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Wilson, Jr.

A teacher who works at Rippon Middle School and lives at a nearby elementary school faces a weapons charge.

The suspect lives in an apartment at Covington Harper Elementary School near Dumfries, about six miles from Rippon Middle School, and had guns and ammunition inside the apartment, sources said.

Administrators at Covington Harper Elementary School were tipped to the weapons by a resident near the school. A postal employee dropped a package addressed to the school at the neighbor’s house. The neighbor opened the package to find ammunition and took the package to the school.

Police said they searched the suspect’s at-school apartment and found guns and accessories on Tuesday, August 9. Police confiscated the weapons, which the suspect never brandished on school property.

Robert Wilson Jr., 37, is charged with possessing a firearm on school grounds, police said.

Wilson, Jr. is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Most public schools in Prince William County School have someone living inside. Security residents are typically school teachers who work for the county school division, said spokeswoman Diana Gulotta.

The residents monitor the school grounds for alarms and respond to after-hours emergencies.

“For example, if there is a power issue or water leak, the school security resident would proactively alert the Division. Additionally, the school security resident performs routine security checks of the building,” said Gulotta.

Prince William County law enforcement officers may also be school security residents.

Gulotta said residents receive a background check and other specialized training.

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Students at Rodney Thompson Middle School in Stafford County [Photo: Stafford County Public Schools]
Students at public schools across our region today, including Stafford County and Manassas City, are headed back to class.

Manassas will welcome back 7,600 students at five elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one middle school, and one high school.

It’s the first time in two years that students will return to schools without facemask or social distancing requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Stafford County, teachers are welcoming back students from all grade levels for the division’s first official day of school. Yesterday, kindergarten, sixth, and ninth-grade students were welcomed to their respective schools to learn the layout, meet up with friends, and attend a pep rally during the division’s first “transition day.”

It’s the first time Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor welcomed the division’s more than 31,000 children to class on the first day of school since he took the job in December 2021. Taylor also enrolled his two children in the school division after moving to the area from Chesterfield County.

During a Stafford County School Board meeting on Tuesday, August 9, members remarked that it had been years since a sitting superintendent had children enrolled in the system.

Schools in Spotsylvania County also reopened today, welcoming back about 24,000 students, while Fredericksburg City Public Schools reopened to more than 3,500 students.

School divisions across the region are facing shortages of teachers and bus drivers.

Prince William County Public Schools, the state’s second-largest division, hired 900 new teachers for the new school year. The division is short 300 teachers, states Superintendent Dr. LaTanya McDade.

Prince William County Public Schools reopen on August 22, welcoming back more than 90,000 students.

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[Updated 10:50 a.m.] A fire broke out at home on Roundtree Drive in Dale City shortly before 8 a.m.

No one was injured.

Firefighters found smoke and fire showing from a single-family house at the intersection of Rector Drive.

The occupants of the home escaped unharmed before fire crews arrived. The bulk of the fire was in the basement, said Prince William County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Matt Smolksy.

The home sustained extensive damage, and the county’s Building Official declared the structure unsafe to occupy, said Smolksy.

The American Red Cross is on the scene to assist the seven adults and 1 child displaced by the fire. The Fire Marshal’s Office is still on the scene, determining the cause of the blaze.

The Fire Marshal’s Office strongly recommends the installation, maintenance, and regular testing of smoke detectors in all homes. A working smoke detector provides adequate warning allowing you to safely escape the dangers of a fire, said Smolksy.

Have photos? Please send by email.

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Virignia Govenror Glenn Youngkin [Photo: Uriah Kiser]
By Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) – Twenty-one Republican governors called the Inflation Reduction Act “another reckless tax and spending spree” in a joint statement released Thursday.

The legislation passed by the Senate, dubbed the “Democrats spending bill” by Republicans, would reduce the federal deficit, Senate Democrats said in a summary.

But the $740 billion bill would hurt all Americans, the Republican governors said.

“While denying recession, Democrats want to raise taxes on businesses and manufacturers, which will force higher costs onto consumers, worsen inflation, and aggravate shortages,” they said in the letter. “With sky high prices at the pump, the last thing Americans need is for Democrats to punish energy producers, which will ultimately hurt working families struggling to pay for gas, goods, food, and utilities.”

Democrats maintain the measure would reduce inflation by investing taxpayer dollars into domestic energy production and manufacturing and lowering carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Republicans have maintained that Biden’s policies hindered energy production in the oil and gas industry, leading to record high gas prices this summer, which in part contributed to 40-year high inflation. They point to the president’s executive orders ending new leases for oil production on federal lands, ending the Keystone Pipeline construction and other restrictions on the industry.

Democrats say their bill also would allow Medicaid to negotiate prescription drug prices, something critics say will discourage investment in new treatments. The Affordable Care Act also would be extended for three years under Democrats’ plans. The bill also includes up to $7,500 in tax credits on the purchase of an electric or fuel cell vehicle made in America.

Large corporations would be required to pay a minimum 15% tax and the measure would not raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year, according to remarks by President Joe Biden.

The joint statement opposing the Inflation Reduction Act was made by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, Ga. Gov. Brian Kemp, Ala. Gov. Kay Ivey, Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey, Ark. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis, Idaho Gove. Brad Little, Ind. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Miss. Governor Tate Reeves, Mo. Gov Mike Parson, Mont. Gov. Greg Gianforte, Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts, N.D. Gov. Doug Burgum, N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu, Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt, Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Va. Gov. Glenn Younkin, and Wyo. Gov. Mark Gordon.

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Morning Notes

Nasdaq falls 1.19% as negative Micron guidance weighs down tech stocks — U.S. markets declined as chip stocks continued to struggle Tuesday, dragging down the tech market…Tuesday’s decline came as shares of chipmaker Micron fell 3.74% after the company warned that its revenue could fall short of its prior guidance, citing “macroeconomic factors and supply chain constraints. [UPI]

OmniRide to host public hearings to discuss proposed changes to routes — The regional transportation provider aims to change routes along the Interstate 66 and 95 corridors, local routes, and routes that serve disabled residents. [Press release]

Spanberger talks supply chain in Stafford — As part of U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger supply-chain tour Monday, the 7th District representative stopped by the McLane Company warehouse in Stafford County. [Fredericksburg.com]

Virginia weighs changes to ‘fuzzy’ recall system that lets judges remove local officials — Activists in Virginia are increasingly turning to the state’s court-driven recall process to try to take out their frustrations on local officials they feel have done something wrong. In Prince William County, activists have launched recall efforts against two county supervisors over their alleged connections to the data-center industry as the county considers a massive data center project.” [Virginia Mercury]

Stafford education group requests response to convocation that sent 8 to hospital — The Stafford Education Association is requesting that the school division make restitution payments to staff following Friday’s convocation event, during which 80 individuals required medical treatment due to soaring temperatures. [Fredericksburg.com]

Friends of the Occoquan Fall River Clean-Up 2022 — The Friends of the Occoquan team and mascot Sheba invite you to come out and be a River Hero at its annual Fall River clean up. [Press release]

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Cao with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

(The Center Square) – Republican congressional candidate Hung Cao condemned the raid on Mar-a-Lago, the home of former President Donald Trump.

Federal agents raided Trump’s home in Florida on Monday, August 9, searching for documents.

“I join Republican Leader McCarthy in conveying, in no uncertain terms, that Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice will be compelled to provide answers to the many questions surrounding this unprecedented raid of a former President’s home,” said Cao in a statement to press. “I came to the United States as a refugee from a communist country, grew up in West Africa, and have served our country all over the world. I have seen this weaponization of law enforcement and the intelligence community for political purposes in failed states.”

Cao is a retired Navy captain, and a refugee from Vietnam. He’s running to unseat Jennifer Wexton (D-Va., 10) who represents portions of western Prince William County, and Loudoun County.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s two U.S. senators are warning of the “weaponization” of the U.S. Department of Justice after the FBI on Monday raided former president Donald Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago estate.

They did so after the former president announced on his Truth Social platform that his home was “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents” over a document dispute. The raid was unannounced, “not necessary or appropriate” and “prosecutorial misconduct,” Trump said.

The White House, Department of Justice, and FBI have yet to release a statement in response to numerous media inquiries.

DeSantis issued a statement from his campaign Twitter account, saying, “The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves. Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”

Florida’ senior U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, published a video message online, warning that the FBI’s tactics were like those of a third-world dictatorship.

“We’ve had divisive politics and anger in our politics for as long as this country’s existed,” Rubio said. “… But the one thing we’ve never had is we’ve never been a country where people who take power, like becoming president, now use that power to persecute their past or political opponents. We’ve never seen that until … the Justice Department under Joe Biden decided to raid … the home of the former president who might … be running against him …

“This is what happens in places like Nicaragua where last year every single person who ran against Daniel Ortega for president, every single person that put their name on the ballot, was arrested and is still in jail. That’s what you see in places like Nicaragua. We’ve never seen that before in America. You can try and diminish it, but that’s exactly what happened.”

The FBI agents weren’t looking for a fugitive, he said, or tracking down “some serial killer or drug kingpin,” but engaged in “a high-profile raid over a document dispute.”

Document disputes aren’t new, Rubio added.

“Multiple administrations have had disputes over the archival office over what is a presidential record and what isn’t,” he said. Sending 30 FBI agents was done for “one purpose … to try to politically harm and intimidate their political opponents.”

Pointing into the camera, presumably to President Joe Biden, Rubio said, “You’re playing with fire. This is dangerous. Because someone else will be in power one day and now you have created the precedent for them to do this back to you. And then we become the third world. And then we lose our country. And our system of government and the meaning of being one nation under a real constitution. This needs to stop.”

The people responsible for the raid, he said, Attorney General Merrick Garland and the director of the FBI, “need to be held to account for going along with something so undemocratic, unconstitutional, and flat out dangerous and destructive to our republic.”

He also pointed out that the FBI “isn’t doing anything about the groups vandalizing Catholic churches, firebombing pro-life groups or threatening Supreme Court justices.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said the FBI’s raid was “incredibly concerning, especially given the Biden admin’s history of going after parents and other political opponents. This is Third World country stuff. We need answers …”

In response to DeSantis’ statement, Florida Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for governor, said, “Your tweet is another escalation of your pathetic loyalty to an insurrectionist over country and the rule of law.”

The Democratic Party of Florida said of DeSantis, “This wanna be autocrat weaponizes every state agency against his enemies, targets marginalized communities for political gain, incarcerates people for protesting, while handing out billions of our tax dollars to his donors and raises taxes on us.”

It added, “Law and order though, right Ron? Aren’t you firing people for not following the law? How many laws does Trump have to break?”, referring to DeSantis removing a prosecutor who said he wouldn’t be enforcing state law.

Some social media users asked if DeSantis would work with local sheriffs to prevent FBI raids of Floridians in the future. The Florida Standard reported that the “DeSantis administration did not know about nor worked with FBI or DOJ on the Mar-a-Lago raid.”

The raid came two weeks after U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray, notifying them of FBI whistleblower allegations of a coordinated effort to cover up the alleged criminal activity of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

“If these allegations are true and accurate, the Justice Department and FBI are – and have been – institutionally corrupted to their very core to the point in which the United States Congress and the American people will have no confidence in the equal application of the law,” Grassley wrote, adding there were “systemic and existential problems within your agencies.”

Grassley sent a letter May 31 detailing alleged violations of federal laws by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault “based on a pattern of active public partisanship in his then public social media content.” Gressley requested information “so that Congress can perform an objective and independent review of the alleged misconduct,” but received no response.

The raid also came after multiple attorneys general sued the Justice Department after it began investigating parents who speak out at school board meetings, and without evidence, labeled them “domestic terrorists.”

One of the parents being investigated was a Florida-based Moms for Liberty advocate. Its founders said the DOJ “was using counter-terrorism authority under the PATRIOT Act to investigate parents of schoolchildren who were exercising their first amendment right to petition their local government for a redress of grievances.” The group warned that if law-abiding parents were being targeted by the FBI, anyone could be.

Potomac Local News contributed to this report.

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Fannie Fitzgerald Elementary School in Dale City. [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]
A new historical marker will honor four black female teachers chosen to integrate Prince William County Schools.

Called the “Courageous Four,” Fannie Fitzgerald, Mary Porter, Maxine Coleman, and Zella Brown took teaching positions in county public schools in 1964, about 10 years after the U.S. Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision that struck down segregation in schools.

Until then, the county schools had largely been segregated.

The Prince William County Historical Commission will unveil the marker at Fannie Fitzgerald Elementary School, 15500 Bentia Fitzgerald Drive in Dale City, at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 10.

Attendees should park at the Ferlazzo Government Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge. Shuttle buses will provide transportation to the unveiling ceremony.

Fitzgerald Elementary is named one of the Courageous Four. Another school in Woodbridge, Mary Porter Traditional School, is named after one of the original four teachers.

Rob Orrison of the Prince William County Historic Preservation Office interviewed Fitzgerald for an oral history project in 2008.

When I interviewed her, I had questions about the challenges she faced and how different the kids were back then. And she said, ‘kids are kids, they were no different,” Orrison told Potomac Local News.

Fitzgerald initially taught at the Macrae School, near Haymarket, originally established in 1870, and educated black children between 1914 and 1953. The school no longer stands.

Orrison said when compared to other jurisdictions forced to
integrate their schools, the process in Prince William County is considered one of the most successful classroom integrations.

The Prince William County Historical Commission approved the new marker a year ago.

Finally, the street on which Fannie Fitzgerald Elementary School sits is named after Fitzgerald’s daughter, Benita, who also has a historical marker erected in her honor.

Still living today, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley was an athlete on the U.S. Olympic Teams of 1980 and 1984. She graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge in 1979.

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The Fredericksburg Library at 1201 Caroline Street.

The Central Branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library is open again following a brief closure due to a malfunctioning air conditioner.

Management closed the library branch at 1201 Caroline Street in Fredericksburg at 1 p.m. Friday, August 5.

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[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]
Greetings, Prince William – We’re going to the Fair! Volunteer Prince William will be at the Prince William County Fair on August 12 thru 20, and we need volunteer Community Ambassadors to help at our resource table. Volunteers age 18 and up are needed; volunteers aged 12 thru 17 are welcome but must volunteer with a parent. Duties include handing out literature about our programs, answering questions, assist with raffle prizes. You’ll feel great sharing resources and talking to the public about our agency and how we support the community! Credit for service hours available. No experience is necessary, we’ll train you on the spot! Volunteers will receive a pass to access the fairgrounds during their volunteer shift. Volunteers will also receive a free t-shirt (while supplies last). To sign up, please visit https://bit.ly/2022FAIR. Please email[email protected] to learn more.

They Served Us – Now You Can Serve Them! Volunteer Prince William needs Volunteer Drivers aged 21+ who can provide transportation for veterans and their spouses/widow to medical appointments, supermarkets, retail, and houses of worship.  Volunteers must pass criminal background and driving record background checks, valid Virginia driver’s licenses, and have a vehicle liability insurance policy.  You’ll feel great as you provide transportation to veterans who otherwise struggle to meet their daily and medical needs and make new friends!  Please email [email protected] to learn how you can get involved.  This opportunity is made possible by a grant from Potomac Health Foundation.

Agape Love in Action (ALIA) is looking for hard-working volunteers age 18+ to help in their food bank located at 9501 Discovery Boulevard, Unit 165, Manassas 20109.  Volunteers will move/retrieve cases of canned goods to form organized groupings for recipient clients.  Be prepared to lift boxes that may weigh up to 30 pounds.  Volunteers are generally needed the last Friday before the last full week of the month.  Food distributions to the groups happen during the last week of the month.  You’ll feel great as you fight hunger by helping local families facing food insecurity!  Please email[email protected] to learn more.

Brain Injury Services is looking for a friendly volunteer who can spend time with an adult survivor of brain injury while enjoying gardening together at least twice a month.  The client lives in Lorton; training is provided.  Please email[email protected] or call 703.451.8881, ext. 232, to learn more.

Catholic Charities needs ESOL Teachers and Computer Literacy Teachers to teach virtually or in person in Manassas.  Teachers are only asked to teach one class period per week but may teach more if desired.  Teaching in pairs is allowed for those wishing to teach with a friend or spouse.  No experience or foreign language ability is necessary. All materials and training are provided! Please email [email protected] or call 571-208-1572 for more information.

For Children’s Sake (FCS) needs Foster Parents to open their homes and help youth in the community.  FCS trains and supports all families ongoing before, during, and after foster youth are in your home.  Their biggest need at this time is homes for youth ages 10-17.  Please contact Kelley at [email protected] or Stephanie at [email protected].  FCS is also looking for individuals and/or groups to coordinate the collection of school supplies for foster youth.  Please contact Stephanie at [email protected] to learn more.
Remote Volunteer Opportunity! 

Independence Empowerment Center (IEC) needs 5 volunteers aged 18+ to make phone calls to organizations in Fauquier County which serve persons with disabilities.  The purpose of the calls is to obtain the name and email address of a point of contact.  IEC wants to connect with organizations in Fauquier to assist with an outreach campaign promoting COVID vaccinations among persons with disabilities.  IEC will work with local health districts to provide barrier-free clinics in late fall.  Volunteers will be assigned ten organizations to contact; a script is provided.  Please email [email protected] or call 571.538.0725 for more information.

Pink Space Theory has several virtual volunteer opportunities for community-minded folks:  Community Leadership Advisory Board (1-6 members), Newsletter Coordinator (1 volunteer) and Contributor (1 volunteer), PWC Gives Fundraisers (5+ volunteers), and Development Engagement Coordinators (2+ volunteers).  Please email Michelle at[email protected] to learn more.

Saved Hands Foundation needs 10-12 volunteers age 18+ to support their Community Health Fair on August 13, 1 pm-3 pm at VFW Post 1503, 14631 Minnieville Road, Dale City 22193.  Duties include handing out school supplies/backpacks, operating registration tables, and crowd control.  You’ll stay busy and feel great as you support the community and help kids get a good start to the new school year!  Please email [email protected] (put “Health Fair” in the subject line) to learn how you can help.

Garden lovers!  SERVE in Manassas needs volunteers to assist with the upkeep of a meditation garden created for staff, clients, and volunteers.  Volunteers will water, weed, and remove trash as well as give tables and benches a quick wipe down.  Volunteers must be at least 16 years to volunteer independently; volunteers under 16 can volunteer with a parent. You’ll feel great as you spend an hour sprucing up a space that will provide for reflection and relaxation!  Please email[email protected] for more information.

Spanish speakers! Volunteer Prince William (VPW) urgently needs virtual Bilingual Volunteer Translators aged 18+ to translate for our Alternative Community Service (ACS) clients who speak little or no English.  The volunteer will participate in a conference call between VPW staff and the client to translate questions and responses during the initial intake interview.  You’ll be scheduled once a week ahead of time for specific shifts and must be available by phone during these times.  Must be proficient in English and Spanish and able to speak clearly.  Accurate translation is a must!  You’ll feel great as you help those who struggle with English get enrolled in this important program!  Please email[email protected] to learn more.

Wesley Housing has an affordable housing community in Manassas undergoing renovations and needs a Volunteer Photographer age 21+ to capture “before” and “after” photos of interior units and community spaces. It’s a wonderful way to gain experience and grow one’s portfolio!  Please fill out an online form athttps://forms.office.com/r/uAfJHkRLuZ by August 16.

If you are looking for other opportunities, please don’t forget to call our wonderful team at Volunteer Prince William at 703.369.5292.  You can also visit our website at www.volunteerprincewilliam.org.  Thanks so much for all you do in our community.

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