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Issue 172

Friday, July 14, 2023

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

I want to take a moment and speak about civility - particularly in politics, in the Board Chamber, and in communications. The term "civility" refers to using polite language in formal conversations and is closely related to courtesy and consideration. Unfortunately, it seems that civility has been lacking lately, not just in Prince William County, but throughout our nation. 

This week, I received a constituent email in response to a Board member's email disrespectfully expressing their disappointment with a vote in which they were in the minority. It's never easy to be in the minority on a vote, but it is a fundamental aspect of our democracy, and the reason our Board consists of eight members, not just one. I'm sharing a constituent portion of that email below:

“These lunatics (led by Queen Lunatic Ann) have never had the best interest of PWC residents at heart. However, they were put in place by East-of-95 Hoodbridge voters who tend to like lawlessness and un-American candidates.”

These comments exemplify the responses often received when Board members' communications aim to provoke reactions rather than foster constructive dialogue. It is disheartening that some individuals resort to such language. Their tone signals that personal attacks are acceptable, which is also reflected during our Board meetings' Public Comment Time.

Promoting respectful and constructive political discourse is the responsibility of everyone within the community, myself included. There are ways in which we can all contribute to creating a culture in which changes to policy don’t lead to abusive language and incivility aimed at elected officials and our neighbors in the community. 

To do this we must engage in political discussions with respect and refrain from personal attacks. Focus on the issues and treat others' opinions with courtesy, even if you disagree. Seek common ground and emphasize shared values to help build understanding and bridge divisions. Attentively listen to others' viewpoints without interruption is key to fostering constructive dialogue. Fact-checking information before sharing it ensures accuracy and helps prevent the spread of misinformation.

Lastly, being open to learning from others and being willing to change your viewpoint based on new information, or, if not changing your viewpoint, understanding why another person would hold that view, contributes to a more inclusive and understanding political environment.

By embracing these practices, all of us can play a role in fostering respectful and constructive political discourse within our community, creating a healthier political environment that promotes collaboration and positive change. Leadership and setting a positive tone matters.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Chair's Calendar

Mental Health And Substance Abuse Assembly

Sunday, July 9, Chair Wheeler attended the Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) assembly with Governor Glenn Youngkin. The event brought several hundred VOICE Leaders and partners from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association to focus their combined efforts on the mental health and substance abuse crisis facing Virginia’s youth.

During the assembly, stories of pain, and loss were shared, but also stories of hope and the Governor made the following commitments to VOICE and the coalition partners:

  • Consider the coalition’s request to invest $110 million in state funding for mental health Crisis Receiving Centers in the FY2025 state budget.
  • Meet with VOICE and our coalition allies again in September, to consider additional reforms and funding for youth behavioral health that the coalition plans to develop, in the lead-up to the 2024 General Assembly;
  • Keep prioritizing funding support for behavioral health reform as his administration’s number one priority for the rest of his term.

Governor Youngkin also shared details of his administration’s proposed Right Help, Right Now three-year plan for overhauling Virginia’s behavioral health system. The comprehensive approach is built on six pillars, sets clear and achievable goals, and includes immediate action to get people the “right help, right now.” The Governor’s revised budget includes over $230 million in new funding, including an initiative to fully-fund 30+ new mobile-crisis teams across the Commonwealth so Virginians who call the “9-8-8” hotline can receive the care they need. 

Next Meeting

Tuesday, July 25

2:00 pm and 7:30 pm

Links to the agenda and to register to participate in Public Comment Time remotely will be shared in issue prior to the meeting.

The Tuesday, July 18, 2:00 pm BOCS Work Session was cancelled.

County News

Seeking to Improve Digital Access

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development is requesting residents complete a 10-minute survey of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Digital Opportunity Plan. Participation will help the Commonwealth and the County better understand residents’ experience with broadband/internet services, gauge service affordability, and determine if broadband performance is adequate. You can take the survey online, or via paper at any PWC Library.

Digital Opportunity, according to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, is when all individuals and communities have the information technology needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. It is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. 

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's Office of Broadband has been authorized to administer several planning grant resources to local governments, nonprofits and other groups, to better understand the digital divide of lack of broadband access, affordability, and adoption.

Mother Nature's Classroom

Thanks to a grant from The Cecil & Irene Hylton Foundation via the Prince William Parks Foundation, more than 800 students from Title I PWC schools were awarded full scholarships to participate in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s Spring Science in the Park program. Specialty instructors provide hands-on science lessons for K-6th grade students based on the Virginia Standards of Learning Science curriculum in the County’s beautiful parks.

Learn More

Science in the Park Fall programs can be scheduled for September through mid-November and Spring programs can be scheduled from mid-March through May. You can create a custom designed program for your pod or cohort of mixed ages and grades. Cost is $10 per student. Find a program overview by grade here and registration forms here

Thinking of Going Solar

PWC is partnering with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) to bring Solarize NOVA to County residents to help them navigate the complexities of going solar. Through August 31, homeowners can sign up for a free, no commitment, solar home assessment and discounts from vetted LEAP installers. LEAP also provides ongoing customer support and education to streamline the process.

You can learn more by registering to attend one of Solarize Virginia's upcoming informational webinars. The free, one-hour sessions will walk you through how solar works, what you can expect when you sign up for Solarize, and more. There will also be a Q&A with program installers.

2023 is a great year for homeowners to make the switch to solar because Congress increased the federal investment tax credit (ITC) from 26% to 30% as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. The ITC allows homeowners to deduct a percentage of a solar energy system’s installation cost from their federal taxes with no cap on the value.

Business Growth

Twenty-nine small business owners received a certificate of occupancy/written authorization to ‘Open for Business’ from the PWC Department of Development Services Small Business Project Management (SBPM) Program in May 2023. One hundred and thirty-three small business owners opened their doors in the time period January - May 2023. Since 2018, the SBPM Program has served more than 1,922 small business owners. 

Transportation Feedback Requested

 The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is seeking feedback on a Strategically Targeted Affordable Roadway Solutions (STARS) study assessing potential safety, operational and multimodal improvements for Dale Boulevard. The study is assessing existing traffic, safety and multimodal conditions, including driver weaving issues at the Dale Boulevard/I-95 interchange and accommodations for people walking and biking. The STARS online survey is available here through Thursday, July 20, here.

The Dale Boulevard (Route 784) study area is just over a mile, extending from Gideon Drive to Route 1, and nearly half a mile of Rippon Boulevard (Route 1392) from Route 1 to Blackburn Road. Within the study limits, Dale Boulevard averages about 42,000 vehicles a day and Rippon Boulevard averages about 12,000.

Registration is Open

The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism's Preschool registration for the 2023-2024 school year has opened. The state-licensed program provides thoughtfully planned experiences and opportunities that stimulate learning in all developmental areas: social, emotional, physical, and cognitive. It includes choice and structured activities, whole group, small group and individual activities, as well as teacher and child-directed experiences. Class sizes are limited, so register early online, by calling 703-792-7060, or in person at your preferred Preschool location (in-person registration for Gro is being held at the Pat White Center at Ben Lomond).

County Kudos

A Life of Service

At the Tuesday, July 12, meeting the BOCS commended, affirmed, and recognized the life, legacy, and impact Dr. George M. Hampton made as an outstanding member of the PWC community. Hampton served as the political advisor of the Prince William Branch of the NAACP from 1975 to 1982. Hampton Middle School in Woodbridge is named after him. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger recently honored Dr. Hampton's life and legacy on the U.S House Floor in the video below.

Education and Military Service 

Dr. Hampton received a Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Science degree from Virginia State University, and a Doctor of Arts in Education from the University of Central Arizona. He served in various command and staff assignments during more than 20 years of service in the United States Army, including four years as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at Virginia State University. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Army Commendation Medal.

 Research Scientist Program Director

Following retirement in 1971 as a Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Hampton was a Research Scientist, Project Director, and Human Relations Specialist with American Institutes for Research. While there, he directed research and development projects in Asia and Africa that dealt with conflict resolution among Americans and host country nationals and between majority and minority Americans.

Leadership Development Program

He later joined the Institute for International Research as project director for the Marine Corps Leadership and Human Relations Program Development. Once the program was developed, he was Co-Director of the Marine Corps Leadership and Human Relations Institute in San Diego, California. This institute trained leadership instructors for the formal schools at Quantico and other major installations.

Professor and Entrepreneur

From 1967 to 1969, Dr. Hampton was an adjunct professor of psychology at the Far East Division of the University of Maryland, and from 1975 to 1979 he was an adjunct professor of human relations at Pepperdine University. In 1978, he established and served as President of G&A Associates, an organization designed to conduct research and training addressing racism, sexism, and cross-cultural problems in government and civilian industry.

Named in honor of Dr. Hampton, the George M. Hampton Foundation, is a nonprofit tax-exempt affiliate of the Pi Lambda Lambda Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Its programs have contributed thousands of dollars to local youth scholarships and other youth support programs such as mentoring, essay contests, high school talent hunt programs, and school supply drives. It has devoted considerable funds annually to community service activities including health fairs, blood drives, diabetes and cancer health initiatives, food and clothing drives, and more.

A few friends and family of Dr. Hampton who gathered at the McCoart Government Center for the commendation.

On June 30, 2023, two days before his death, Dr. George Hampton received the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that of the Kentucky Colonel, who are Kentucky's ambassadors of goodwill and fellowship around the world. Commissions as Kentucky Colonels are presented for contributions to the community, state, or nation and notable achievements of all kinds. Hampton’s favorite quote by President Theodore Roosevelt was “We have a duty to serve.”

County Happenings

Make a Difference

Through August 1, SPARK, PWC Schools, and Keep Prince William Beautiful (KPWB) is collecting school supplies for students in need. Items to donate include backpacks, pens, pencils, colored pencils, art supplies, notebooks, binders, and headphones. Bring your donation to the KPWB office located at 4391 Ridgewood Center Drive, Suite F in Woodbridge. For more information email [email protected] or call 571-285-3772.

SPARK stands for Supporting Partnerships and Resources for Kids and is the Education Foundation for PWC Public Schools. Through community and business partnerships, SPARK provides programs and initiatives to our schools that they may not otherwise have. Several programs are managed through SPARK, including the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program, better known as VA STAR.

From Parks, Recreation and Tourism

Saturday, July 22, 9:00 am to 11:00 pm Remote Controlled Car Race

Hosted in partnership with IAM-RC Hobby Shop, beginners ages 17 and older will have a chance to compete in PWC inaugural remote-controlled car race at Locust Shade Park. There will be a parking lot track and an-off road track. Cars will need a transponder and are limited to 2Cell Lipo Battery. More details will be sent to registered participants. Fee is $10.00. Register here.

Saturday, July 29, 9:00 am to 11:00 am Longest Drive Competition

A Longest Drive Competition for ages 18 and older will be held at the Locust Shade Park driving range. After the event bring a picnic and your family and stay to enjoy mini-golf, batting cages, warrior course, mountain biking and more to finish your day. Fee is $8.00. Register here.

From the Office of Historic Preservation

Wednesday, July 19, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm Take a Sip of History: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

From the Manassas Gap Railroad to the Woodbridge Airport and Old Dominion Speedway, learn how trains, planes and automobiles affected the development of PWC. Hosted at Water's End Brewery in Lake Ridge, you'll hear stories about how locals previously struggled to get somewhere fast and safe by air, road, rail, or river.

Water's End Brewery is brewing a special beer, Sip of History: Vienna Lager and 10% of all its draft beer sales on July 19 will be donated to the Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation.

Saturday, July 22, The Aftermath of Battle: The Pringle House Hospital by Lanternlight

Walk through the Pringle House General Hospital at the Ben Lomond Manor Historic Site in the aftermath of the Battle of First Manassas, talk to the soldiers and civilians who occupied the house then, and hear the ways their lives were forever changed. The thirty-minute tours start at 7:00 pm and end with the last tour at 9:00 pm. Fee is $10.00. Register here.

Helpful PWC Links

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. 
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