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

Issue 159

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

According to the calendar, we are a few weeks into Spring. For me, nothing celebrates this beautiful season more than this week's arrival of tulips, daffodils, and Virginia bluebells. This week also is a very special time for many of you, so in keeping with past years, this The Wheeler Report is coming to you a day early.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, a time of prayer for Christians, which is followed by the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. This past Wednesday was the first Seder of Passover, a seven-day period honoring the liberation of Jewish peoples from slavery in Egypt. Additionally, this week is the middle of Ramadan, a time of fasting and reflection by Muslims.

I wish all those who are participating in any of these religious celebrations, enjoying the beautiful Spring flowers, and embracing family time during the last days of Spring Break, a time of joy, peace and blessings.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Chair's Calendar

Birthday Celebration

Saturday, April 1, Chair Wheeler attended the City of Manassas 150th Birthday Celebration at Jennie Dean Park and the Boys and Girls Club. The lively event include entertainment, fireworks, vendors, a time-capsule, ground-breaking, and more. It also included the unveiling of a portrait of Mayor Michelle Davis Younger, whose four-year term began in 2021.

Iftar Dinner

Saturday, April 1, Chair Wheeler spoke with the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's Interfaith Iftar Dinner at the Masroor Mosque in Manassas. The annual event's theme this year was "A universal Message of Peace and Security." Other guest speakers included Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike (bottom photo second from left), Virginia Delegate Michelle Maldonado (bottom photo center), and Virginia Delegate Briana Sewell (bottom photo right).

Pinwheel Planting

Wednesday, April 5, Chair Wheeler participated in the annual Pinwheels for Prevention Garden planting at the McCoart Plaza. The blue pinwheel, a national symbol for child abuse prevention, represents the innocence of childhood. Its shape represents positive cycles of love and support.

"This year's child abuse awareness theme is 'Building Together: Prevention and Partnership.' All community members have a role in ensuring that children have positive experiences and that families have the resources they need to help them. We need to work toward preventing the crisis. Child abuse and neglect are preventable, and all communities benefit when children and families are supported."

Laurie Wilson (bottom center photo)

PWC Department of Social Services Advisory Board Chair


Wednesday, April 5, Chair Wheeler attended the graduation ceremony for PWC Department of Fire and Rescue Recruit Class 22-2. Battalion Chief Scott Arft (top left photo) led the event, which included presenting the 32 "Deuces Wild" graduates with their helmets and badges.


Tuesday, April 4, Chair Wheeler's Office attended the signing of the memorandum agreement by Biddle Real Estate Ventures Managing Partner Peter Chavkin (left in left photo) and Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director DJ Stadtler (right in left photo). The signing of this important memorandum, which Woodbridge Magisterial District Supervisor Margaret Franklin and Potomac Magisterial District Supervisor Andrea Bailey also attended, ignites the start of the future Potomac Shores VRE station.

Next Meeting

Tuesday, April 11

2:00 pm and 7:30 pm

For Public Comment Time options visit SpeakUp! Prince WilliamRemote speakers must sign up by 5:00 pm on Monday, April 10. In-person speakers can sign up at the meeting.

The 7:30 pm meeting will include:

View the Agenda
Register to Speak Remotely

The BOCS Tuesday, April 4, Meeting Actions

Proclaimed April Child Abuse Prevention Month to remind everyone prevention continues to be the best defense. Scientific studies have documented the link between the abuse and neglect of children and a wide range of medical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral disorders. Effective child abuse prevention activities succeed because of the partnerships created between child welfare professionals, education, health, community and faith‐based organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and families.

Left to right: Department of Social Services Advisory Board Member Clarice Torian, Advisory Board Vice Chair Idris O’Connor, Advisory Board Chair Laurie Wilson, Assistant Director of Protective Services Van Washington, Prevention Unit Lead Theresa Wilson, and Assistant Director of Children Services Act Jessica Webb

In Fiscal Year 2022, 5,118 cases of suspected child abuse and neglect were reported in Prince William County.

Proclaimed April 8 through 15 Public Safety Telecommunications Week to honor the women and men whose diligence and professionalism keep our County and citizens safe. The “first” first responders are the public safety telecommunicators who answer 9-1-1 and are virtually “on the scene” providing emergency medical and other life safety instructions while providing moral support to callers in distress and dispatching field responders and

equipment to the scene.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of 9-1-1 service in the United States and in the same year, Prince William County became the first community to offer 9-1-1 service on the East Coast.

Proclaimed April 9 through 15 Animal Care and Control Officer Appreciation Week to express sincere appreciation for the service and dedication for those who provide essential community functions including the enforcement of animal control laws, protecting the public from diseases such as rabies, capture roaming and potentially dangerous animals, investigating reports of animal complaints and welfare. They also answer calls for assistance, educate pet owners, and provide for the proper care of animals.

In 2022 the PWC Animal Services Center had 2900 adoptions and fosters, reunited 584 pets with their families, and 128 wildlife rescues and transfers.

County News

New Chief

Thomas LaBelle is PWC’s new Fire and Rescue System Chief, effective May 1. With more than 30 years working in emergency services organizations, Chief LaBelle most recently served as a Deputy Chief with the Henrico County Division of Fire, with expertise in Community Risk Reduction. Prior to that, he spent five years as the Division Chief with Albemarle County Fire Rescue, managing the Executive Board and volunteer components of their combination Fire Rescue System.

Chief LaBelle has a Bachelor of Science from Hartwick College and is working toward a Master in Homeland Security from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program in 2019. He holds multiple certifications, including Chief Fire Officer – Commission on Public Safety Credentialing and Pro Board Certificated as a Fire Officer III, Fire Instructor II and Fire Investigator.

The Department

PWC’s Fire and Rescue System is comprised of the Department of Fire and Rescue and eight volunteer fire and rescue departments. These organizations work together to provide high-quality and efficient firefighting and emergency medical services to Prince William County and currently consists of a combination of 722 full-time employees and 391 operational volunteer personnel. It is comprised of three sections: Community Safety, Operations, and Systems Support.

“I have spent my entire life supporting fire and EMS personnel, fire departments and the communities they protect. I’m excited to now be able to serve the Prince William Fire and Rescue System and the Prince William community. I truly believe that the career and volunteer workforce in the county’s Fire and Rescue System are outstanding, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to work side by side with its members.”

Thomas LaBelle

Incoming PWC Fire and Rescue System Chief

Annual Report

Tuesday, April 4, PWC Chief of Police Peter Newsham presented the Department's 2022 Annual Report Overview Executive Summary to the BOCS. Below is a snapshot of some of the information provided by Chief Newsham. You can view the Executive Summary here and read the report in its entirety here.

2022 Positive Steps Snapshot

Response to Resistance

  • Physical action was not necessary in 95.2% of the arrests
  • Zero complaints of excessive force

Latest Class Diversity

  • Session 51 - 30% women and 55% minorities
  • Session 52 - 27% women and 43% minorities
  • Session 53 - 17% women and 67% minorities

Compensation (BOCS Approved December 2022)

  • Increased the starting pay for police officers to $62,000
  • Hiring incentive of $10,000

Addressing Mental Health

  • George Mason University partnership enhanced and expanded the crisis intervention training (CIT) through federal funding
  • 53 new CIT members were added, bringing the total to 345.

Cadet Program

  • Has grown to 20
  • 18 to 21 year olds who assist across the agency in every division

2022 Report Data Snapshot

Crime Rate

  • 37.7 (per 1,000 residents), an increase of 4.8 from 2021
  • Down 9.7 from 2009 and below the historic average of 38.9
  • The estimated crime rate for Virginia was 47.3

Victims of Murder

  • 20 in 15 separate incidents
  • Only 2 cases are still active, with 18 being solved
  • Seven victims, over 30%, occurred in three domestic-related encounters
  • Six victims were in narcotics-related encounters

Total Arrests

  • 8,043 total: 7,456 were adults and 585 were juvenile
  • Increased 14.8% from 2021

Traffic Enforcement

  • Total citations were 21,841, an increase from 18,751 in 2021
  • Top violations in order were speeding, reckless driving, no license, disregarding a traffic light, and stop sign violation
  • 951 arrests were for DUI

Police Department Requests Your Feedback

Since 1987, the PWC Police Department has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). As a part of its overall candidacy for continued accredited status, the department has a community portal for residents and business owners to share feedback related to the agency’s compliance with CALEA standards, engagement in the service community, and delivery of public safety services. Use the links below to submit your comments. You can learn more here.

Submit a comment to CALEA about the PWC Police Department here.

Submit a comment to CALEA about the PWC Public Safety Academy here.

This community portal will be open through Wednesday, May 31.

Impressive Accomplishments

At the time of its initial CALEA accreditation in 1987, the PWC Police Department was the 55th agency nationwide to achieve this status. In 2009, it became the fifth law enforcement agency in the nation to earn the TRI-ARC Award from CALEA. The award is bestowed upon agencies that concurrently hold all three CALEA accreditation awards:

  • Law Enforcement Accreditation
  • Public Safety Communications Accreditation
  • Public Safety Training Academy Accreditation.

Grant Application Window Open

The Data Center Community Grants Program is accepting applications through 11:59 pm pacific time zone, Friday, April 28. The program supports local nonprofit and educational organizations that serve communities and are driving positive change in education, economic opportunity, bridging the digital divide, sustainability, arts and culture, and health and science. Individuals, government entities, and for-profit organizations are not eligible. Learn more and how to apply here.

Holiday Closings

PWC Public Libraries Holiday Weekend schedule:

  • Saturday, April 8 the Dale City, Dumfries, Independent Hill, Lake Ridge, Nokesville Library branches will be closed.
  • Sunday, April 9 all library branches will be closed.

County Kudos

A Great Program Expanded

The PWC Public Libraries has expanded its participation in the Trex® Recycling Program Challenge! In 2022, the Central Library collected 500 pounds of plastic bags (about 40,500) and with the help of Keep Prince William Beautiful, sent them to Trex®. In return, the library received a green bench from Trex® in September made 100% from recycled materials. Now, in addition to the Central Library, residents can drop off their plastic bags at Bull Run, Chinn Park, Dale City, Haymarket Gainesville, and Montclair Library branches.

It isn't Just the Libraries Having All the Fun

Several PWC Schools are participating in the 16th Annual Trex® Plastic Film Recycling Challenge and are showing impressive results. As of March 27, these schools were in the top 30 for the category listed;

High Schools Category

Forest Park High School in Woodbridge was ranked 9th out of 180

Elementary Schools Category

Bel Air Elementary School in Woodbridge was ranked 23rd out of 447

All Schools Category

Forest Park High School was ranked 17th out of 766

The schools challenge runs from America Recycles Day on November 15 to Earth Day on April 22. In addition to earning national recognition, top-performing schools can win high-performance Trex outdoor living products for their campuses, as well as cash prizes to use toward educational programming and supplies. Learn more in the video below.

County Happenings

Holland in Virginia is Here

Burnside Farms' Festival of Spring, voted the #1 Tulip Festival in the Country by The Travel (County Kudos issue 154), opened this week! Each tulip beds/rows contains 6,500 or more bulbs. The farm imports a little over 2.5 million new bulbs from Holland each year and plants them every Fall. The tulips aren't the only stars of the show, there are over 40 varieties of daffodils!

Important Ticket Details

  • Daily tickets are limited and timed-entry to manage traffic and ensure a pleasant visit for all guests.
  • Tickets are sold online only. No tickets are available at the gate.
  • Tickets are required for ages 6 and up. Ages 5 and under are free and do not need a ticket.
  • Advance purchase tickets are usually released about a week in advance and tend to sell out quickly!
  • If a ticket date is not available, tickets have not been released for that day yet.
  • New for 2023, a limited number of "Day-of” tickets will become available at 12:00 am this year if advance tickets are sold out.  
  • Check the Field Report before you visit. It is updated daily with important operational information and current field conditions.

You can also check out the Spring Tips and FAQ's to learn more before you purchase tickets and head to the farm.


The Virginia Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farm only happens once a year and is not to be missed! Come out Saturday, April 8, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, to the protected farm located on 302 acres in Nokesville. In addition to the beautiful wildflowers, the free event has a robust schedule of family-friendly activities with some of Northern Virginia's top naturalists.

The carpet of fabulous Virginia Bluebells is nearly a mile-long!

More About the Bluebells

  • The dainty annual wildflower is the official wildflower of PWC
  • It grows only on flood plains.
  • A ground cover, their blooms last just a few weeks in Spring, when sunshine can reach them before the trees leaf out.
  • Purplish pink buds open to sky blue flowers with a delicate, sweet fragrance.

Farmer's Market Reopening

Now in its second year, the Prince William Farmers Market in Woodbridge is reopening for the season on Thursday, April 13. The market is open on Thursdays from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, through Thursday, November 9. The PW Dale City Farmers Market, which is open year-round on Sundays, is now operating on its Spring/Summer/Fall hours of 8:00 am to 1:00 pm through Sunday, November 26. You can learn more about PWC farmers markets here.

Helpful Links


How to Get Vaccinated (including boosters):

How to get tested:


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. 
Subscribe to The Wheeler Report
Visit My Website