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Shoppers who fill their orders at grocery stores in Fredericksburg must soon pay for plastic bags.

Today, the city announced it will begin taxing retailers five cents for every disposable plastic bag used starting January 1, 2022. The new tax should reduce the number of disposable plastic bags in the city, leaders said.

At stores that pass the tax along to their customers, shoppers must pay for the bags at the point of sale, similar to when retailers charge sales tax. Groceries, convenience, and drug stores are responsible for paying the new city tax.

The tax does not apply to plastic bags carrying meat, produce, trash, or pet waste. Members of the Fredericksburg City Council began discussing the tax this past summer.

“It is past time for us to take this action. Plastic bags are just one step of the process. It’s not hard to get into new habits if you’re not there already,” said At-large City Council Member Kerry Devine during the September 14 City Council meeting when the City Council voted unanimously to adopt the tax.

Devine encouraged shoppers to carry reusable plastic bags. Devine added that some of the tax money the city collects from the new levy would be used to purchase reusable bags for residents.

Stores at Central Park, a regional shopping hub located within Fredericksburg City limits, will be responsible for paying the tax.

Today, the city issued a press release about the new tax.

A disposable-plastic-bag tax will go into effect on January 1 in the City of Fredericksburg.

The Virginia General Assembly last year enacted legislation to authorize the new tax of 5 cents per disposable plastic bag provided to retail customers by grocery stores, drug stores, and convenience stores. Fredericksburg City Council adopted the tax earlier this year to take effect January 1 in an effort to reduce the use of single-use disposable plastic bags in the City and promote the use of durable multi-use bags by retail and restaurant establishments. This initiative is an extension of City Council’s desired future state for a Green, Clean Environment in which “Fredericksburg is a responsible, modern city with a quality of life that is guaranteed by thoughtful environmental stewardship.”

The tax will be collected at the point of purchase, in a similar manner as sales taxes, and will be administered and enforced by the Virginia Tax Commissioner in Richmond.

Larger “big box” retailers such as Walmart or Target will be subject to the tax if they contain a grocery store, convenience store or drugstore. No retailer will be subject to the tax solely because it offers a limited number of snacks and beverages for sale at the cash register. Furthermore, per state code, the tax will only apply to retailers that maintain regular business hours at a fixed place of business in the City.

Retailers will be compensated for the costs of collecting and remitting the tax by retaining a portion of the tax collected. Until January 1, 2023, retailers subject to the tax will be able to retain 2 cents for every 5 cents collected. After January 1, 2023, this discount will be reduced to 1 cent per bag.

The 5-cent tax will not apply to:
• Durable plastic bags meant for multiple reuse
• Bags that are solely used to wrap ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, produce, unwrapped bulk food items or other perishable food items in order to avoid damage or contamination
• Plastic bags used for dry cleaning or prescription drugs
• Bags that are packaged and sold for use as garbage, pet waste or leaf-removal bags

State law requires that all revenue collected from this tax shall be appropriated for the purposes of environmental cleanup, providing education programs designed to reduce environmental waste, mitigating pollution and litter, and providing reusable bags to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) benefits.

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Prince William County Public Schools students [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools Facebook page]
Parents once again demanded an end to a mask mandate in Prince William County Public Schools.

During a regular county School Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 1, parents urged elected leaders and school division chief Dr. Latanya McDade to rescind a mask mandate that’s been in n place since August, the beginning of the current school year.

Making masks optional for students was the standard message parents aimed to get across. “Let those who want to wear them, and there should always be a choice,” said Kimberly Stewart.

Stewart criticized the school division for not publishing data on the effectiveness of masks in school buildings, where 98 percent of children returned to in-person learning after a year of learning remotely from home during the pandemic.

“There’s no talk about exercise or diet, just more talk about wearing masks and vaccines,” said Stewart. Patients who are overweight and have comprised immunity tend to have more significant coronavirus symptoms.

A statement posted to Twitter by School Board Chairman At-large Babur Lateef encouraged parents to speak out against the school division’s mask policy. In the Tweet, Lateef said masks should be optional and that people should get vaccinated.

He added that despite the new Omicron variant, there’s no place for future lockdowns or school building closures. Lateef and other Prince William County School Board members referred to the coronavirus as endemic akin to the common cold rather than a pandemic in an about-face.

“Learning to live with the endemic is necessary,” states Lateef.

However, that’s not the view of most parents who have children in the county school system, said Richard Jessie, husband of Occoquan District School Board member Lillie Jessie and a fixture at county School Board meetings.

Jessie introduced politics into the discussion Wednesday when he reminded the community that Virginia Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin lost Prince William County by 15 points. Youngkin says he will end mask mandates in Virginia’s public schools as part of his “day one” plan.

“With him winning the governorship, it’s has emboldened his supporters, and it has them thinking that things are going to change drastically…you are not the majority of parents in this county,” said Jessie.

Jessie encouraged more parents who support children in masks to attend and speak at School Board meetings. “The majority of people in this county are silent,” he adds.

Last week, Prince William County lost its first child, between the ages of 10 and 19, to die of a multi-inflammatory syndrome. Brought on by the coronavirus, the syndrome can cause problems with children’s hearts, lungs, and other organs. In some cases, it can lead to death.

There have been about 100 reported cases of the syndrome across the state since the pandemic began.

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Christmas will come to Manassas this weekend.

The cornerstone event is the city’s 75th Annual Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 4. The theme for the parade is “Down Santa Claus Lane.”

The parade will feature more than 100 acts, including marching bands, fire trucks, police, animal acts, and community organizations. Two giant balloons, a reindeer and mouse, measuring 12 feet tall by 14 feet wide, will make their debut in this year’s parade.

The parade begins on Route 28, winds down Prescott Avenue, then to Center Street, where marchers enter Downtown Manassas. Announcers and parade judges will sit at a review stand at Harris Pavilion, at Center and West streets.

WUSA-TV anchor Annie Yu and Manassas Fire and Rescue Lt. Kevin Shafer will be the parade announcers. The city honored Sharita Rouse, founder of Tummy YumYum Gourmet Candy Apples as Woman of the Year, and city native Joe Nelson, a 35-year parade volunteer as Man of the Year.

Parade attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Volunteer Prince William’s Untrim-A-Tree Holiday Gift Program. Volunteers will collect toys along the parade route.

Un-Trim-A-Tree helps provide gifts to thousands of children in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Stanley Martin Homes, TD Bank, Miller Toyota, and Manassas City Government sponsored the parade, which lasts about two hours.

Santa Lights Manassas

On Friday, December 3, Santa Claus will return to Manassas to light the city’s Christmas Tree, on the lawn of the city museum, at 9101 Prince William Street. Crowds will gather at 5:15 p.m. at the city’s train station to welcome Santa, who is scheduled to arrive by rail car at 6 p.m.

After the tree is lit, Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet children and listen to their Christmas wishes. Free wagon rides will be offered, The Harris Pavilion Ice Rink will be open, and the downtown shops and restaurants will be for business.

For the past 27 years, the “Santa Lights Manassas” has been a Christmastime staple in the city.

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The victim tapped an app, and now a suspect is in jail.

Police arrested one man in connection to a robbery in the 7200 block of Market Court near Manassas at 1:35 p.m. Thursday, November 25. The victim used a social media app to purchase a pair of shoes and arranged to meet someone to pick up the sneakers, police said.

While there, the suspect tried to walk away with the shoes, and a fight broke out between the suspect and the victim, police said. Then, a friend of the suspect pulled a gun, police said.

The suspect and his friend then jumped into a car and fled the scene. No one fired any shots, and no one reported any injuries.

While canvassing the area, officers found and later identified the suspect. Following the investigation, police arrested the suspect’s friend, Christopher Lee Fouts, and charged him with robbery and brandishing.

Today, police captured William Francisco Madrigal, 18, of 9488 Black Hawk Ct. in Manassas Park and charged him with robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, police said.

Fouts
Madrigal

Prince William police also report today:

Strong-Arm Robbery – On November 30 at 11:07PM, officers responded to the 13600 block of Bentley Cl. in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a robbery. The victim, a 24-year-old man, reported to police that earlier in the evening, he was walking in the above area when he was struck from behind by an unknown man. The victim fell to the ground resulting in his firearm falling out of his pocket. The man grabbed the weapon before two unknown women approached and began searching the victim for additional property. When the women did not find any additional property, the suspects, including an additional unknown man who also accompanied the other three individuals, fled in two vehicles described as a Nissan hatchback and a Honda with custom vehicle alterations. The victim reported minor injuries. The suspects were described as two black males and two black females.

Attempted Residential Burglary – On November 29 at 9:03PM, officers responded to the Point at Manassas Apartments located in the 8000 block of Juliet Ln. in Manassas (20109) to investigate an attempted burglary. A resident of the apartment reported to police that upon returning to the apartment they observed damage to the front door. The investigation revealed that the attempted burglary occurred sometime between 7:00AM and 8:15PM. At this time, it appears no entry was made into the home and no property was reported missing.

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A Manassas man faces charges of simple assault, brandishing, and the reckless handling of a firearm.

Police went to the 1000 block of Magnolia Grove Drive for a report of a man with a rifle making threats to hurt himself, police said. Officers used de-escalation tactics and then arrested him, police said.

Police took the suspect to jail and held him without bond. Officers charged Timothy Harris, 49, of Manassas with three counts of simple assault, three counts of reckless handling of a firearm, and five counts of brandishing a gun, police said.

Harris

Manassas police also reported today:

Andaluz Penaloza

Driving While Intoxicated/Hit & Run

On November 29, 2021, at approximately 9:41 p.m. officers from the Manassas City Police Department responded to the Battlefield Ford (8097 Mathis Avenue, Manassas, VA 20110) for a crash into an unoccupied business. The driver fled the scene prior to police arrival. Upon further investigation, the driver was apprehended in Prince William County, transported to the Adult Detention Center and held on a secured bond.

ARRESTED: Andaluz Penaloza, Larry, a 22-year-old resident of Manassas
Charges: Driving While Intoxicated, Hit and Run of Unattended Property, and Driving Without an Operator’s License

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A fire displaced two occupants of a single-family home on Clarion Drive in Stafford County. [Photo: Stafford fire and rescue]
Just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 1, Stafford County Fire and Rescue crews were dispatched for a reported structure fire on Clarion Drive, near the intersection of Ferry Road.

The first units to arrive saw fire coming from the second story of a detached garage, which doubles as an apartment, said county fire and rescue spokeswoman Katie Brady.

Crews worked to extinguish the fire within five minutes, she said.

The two occupants of the home left before fire crews arrived. Fire crews reported no injuries.

The occupants are temporarily displaced and are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

Smoke alarms alerted the occupants inside the house to the fire, said Brady.

The fire is under investigation by the Stafford County Fire Marshal’s Office. SCFR units were assisted on scene by the Fredericksburg Fire Department.

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By Tyler Arnold | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Virginia has the second best highway system in the country, according to a recent report from the libertarian Reason Foundation, which analyzed highway conditions and cost effectiveness using 2019 and 2020 data.

In the newest report, the commonwealth ranked within the top 10 in six of the 13 categories and within the top half in all but two of the categories. The report ranked each of the 50 states, but did not include Washington, D.C. in the analysis.

Virginia ranked as one of the most cost effective highway systems in the country, coming in second for capital and bridge disbursements per mile and eighth in total disbursements per mile. The state also ranked 18th in administrative disbursements per mile and 27th in maintenance disbursements per mile.

The commonwealth also performed well in road condition rankings, coming in fourth for rural arterial pavement conditions, sixth in rural interstate pavement conditions, 10th in fewest structurally deficient bridges and 17th in urban interstate pavement conditions. The state also had the 9th lowest urban fatality rate and the 19th lowest rural fatality rate. In overall fatality rates, the state ranked the 15th lowest.

For urbanized area congestion, Virginia ranked slightly below average, ranking in 27th.

North Dakota was the only state to perform better than Virginia overall. Two of Virginia’s neighbors were also in the top five: Kentucky ranked fourth and North Carolina ranked fifth. Missouri was the other state in the top five, ranking third.

Virginia’s other two neighboring states ranked outside the top half: West Virginia ranked 30th and Maryland ranked 38th. The worst performing states were New Jersey, Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii and New York.

“Since states have different highway budgets, system sizes, and traffic and geographic circumstances, their comparative performance depends on both system performance and the resources available,” the foundation noted. “To determine relative performance across the country, state highway system budgets (per mile of responsibility) are compared with system performance, state-by-state. In this report, states with high overall ratings typically have better-than-average highway system conditions (good for road users) along with relatively efficient spending in per-mile categories (good for taxpayers).”

The report noted that the top performing states are a mix of large and small states, but that very rural states may be at a slight advantage. Despite this, some states with large urban areas, such as Virginia, did rank toward the top.

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Not even Santa Claus plans to ride Virginia Railway Express this year.

Again this year, the jolly old elf won’t return for what was an annual, sell-out event, “Santa Trains.” Last held in December 2019, and every year before, the event invited children and parents to ride the rails with Santa on the commuter railroad’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines.

In years past, Santa Train riders would flood VRE’s website to snag free tickets for the trains. Riders routinely claimed all of the vouchers within minutes. 

Santa would also collect toy donations for less-fortunate children during the event, distributed by the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

The commuter railroad states Santa will return to the rails next year in an announcement posted on the VRE website. Riders should bring an unwrapped toy with them during their ride to work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, December 7, 8, and 9, it adds.

VRE will not be running Santa Trains this year but expect it to return in 2022. We will continue to support the Marines and their drive to donate toys throughout the Virginia region. We ask that you bring an unwrapped toy during your morning commute on Tuesday, December 7th or Wednesday, December 8th or Thursday, December 9th and leave them on your seat. Once again, VRE will not be collecting cash donations, but you can send your monetary donations to toysfortots.org/donate/Default.aspx.

The commuter railroad seems to have run out of steam when it comes to average daily ridership numbers. Once averaging nearly 20,000 daily riders before the pandemic, today, VRE averages about 3,000 daily trips, according to the latest October ridership report.

The most utilized train on the Fredericksburg line is about 20 percent full of passengers. On the Manassas line, it’s about 15 percent filled.

The nearly-empty rail cars come when Virginia is investing nearly $4 billion into its passenger railroad system. A new Long Bridge will be built across the Potomac River, connecting Arlington and Washington, D.C., and alleviating when railroad engineers say is the worst train bottleneck on the east coast, leading to significant delays.

The expansion will also lead to the doubling of Amtrak service between Richmond and Washington, D.C., and will eventually open the door to late-night and weekend train service on VRE, announced Gov. Ralph Northam two years ago.

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Firefighters spent hours on Monday, November 29, working to douse a series of brush fires along a railroad at the old Tim’s Rivershore restaurant site. [Photo: Prince William Fire and Rescue]
A series of brush fires on Monday led to a court summons.

Ann Sang Hyundai is charged with illegal burning, said Prince William County Fire Marshal Matt Smolsky. Hyundai is the new tenant of the building that housed the old Tim’s Rivershore restaurant near Dumfries.

Hyundai is due in court to answer the charge on December 20, Smolsky adds.

About 11 a.m. Monday, November 29, county fire and rescue crews were called to the property at 1510 Cherry Hill Drive on the Potomac River. They found several brush fires.

While crews worked to douse the blazes, their work delayed several Amtrak and freight trains that traveled through the area. It took about three hours for crews to mop up the mess and for trains to resume regular service.

In September, Tim’s Rivershore closed for business after the property owners, developers of the neighboring Potomac Shores neighborhood, declined to renew business owner Tim Bachman’s lease. For more than 20 years, the restaurant was a staple for locals and boaters.

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At least one person stole cash from a bank in Manassas today.

At 2:38 p.m., police went to a BB&T bank branch at the Wellington Shopping Center for a robbery report at 10040 Dumfries Road.

A bank employee said the robber demanded money, implied he had a weapon, and fled the scene on foot, a police spokeswoman said. Bank employees never saw a gun, police add.

A search for the suspect is ongoing.

A Giant Food store and the city’s public library sit inside the same shopping center as the bank.

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Photo: Stafford County Fire and Rescue

[Updated 7:30 p.m.] Two major incidents at opposite ends of Stafford County kept fire crews busy.

A fire broke out today at a middle-row townhouse on Coventry Court.
Rescue crews rushed to the scene of the blaze, reported about 2:30 p.m. The fire displaced two adults and three children.

A dog perished in the fire. Fire crews reported no other injuries, and fire crews did not find working smoke detectors in the home, said county fire and rescue spokeswoman Katie Brady.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The American Red Cross swooped in to help the displaced homeowners. The home is located in the Town and Country section of the county, near Fredericksburg, behind a Giant Food store.

About the same time today, multiple units, including some from neighboring Prince William County and Quantico Marine Corps Base, rushed to a three-acre brush fire scene at 66 White Pine Circle, near a U.S. Post Office on Route 1.

A fire engulfed a large section of woods behind one of the buildings at an apartment complex. At a second building, flames engulfed a smaller portion of the brush.

Additional fire crews went to Portugal Drive in the Aquia Harbour neighborhood for a small blaze that broke out directly behind the apartment complex on White Pine Circle.

Investigators are working to find the cause of the fires.

Multiple brush fires broke out behind an apartment complex in northern Stafford County. [Photo: Stafford fire and rescue department]
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Deputies used a taser during the arrest of a shoeless man.

Authorities were called to a home on Cynthia’s Place in the England Run neighborhood in Stafford County at 1:41 p.m. Sunday, November 28. They found a woman who had locked herself in a car following an argument with the suspect.

A dispatcher who received a 911 call about the case overheard the two arguing, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Deputies separated the pair, and the suspect clenched his fists, punched himself, shouted at deputies, a spokesman said. Officers called for backup after they learned of an arrest warrant for the suspect on file in Chesterfield County.

Officers used a taser after the suspect. The suspect resisted arrest, authorities said, and the suspect lost his shoes while trying to evade capture, they added.

Stafford County authorities charged Avery Willis, 21, of Fredericksburg, with obstruction of justice and fleeing from law enforcement. Willis is behind bars at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

Stafford County Sheriff’s blotter:

DUI
Garrisonville Road/Mine Road 11/25, 12:31 a.m. Deputy J.K. Griffith stopped a vehicle in this area that was driving without headlights. The driver was identified as Kimberly Kline Gordon, 46, of King George. There was an odor of alcoholic beverage from the car and Kline had glassy eyes. Field sobriety tests were conducted and she was arrested. Kline Gordon was charged with DUI, refusal, obstruction and no headlights. She was held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail until sober.

Warrenton Road/McWhirt Loop, 11/28, 12:02 a.m. Deputy D.S. Jett observed a vehicle fail to maintain the lane of travel and conducted a traffic stop. The driver was identified as James Fleming, 27, of Colonial Beach. Fleming had glassy eyes and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath. Field sobriety tests were administered and he was arrested. A suspected controlled substance was located in his vehicle. Fleming was charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance. He was held at Rappahannock Regional Jail on a $2,000 secure bond.

James Madison Circle, 11/28, 8:01 a.m. Deputy K.L. Warnick responded to the area for a drunk driver complaint. He witnessed the vehicle fail to maintain the lane of travel and conducted a traffic stop. The driver was identified as Javarrus King, 30, of Stafford. King had glassy eyes and smelled of alcoholic beverage. Field sobriety tests were administered and he was arrested. King was also found to have a suspended license. He was charged with DUI and driving suspended. King was held at Rappahannock Regional Jail on an unsecure bond until sober.

FRAUD
Five Below, 1130 Stafford Market Place, 11/24, 10:56 a.m. Resident reported the clerk at the store took a photo of his credit card during a transaction when his card was initially declined. The next day the resident learned several fraudulent charges were attempted on the card. Deputy T.M. Givler is investigating and an arrest is imminent.

HIT AND RUN
29 Greenspring Drive, 11/24, 2:00 a.m. Victim reported his vehicle was damaged in the parking lot between 1:00 and 1:45 a.m.

Bruce Street, 11/26, 1:30 p.m. Resident reported his vehicle was damaged on the driver’s door between Wednesday afternoon and Friday.

INTOXICATED PERSON
1100 Block of White Oak Road, 11/27, 8:25 p.m. Deputy G.P. McCaulley responded to the area for a disturbance. He located Ryan Redmond, 33, of Spotsylvania in the area. Redmond had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was actually drinking alcohol as the deputy approached. Unable to find a sober ride, Redmond was arrested for public intoxication and held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail until sober.

Red Roof Inn, 153 Garrisonville Road, 11/24, 3:14 a.m. Deputy C.M. Sterne responded to the motel for an unknown medical emergency. Austin Romagna, 25, of Stafford was found to be intoxicated in public and arrested. He was held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail until sober.

LARCENY
Spring Park Lane, 11/28, 7:18 p.m. A resident reported six illuminated candy cane decorations and a large nutcracker were stolen from her yard between 6 and 7 p.m. Anyone with information on this Grinch is asked to call Deputy F.C. O’Neill at 540-658-4400.

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Myers

A Prince William County woman faces murder charges in the shooting death of 49-year-old Travis Kelly Deardorff.

On Saturday, November 27, the suspect grabbed a gun from a bedroom and shot her roommate in the lower body following an argument, police said.

The victim later died at a local hospital. After the shooting, the suspect summoned emergency services, and when they arrived, police arrested her at about 5:50 p.m.

Lisa Gaye Myers, 56, of 13500 block of Bradford Lane near Independent Hill, is charged with 2nd-degree murder, police said. The woman remains jailed.

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Join us on Thursday, December 2, for our next Springfield, Virginia Job Fair at the American Legion Post 176, located at 6520 Amherst Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit our website JobZoneOnline.com to register and to view company updates.

Plan your day, and prepare to connect with all companies. On our website, be sure to view “how companies will be participating.”

Participating companies attending on December 2:

  • Core4ce
  • Fairfax County Public Safety
  • Fairfax Water
  • Fairfax County Sheriff’s
  • Intelligence Careers
  • Navy Systems Management Activity (NSMA)
  • Prince George’s County Department of Corrections
  • Prince George’s County Police Department
  • Trinity Washington University
  • Southland Concrete
  • Others pending (Clear DCA, Aggregate Industries, many more).
Job positions include
  • Cyber
  • Software
  • IT
  • Systems Administrator
  • Law Enforcement
  • 911 jobs
  • Industrial Electrician
  • Instrumentation Technicians
  • Maintenance Mechanic
  • Networking/Telecommunications
  • Analyst
  • Logistics
  • Engineering
  • Security Specialists
  • Financial Management
  • Laborer
  • Skilled laborers
  • Carpenters
  • Operators (heavy equipment)
  • Concrete Finishers
  • Patchers
  • Engineer Assistants
  • Full-time and Part-time opportunities at Trinity University

Questions, email Janet Giles or call 540-226-1473

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