the Virginia Cooperative Extension

As the saying goes, parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. So the Prince William Office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, or VCE, are offering classes to help parents in all stages of child rearing.

Experts leading the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, or STEP, classes will offer guidance to help people learn parenting techniques for children of all ages, said Rozlyn Giddens, parent education volunteer coordinator for VCE. “Our classes are educational. They’re led by professional volunteers. Many of them are retired school teachers. They’ve worked in social work, counseling and other areas in the community.”
The classes will meet for two hours one night a week for seven weeks to offer tips for parents of children that are different age groups. There are classes for parents of young children between the ages of birth to five years, school-age children between 6 and 12, and teens 13 and older, according to Giddens.
Giddens, who volunteered for three years as a facilitator in the program, said parents have questions about child development, communication skills, self-esteem issues and discipline. “We deal with discipline. Some parents aren’t sure about how to discipline their kids. That’s a challenge that parents want guidance on. They also want to know what’s realistic to expect from their kids at certain ages and stages. The classes can help parents understand behavior and why our kids do what they do.”
The classes also touch on external influences that can negatively affect children, Giddens said. “Our kids are exposed to so much more, so much younger. We want to capitalize on the needs of children that parents are hopefully sensing.”
Upcoming classes include a class for parents of school-age children between July 10 and Aug. 21 at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building at 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge. A class for parents of young children is scheduled for June 19 through July 31 at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center, 14300 Minnieville Road in Woodbridge.
Classes in Spanish, which is available for all ages, will run from Aug. 9 through Sept. 20 at the Sudley North Government Building at 7987 Ashton Ave. in Manassas. A second class in Spanish will run between Aug. 13 and Oct. 1 at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building.
Classes run between 7 and 9 p.m. Registration for the classes, with a $40 fee to cover the costs of materials, is required. All fees must accompany the registration form. Credit cards will not be accepted. Class registration closes at 1 p.m. on the first day of the class.
Other classes will be scheduled for later dates. For more information, call VCE at 703-792-6288.

Don’t Blow It! Have a Fun and Safe Fourth of July

Fourth of July fireworks are as American as apple pie and ice cream. But, while apple pie and ice cream don’t pose too much of a threat to safety, fireworks do.

Each year, more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year and two out of every five of those fires are fireworks related, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires annually across the nation and that number includes 1,300 structural fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,000 other fires outside, according to the association.

Annually, there are thousands of fireworks-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms across the country, with roughly 67 percent of those injuries occurring between June 20 and July 20, according to the association.

Fireworks, even the ones that are legal to buy in the area, can be dangerous if used improperly, according to a Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue press release.

To help people stay safe during the summer and on the Fourth of July, the county’s Fire Marshal suggests the following safety tips:

  • Fireworks should only be used under adult supervision.
  • Fireworks should only be used outdoors on a driveway, sidewalk or other fire-resistant surface. Remember, fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.
  • Never ignite fireworks during high winds where flying sparks can start a fire. Keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks start a fire.
  • Be sure children around fireworks know to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire.
  • Deposit sparklers in a metal container as they may be stepped on while hot.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction or fail to go off.
  • Do not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket. Pets may be frightened by the noise and lights of fireworks; keep pets inside or away from the area when in use.

Prince William County encourages people to find a comfortable place to spread a blanket, enjoy a picnic, and leave the fireworks displays to the professionals.

Places in the county where fireworks displays are scheduled include:

Old Town Manassas
703-361-6599
www.visitmanassas.org
Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m.

G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium – Home of the Potomac Nationals
7 County Complex Court
Woodbridge
703-590-2311
www.facebook.com/potomacnationals
Fireworks after the game

Signal Hill Park
9300 Signal View Drive
Manassas Park
703-335-8875
Fireworks begin at Dusk

Dual Left-Hand Turn Lanes Get Traffic Moving on Route 234

Drivers on Route 234 should start to see traffic improvements around Hoadly Road. The Prince William County Department of Transportation recently completed a project that added an additional left-turn lane from Route 234 onto Hoadly Road.

“We’ve doubled the capacity of this intersection by allowing there to be two left-turn lanes that can be received onto Hoadly Road,” said Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe. “It’s already having a huge impact in terms of moving more people through this intersection every day.”
Before the 600-foot turn lane was added, cars would back up into the travel lanes on Route 234, and people could sit through several light changes, blocking traffic.
Nohe said the problem had worsened over the last several years and severely delayed travel during evening commute times. “We’ve struggled with cars filling up the turn lane during the evening rush hour and spilling into the general purpose lane. By adding this second left-turn lane, we now have the ability to get those people out of the travel way, make traffic more free flowing on Route 234, but also make it more convenient those people who are trying to make that left turn and head toward Purcell Road and the Prince William Parkway.”
The improvement pleases Nohe on several fronts. “As someone who drives around 234 every day, I’m excited about the fact that traffic can move more freely through this already frequently congested intersection. As a member of the Board of County Supervisors, I’m even more excited about the fact that this project came in $380,000 under budget and was finished a month ahead of schedule.”
Nohe said the county’s transportation should be commended for getting the project, originally budgeted for $840,000, completed under budget. “I think it speaks for the Prince William County Transportation Department. When we take on a traffic improvement that might be a small one like this left-turn lane, or a major one like widening a … road or building a new intersection, that we’re frequently able to bring them in under budget, ahead of schedule and get people moving faster and less expensively than was original anticipated.”
For more information about transportation projects in the county, visit www.pwcgov.org/transportation.

Text-to-911 is Now Available

Calling is still the best way to contact 911 in an emergency, but in certain situations, a text might be better. The Prince William County Office of Public Safety Communications can now accept text-to-911 emergency messages from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless customers who find themselves needing assistance in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The service should only be used when someone has a physical disability or special need where calling is not possible or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger.

Certain communities will find text-to-911 particularly helpful, said Prince William Public Safety Communications Director Captain Alfred Miller. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, those with speech disabilities or who are unable to speak, and community service or suicide hotlines will find the service useful.

The texts can be up to 140 characters and should include the location and type of emergency. They should be short, with simple words, and without abbreviations or slang. People should be prepared to answer questions and follow directions provided by the 911 call taker. They should not text and drive.

Miller warned that there are some potential drawbacks to texting 911. “Just like any text message, there could be a delay in the pipeline sending it. It could be misdirected. There’s all kinds of things that could happen. It’s not as foolproof as calling 911. We always prefer to talk to people over the phone. What we’re trying to emphasize is ‘Call if you can. Text if you cannot.'” People who text a message to 911 and don’t receive an immediate response will need to make an emergency voice call.

Miller also warned that photos and videos cannot be sent via text-to-911; and the text cannot include more than one recipient, 911. The service won’t be available when cell service is in roaming mode and should not be used for non-emergencies. Rather, those types of incidents should be reported through the Police non-emergency phone number, 703-792-6500.

While text-to-911 is available in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., it is not available everywhere in Virginia and the United States. If a person texts 911 and the service is not available, the person will receive a response stating that the service is not available and they should call 911. A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.

For more information about text-to-911, visit www.pwcgov.org/pscc.

“Click It or Ticket” Seatbelt Enforcement Begins on May 22nd

Regular seatbelt use saves lives, according to the “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt enforcement campaign.

Prince William County Police join law enforcement agencies throughout Virginia in the “Click It or Ticket” campaign to enforce the Commonwealth’s safety-belt and child safety-seat laws. The Department will participate in high-visibility patrols – day and night – from Monday, May 22, through Sunday, June 4 (which includes the Memorial Day holiday weekend).

Seat belts are mandatory in Virginia for all persons riding in the front seat. Virginia car seat laws also state that:
• All children under the age of eight must ride in a federally approved, secured safety seat.
• Children between eight and 15 must use a safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt,
no matter where in the vehicle the child is riding.
• It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all children, age 15 and under, are secured properly.

Virginia law allows police to cite anyone driving a car in which an occupant under age 16 is not wearing a safety belt, or is not in a child safety seat. It also provides that drivers may be cited if they are not properly restrained if stopped for other violations.

“Click It or Ticket” is one of several programs under the Smart, Safe and Sober partnership. Smart, Safe and Sober is a statewide program dedicated to preventing death and injury on Virginia roadways. It is a partnership of the Prince William County Police, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Department of State Police, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, DRIVE SMART Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Unless you want to risk a ticket, or worse, always remember to “Click It or Ticket,” day and night.