Share This Issue on Your Social Media
LinkedIn Share This Email
Stay Connected With Chair Wheeler
Twitter  Facebook  Instagram  Youtube  

Issue 143

Friday, December 2, 2022

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

During Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and the holiday season, I am always mindful of the many wonderful nonprofits in our County. Some provide through food or assistance, while others take the form of enhancing what we have in place. I am grateful for the work they do to make our community a better place to live through positive actions and words.

One of these organizations I’d like to highlight today is the Prince William Parks Foundation. This week I was fortunate to attend a recent fundraiser for this organization (see Chair's Calendar below). One of their key projects is a potential new Pump Track for the Rollins Ford Park that is currently under construction. The pump track would be the first in PWC and be a great pairing with our nationally recognized BMX track in Woodbridge, operated and maintained by NOVA BMX.

Before I close, last week's annual Holiday Guide issue was packed full of all the wonderful happenings this holiday season in our County. There is no doubt this is a busy time of year. Add to that the potential of winter weather. To help you and your family navigate it all successfully, following our usual sections of this issue, you'll find several devoted to holiday and winter safety.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Chair's Calendar

Grand Opening

Tuesday, November 29, Chair Wheeler participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening of the 66 express lanes outside the beltway (issue 141). Other participants included Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (top photo, center with scissors), Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard Miller III (to the left of Governor Younkin), and Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Stephen Brich, P.E. (far right) The multi-modal mega-project is among the largest public-private partnership (P3) infrastructure projects in the United States this century.

Not Just Express Lanes

In addition to the new 22.5 miles of express lanes, the project includes:

  • A total of 63 renovated or newly constructed bridges, including 11 at the I-495 interchange and 13 at the Route 28 interchange.
  • Safety and operational improvements at key interchanges like I-495, Route 28, and Nutley Street.
  • New and improved bus service and transit routes. 
  • New and expanded park and ride lots providing convenient access to the Express Lanes and more than 4,000 new park and ride spaces.
  • Interchange improvements to enhance safety and reduce congestion, including auxiliary lanes between interchanges, where needed.
  • 11 miles of new bike and pedestrian trails, including shared-use trails along I-66 that integrate with local trails, and new crossings of I-66 to improve and expand bicycle and pedestrian routes.

Construction of some project features, such as final interchange improvements and the shared-use path adjacent to the corridor, are ongoing with the project completion expected in mid-2023.

The VDOT video below provides an excellent detailed overview of the entire project.

Foundation Event

Wednesday, November 30, Chair Wheeler attended the Prince William County Parks Foundation (issue 117 County News) fall fundraiser for its Count Me In Scholarship Program (issue 131 County Kudos) and to purchase the County's first Pump Track for Rollins Ford Park in Nokesville. The Foundation helps to enhance the County's Parks by providing the resources necessary to develop or sustain facilities or programs. Speakers at the event included Board Member Ruth Anderson (left), NOVA BMX Board of Directors President Brent Heavner (center), and Forest Park High School graduate and current Nashville Soccer Club player C. J. Sapong (right). Learn about important work outside of soccer C. J. is doing below.

This past summer the Count Me In scholarship program, funded by grants and donations, helped over 100 disadvantaged Prince William children access park programs at no cost to their families. You can learn more about the pump track below. Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made to the scholarship program here and pump track here (scroll down the webpage).

More About the Pump Track

The County broke ground for Rollins Ford Park (issue 106 County News) in February of this year. The 69-acre park will include athletics fields, a destination playground, basketball court, pavilions, dog park, walking trails, and wildflower meadows. The pump track (illustrative design below) will create a space for all ages and abilities with an asphalt riding surface that is appropriate for all wheeled sports from bicycles to skateboards, scooters, and wheelchairs.

Pump tracks are popular for children learning to ride on pedal-less balance bikes, but also cater to youth and adult riders using standard bikes. As riders improve their skills, the tracks are designed to provide the option for more challenges with increased speed and skill, without needing to change the construction. Bicycle pump tracks ensure biking is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or ability.

C.J. is More Than a Professional Soccer Player

Following a career impacting injury in 2014, C. J. began researching natural remedies and agricultural practices. This led to Sapong starting Sacred Seeds with the goal of enhancing communities through education, sustenance, and self-sustainability. Sacred Seeds facilitates hands on, cooperative curricular experiences that engage with local agriculture and promote food awareness in order to cultivate healthy communities. Its Seed Lab Initiative introduces students and educators to innovative hydroponic and aquaponic technology, connecting science and the environment through sustainable urban farming. Learn more about its efforts and how you can support them here.

Additional Location Opens

Thursday, December 1, Chair Wheeler attended the ribbon-cutting celebration at GreenDrop's (issue 122 County News) new drop-off location at the Shops at County Center located at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road in Manassas. With drop-off locations across the country, this is the company's fourth drop-off in PWC. GreenDrop converts a wide-range of acceptable new and lightly used items into critical funds for its nonprofit and charity partners. Chair Wheeler connected with Prince William Chamber of Commerce Board Member Michael Whitlock (left in bottom left photo) and Red Cross of Loudoun and PWC Executive Director Edwin Stierle (bottom photos in red jacket) at the event.


Next Meeting

Tuesday, December 6

2:00 pm Regular Meeting

For Public Comment Time options visit SpeakUp! Prince WilliamRemote speakers must sign-up by 5:00 pm on Monday, December 5. In-person speakers can sign up at the meeting.

View the Agenda
Register to Speak Remotely

Evening Meeting

Tuesday, December 6, at 6:30 pm, the Board will hold its annual meeting with elected State Delegation members representing PWC at the Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge.

The Board's 2023 Legislative Agenda was adopted on November 22, 2022, and includes sections on:

  • Transportation and Mobility
  • Health, Wellbeing and Human Services
  • Safe and Secure Community
  • Resilient Economy
  • Quality Education and Workforce Development
  • Administrative of Government

County News

Route 28 Bypass Update Session

Tuesday, December 13, at 12:00 pm, the PWC Department of Transportation (PWCDOT) is hosting a virtual information session on the Route 28 Bypass Project. More than 57,000 vehicles travel the Route 28 corridor per day. The intent of this project is to design a roadway that has the greatest long-term impact on the traffic congestion, while also creating the smallest possible community impact to homes and businesses. This PWCDOT "Transportation Tuesday" event will review the work accomplished in 2022 and dive deeper into 2023 planned activities. Questions will be captured to shape future communication and engagement. You can register to attend the Zoom meeting event here.

Current FAQs and answers can be found here. You can submit questions/comments to the project team by:

Ghee-Whiz Numbers

PWC Neighborhood Services and Solid Waste divisions' 10 Dumpster Days events (issue 108 County News) held across the County in 2022 removed a combined total of 48.06 tons of unwanted household items, trash, and litter in common areas, streams, lakes and waterways in neighborhoods. The success of these events was possible through the help of volunteers, civic associations, and neighborhood leaders. The 2023 Dumpster Days schedule will be available here in March.

In Addition to Dumpster Days

Individual neighborhoods can always contact community partner Keep Prince William Beautiful for help with planning your own successful community clean-up event

Input Shifts School Calendar

The PWC School Board has adopted the 2023-24 school calendar. The approved calendar aligns with community and staff survey results, providing a shorter winter break in favor of an earlier June release.

The 2023-24 school calendar dates for students includes:

  • First day of school Monday, August 21.
  • Last day of school Friday, June 7.
  • Winter break Thursday, December 21, through Monday, January 1.
  • Spring break Monday, March 25 through Friday, March 29.

Be sure to check out the PWC Public Schools' County Kudos below.

County Kudos

National Elite Eight

Congratulations to the Automotive Program Engine Building Team at Woodbridge's C. D. Hylton High School for being named champions of the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association's national engine building competition in Las Vegas. The team of five students had to breakdown and rebuild a small block Chevy engine four times as quickly as possible, with the least number of penalties, only using hand tools.

The team had four perfect runs, something that has never been done in the competition! The competition also includes a written test. This win secures their spot in the "Elite Eight," a group of eight schools in the U.S. that will compete to be Grand National champions in December. See the amazing team in action and hear from them about the experience in the video below!

Holiday Fire Safety

While Christmas trees and decorations add to the holiday spirit, they pose a risk of fire and injury to many, especially children. The PWC Department of Fire and Rescue wants to ensure you have a safe holiday season.

  • Of reported Christmas tree fires, one of every 52 results in a death.
  • Approximately 30% of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems.
  • Almost 50% of decoration fires were too close to a heat source.
  • During December, 45% of decoration fires are due to candles.
  • Christmas Day is the peak day for candle fires.

Christmas Trees

Natural trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk:

  • Get a tree that is fresh and keep it watered
  • Do not put the tree within 3 feet of a heat source, i.e., fireplace, space heater, radiator, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Do not burn tree branches or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.
  • Remove your tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home, garage or placed outside against the home.

Holiday Lights

With approximately 30% of home Christmas tree fires caused by electrical problems, to protect yourself and your family:

  • Use lights that are UL approved. Some lights are for outdoor use, and some are for indoor use.
  • Replace lights that are worn, have broken cords. frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the number of light strands to connect.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
  • Do not run an electrical cord under a rug.


The PWC's Fire Marshal’s Office recommends using battery operated candles as a substitute for real candles. However, should you choose to use real candles, please take the following precautions:

  • Put candles in a sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holder.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that burns.
  • Never leave a candle unattended.
  • Blow out candles after use and before going to bed.

Potentially Toxic Holiday Items


Children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly putting things in their mouths, noses, ears, and other places where they don’t belong. Holiday décor often glows, sparkles, and shines, so it is extra appealing. The American Association of Poison Control Centers advises that:

  • The liquid in “bubble” lights is very toxic.
  • “Heirloom” ornaments and décor may contain lead or lead paint. Make sure these items are well out of reach of children.
  • While snow globes made in the U.S. are usually filled with water, those made in other countries have been found to contain toxic liquids like antifreeze.
  • Oil used in a menorah can be very dangerous if swallowed.

The National Poison Center line can be reached at (800) 222-1222 and you can do an online search for poison help here.


Holiday plants may enliven a room, but PetMD Dangerous Winter Holiday Plants for Pets advises that:

  • Plants that should be kept where pets can't get to them includes Poinsettias, Holly, Mistletoe, Amaryllis, and Christmas Cactus.
  • Fir tree oil can be irritating to the mouth and stomach.
  • Tree needles may cause gastrointestinal irritation, obstruction, or punctures.
  • Tree water can have bacteria, molds, and fertilizers that cause extreme sickness with only a few laps of water. 

The ASPCA Poison Control line can be reached at 1-888-426-4435.

Be a Safe Shopper

The season of giving means the season of shopping. Whether you like to shop online, in stores, or a combination of both, it's important to keep you, your information, and your purchases are safe. Below are some tips for smart holiday shopping.

When Shopping Online

  • Avoid online offers that sound too good to be true. 
  • Only buy online from sites with URLs that start with HTTPS. 
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card because they are more likely to offer fraud liability protections.
  • Refrain from using public Wi-Fi to make purchases.
  • Not leave packages sitting at the front of your house tempting porch pirates.
  • Save confirmation emails and receipts until you have received your items.

When Shopping In Stores

  • Make sure to cover your items if you leave them in your vehicle.  
  • Always lock your car doors.  
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
  • Make a mental note of where you parked.
  • Have your keys in hand when walking back to your vehicle.
  • Look around and under your vehicle as you are approaching.
  • If shopping with children, select a central location to meet in case you are separated. Teach kids how to ask a security guard or employee for help if they're lost.
  • Keep your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket.

On the Roads

If You Feel Different - You Drive Different

The pre-holidays are known for being merry and bright, but they are also known for being the deadliest season when it comes to impaired driving. This is why the PWC Police Department is reminding everyone it is joining with other national, state and local highway safety and law enforcement officials through Tuesday, December 13, to remind all holiday party goers that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”

Virginia has some of the strongest drunk driving laws in the nation, which also apply to drugged driving.

  • All drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI)
  • If drivers 21 and older are impaired with a BAC lower than .08%, they also can be convicted of DUI.
  • Drivers under age 21 can be convicted of illegal consumption of alcohol with a BAC of .02% to less than .08%.
  • First-time offenders lose their driver’s license for a year and have a mandatory ignition interlock device when they begin driving again.
  • A three-year driver’s license suspension occurs after a second conviction, and 20 days in jail if it is within five years of first conviction.

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • 32 people die in drunk driving crashes every day in the U.S., or one person every 45 minutes.
  • About 30% of all traffic deaths attributable to alcohol.
  • With a BAC of .02% drivers experience a decline in visual functions and the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
  • With a BAC of .05% drivers experience reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations.

Winter Weather Driving

Winter storms can bring freezing rain, ice, snow, high winds, or a combination of all these conditions. All of which make for driving challenges. Below are some of the winter driving tips from NHTSA.

  • Increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
  • Don’t crowd a snowplow or travel beside the truck and use caution if you pass the plow.
  • As the outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure.
  • Heavy coats can interfere with the proper harness fit on a child in a car seat. When your child will be secured in a car seat, pick thin, warm layers, and place blankets or coats around your child after the harness is snug and secure for extra warmth.
  • When the temperature drops, so does battery power. In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines take more battery power to start. Electric and hybrid-electric vehicles’ driving range can be reduced. Have a mechanic check your battery or charging system.

Check out NHTSA's video below so you know what to do should you get stuck in wintery weather.

Be Weather Prepared at Home

Winter weather can knock out heat, power, and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Ready Campaign, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are promoting winter weather preparedness to decrease your risk by:

More Winter Weather Reminders

  • Be sure to wipe your dog's paws. Ice-melting chemicals can make your pet sick.
  • Help firefighters by keeping fire hydrants clear of snow.
  • Always keep gas generators away from homes and garage.
Ann B. Wheeler was elected Chair At-Large of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors during the 2019 General Election and assumed office on January 1, 2020. Prince William County is located 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., and is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s second-most populous county with approximately 482,000 residents. 
Visit Our Website