Issue 23
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

This week our 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals team dusted off their uniforms for a much anticipated opening day of baseball. For a moment in time, as they played on a beautifully groomed home field, it felt like any other summer - until you noticed the reminders that it isn't.

A physician and immunologist threw out the first pitch. Stands were empty of fans buying the requisite hot dog and popcorn. Players united in holding a long black ribbon and taking a knee. Yes this is 2020 and we are still in the midst of a pandemic, economic challenges, and outcries of racial injustice.

With Phase Three physical restriction easing in place, just like the game, every now and then it feels like a 'normal' summer. Yet almost every article in this Wheeler Report connects in one way or another to the challenges of this year, underscoring their continued impact on our county.

This Issue has important school news , several county COVID-19 updates , a change at two federal facilities , an economic announcement , two equity items , important election information and a fun event .

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
COVID-19 News
July 21 BOCS Meeting
During Tuesday's meeting the BOCS voted unanimously on a resolution to provide $5 million in CARES Act funding to PWC Schools. This comes at a critical time as our schools move forward with their recently announced Return To Learn Plan ( Issue 22). As with all CARES funds, the money will be used exclusively toward COVID-19 expenses and was a partial reallocation of CARES funding earmarked to cover county costs through December 2020.
“Supporting the education system is a vital necessity for the community. We look forward to working with the Prince William County Public School System to help meet their emergency needs during this pandemic. The safety of all residents is of the utmost importance,”
Ann Wheeler, Chair At-Large Board Of County Supervisors
A Quick PWC CARES recap ( Issue 14)
  • On March 27 the CARES Act was signed into law
  • On May 19 PWC accepted its first installment of CARES funds of $41 million
  • Must be used exclusively for COVID-19 expenses not covered in a budget as of March 27 and incurred between March 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020

NOTE: The county hopes to see another round of CARES funds in the near future.
Updates On Cares Funded Initiatives Provided During The Meeting
  • Currently operating shelters in county's Ferlazzo Gym and a rented hotel
  • Averaging 60 people in the hotel and 40 people in the Gymnasium
  • Efforts are ongoing to establish a navigation center on county property
Community Feeding Taskforce
  • Over 2 million pounds of food have been redistributed
  • First purchase of shelf stable goods has been made
  • Monthly delivery to about 200 shut-in seniors and over 400 home bound families
COVID-19 Testing
  • Five fixed sites have been established: Splashdown Water Park, Woodbridge Senior Center, Cloverdate Park, James S. Long Park, and Metz Middle School
  • Additional mobile testing to starting the week of July 27
Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Relief
( Issue 22 )
  • Live on July 1
  • Have received 654 applications through July 21

NOTE: The Commonwealth has an additional separate program administered locally by Northern Virginia Family Services accessed via a coordinated entry program phone 703-792-3366.
Other County COVID-19 News
Grant Awarded
PWC was awarded a $10,000 grant through Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) new DMO (destination marketing organizations) Recovery Grant Program . The funds are to be used for recovery marketing by areas heavily impacted by the pandemic. Our county was one of 90 state DMO recipients, with each awardee receiving a maximum of $10,000.
Two Popular Government Attractions
On Friday, July 24, the Smithsonian will welcome visitors to the National Zoo in Washington and the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. Closed to the public since March 14, the Zoo will release 5,000 daily passes and Udvar-Hazy 1,500 daily passes. Visitors can reserve as many as six   passes up to 30 days in advance. Limited walk-up passes may be available after 1 p.m.
Economic Development News
Just Announced
A leading wholesale distributor of gourmet specialty products, International Gourmet Foods, Inc. will invest $15.6 million to establish a new headquarters in Prince William County , bringing 169 new jobs. The company, currently located in Fairfax, will be moving into a 130,000-square-foot development in Woodbridge. In addition to the HQs, the new location will house their sales, warehouse and cold storage operations serving Virginia and parts of North Carolina. 
“These 169 new jobs in a Targeted Industry go a long way towards helping us build a robust, diverse economy and an expanded tax base.”
Ann Wheeler, Chair At-Large Board Of County Supervisors
A Special Acknowledgement
On July 26, thirty years ago, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) . Activists for the cause say they drew strength for their efforts from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In March of 1990, just before the legislation was passed, a group of activists staged the Capitol Crawl where disabled people pulled themselves up all 100 steps of the Capitol building to highlight the nation’s lack of accessibility.
The Amazing Story Behind the Story
Referred to as the Father of the ADA, Justin Dart Jr, was born in 1930 into an affluent family, his grandfather having established the Walgreens Drug Store Chain. At the age of 18, just before the vaccine was invented, Justin contracted polio. He first experienced discrimination when the University of Houston, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science and history, refused to give him his teaching certificate saying he could not be successful as a teacher because he was in a wheelchair. While at the all-white university, he had his initial foray into human rights and is credited with starting their first pro-integration group.

Justin established and ran several successful international businesses until 1967 when he toured a facility for children diagnosed with polio while attending a conference in Vietnam. Seeing the tragic nature of their existence, unlike his of privileged circumstances, he made a life altering decision. Dart and his wife, Yoshiko, moved to rural Japan, divested their business interests, lived spartan lives, and became more socially conscious. Returning to the US in 1974 he become involved in public life and eventually worked on what would become the ADA. In 1998 he was awarded The Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.
Crown Act
Once again Virginia leads the way ( Issue 22). This week Governor Northam took the final step of formally signing a new law banning discrimination on the basis of hair . While Virginia is the fifth state to enact this law, often referred to as the Crown Act, we are the first southern state! The law took effect July 1 with the signing ceremony delayed until now.
“It’s pretty simple—if we send children home from school because their hair looks a certain way, or otherwise ban certain hairstyles associated with a particular race—that is discrimination. This is not only unacceptable and wrong, it is not what we stand for in Virginia. This bill will make our Commonwealth more equitable and welcoming for all.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam
November Election
PWC Office of Elections
The agency is currently finalizing their plans to be prepared for an anticipated very high voter turnout for the November 3 General Election. These plans may include adding several more locations for early in-person voting, which starts September 18 . Along with high turnout concerns, the agency is focused on action steps needed due to the pandemic. The Wheeler Report will provide updates as decisions are finalized.
Be Informed
Its easy to be sure you know important voter information, simply text PWCVOTES to 94253 and you will be sent election reminders.
New Laws
Some of the new laws the Virginia General Assembly enacted in 2020 ( Issue 19) expanded voter rights including:
  • You do not have to have a reason to vote early by mail or in-person
  • Voting Day is a state holiday
  • Precincts on election day are open until 7:00 pm
  • A photo-ID is not mandated among the acceptable list of IDs
Vote By Mail Ballots
You can request your vote by mail ballot NOW! A few important details:
  • Deadline to request is October 23
  • Must be postmarked no later than Tuesday, November 3
  • Must be received by 12:00 noon Friday November 6 so it is recommended you mail it as early as possible before the November 3 deadline
As outlined above, you do not have to provide a reason to request a vote by mail ballot this year.
Have Fun And Help Others
Drive-in Movies
Through August the Lake Ridge Rotary Club Woodbridge Rotary Club , and Prince William County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism  are hosting Movies at the Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge. Car passes cost $30, and food trucks will be set up. Proceeds will benefit Prince William County non-profits. Upcoming showings include Grease on August 1 and Field of Dreams August 15 .
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 470,000 residents.