Issue 33
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

In the online world of news where everything needs to be click worthy, sometimes what you click on doesn’t reflect what you end up reading. A very recent example was a headline about Tuesday's board meeting, "Prince William supervisors reject attempt to end development plan near historic Black neighborhood." This was not only a mischaracterization, it was misleading. I want to take a few minutes to provide the necessary context and set the record straight.
Around 2016, the BOCS began implementing Small Area Plans addendums to the Comprehensive Plan, which drives land use. These plans were used to address changing marketplace demands in specific areas of the county. Since then, many completed Small Area Plans have successfully jump-started revitalization in certain areas, as well as cohesively guided growth occurring in others. There are others still in the works, which will eventually be absorbed into the new Comprehensive Plan to be completed in coming months. One of these is the Route 29 Small Area Plan. 
The current Comprehensive Plan calls for commercial and residential development along a portion of Rt. 29 in Gainesville. It was not consistent with current needs, so a Small Area Plan was brought forth. It was discovered this Small Area Plan affected a historically African American settlement, which is commonly known as the Carver Road Settlement. In light of this, the Small Area Plan did not advance. It was sent back to the Planning Department for adjustments to maintain the integrity of the Carver Road Settlement, including proposals to reduce the current zoning density in the Comprehensive Plan to provide it even greater protection.  
On Tuesday, a Board member proposed to eliminate the entire Small Area Plan for Route 29. However, eliminating the plan leaves all parts of the Route 29 corridor, including the Carver Road Settlement, exposed to the higher zoning called for in the current Comprehensive Plan. Simply put, the ability to utilize the Small Area Plan to further protect the Carver Road Settlement would be eliminated. The Board voted down this proposal with many members voicing their support for properly recognizing the historic significance of the Carver Road Settlement and the Planning staff was tasked with determining how to best proceed along the lines of greater recognition and protection.  
So, while the headline would lead you to believe the Board voted against protecting the Carver Road Settlement, they voted for the exact opposite. It is a shame the news headline did not reflect that perspective. 

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
The Power Of Community
Odds are you've driven past Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on Route 29 in Gainesville. Maybe you even cast more than a passing glance and know she has been sitting damaged and abandoned for years. If you know more, it could well be due to the efforts of state Delegate Danica Roem,13 District.

Mount Pleasant Baptist, a historic church with a predominately Black congregation, was founded in 1877. A pillar in the community, it was set on fire by an arsonist in August 2012. The inside of the church was destroyed and all of its contents (bibles, hymnals, choir robes, etc.) were ruined. For almost 8 years it has been waiting for help.

On June 2, Delegate Roem dusted off an almost forgotten GoFundMe account for its restoration and asked the community for help. And help came. In a little over 24 hours, $20,000 had been raised. A true champion, Delegate Roem has continued to keep Mount Pleasant in the spotlight. Around late August they met their $104,000 Phase I goal and very recently passed the halfway mark toward their $200,000 Phase II goal.

The journey ahead for Mount Pleasant is a long one. The seven phases of restoration are expected to cost just over $1 million. It's going to take considerable continued efforts and time to restore her to her old glory. Until then, the next time you drive by, take a moment to see the progress and more importantly, witness the power of community.
"When the national dialogue right now is centered on racial justice, now is the time for us to help out our neighbors"
Delegate Danica Roem
Virginia House of Delegates, 13th District
Community Conversations
Be Part Of the Dialogue
Chair Wheeler is joining Woodbridge District Supervisor Franklin in a virtual town hall discussion on Monday, September 28. The event starts at 7:00 pm and will focus on 2020 achievements as well as looking to the future.
Or call: 415-655-0001
If prompted, enter meeting code 1729239554##
To receive county COVID-19 alerts and testing updates text:
  • COVIDPWC to 888-777 for English updates
  • COVIDPWCES to 888-777 for Spanish updates
County Updates
At the BOCS meeting on September 22, the county's COVID-19 response updates were provided, to include:
  • Testing - Since July 13 the county has provided over 7,200 free COVID-19 tests
  • Rent, Mortgage and Utility Relief - Almost $900,000 in benefits have been distributed
  • Economy - Small businesses have reopened to pre-pandemic levels
  • Health Equity Events - Over 6000 bags of hand sanitizer, masks and educational literature have been distributed
Program Expanded
The Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (Issue 21) launched in June with federal CARES Act funding, has been expanded. Landlords can now apply to receive financial assistance for current and past-due rental payments dating back to April 1, 2020, on behalf of their tenants who qualify for the program. Financial assistance is provided in the form of a one-time payment with the opportunity for renewal.
Across the Commonwealth, more than 60% of the households assisted from August 27 to September 9 included children under 8 years old, and 58% included children ages 9-17. Of those who identified race, Black households accounted for more than 45% percent of those served, White households accounted for 30%.
Additional Funding
The county has accepted $1 million from the Virginia Department of Health in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) allocated from the Virginia Department of Health under the federal CARES, Act. The money will cover costs associated with COVID-19 expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020 to include staffing, testing supplies and managing laboratory capacity for free COVID-19 testing sites operated by the county.
Attention Small Businesses
Rebuild Va, the $70 million grant program for small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19, is expanding its eligibility criteria. Businesses that received funding from the federal CARES Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the pandemic are now also eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. Please help get the word out to small businesses.
Real Life Help
PWC and the City of Manassas are partnering with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Virginia Career Works, and the SkillSource Group to help community members affected by COVID-19 get back to work. Through $1.5 million in CARES Act funding from PWC and $400,000 from the City of Manassas, the ELEVATE program provides free resources for those displaced workers and supports businesses in upskilling their workforce. Additionally, the job portal enables businesses to find the talent they need.
Job Seekers Services Include:
  • Free job training through schools such as Northern Virginia Community College
  • Paid Work Experiences
  • Career Coaching
  • Financial Coaching and Workshops
  • Online Job Fairs
  • Virtual Training
County News
Making A Difference
The BOCS recently accepted a $351,909 grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to fully fund aid for mentally ill female inmates in the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center (ADC). The ADC launched its Mental Health Pilot Program in 2016. Available to female inmates with mental illness, the program reduces recidivism by providing counseling, re-entry services, and case management. On average, 80 percent of the jail's female population are eligible.
An Innovative Space
The Hylton Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce the opening of their new outdoor performance space, Hylton on the Hill. Located on a natural rise just behind the theater, the venue allows audience members to maintain proper physically distance. Performances start October 4. Prior to arrival, all visitors must complete the Mason COVID Health✓™.
Holding Strong
The County's AAA rating (Issue 16) received earlier this year, has been reaffirmed as 'stable' by all three credit rating agencies; Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. Maintaining this highest credit rating available is a reflection of our adherence to Principles of Sound Financial Management, as well as actions taken in response to the unexpected financial challenges of 2020.
"The Board of County Supervisors and County management work in concert to ensure our area remains fiscally sound and whole. It is encouraging to receive this recognition for our efforts to keep the County on a sound financial footing.”
Ann Wheeler
Chair At-Large
Education & Finances
Paying for College
Parents and high school seniors, mark your calendar to attend one of the upcoming Paying for College Workshops offered by The College Place-VA. You will hear about the important areas of focus in preparing to pay for a college education. The virtual workshops start at 6:00 pm and are offered October 1, 6 and 8.
Topics covered include:
  • College costs in VA
  • Federal and state financial aid
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form
  • Scholarships
  • Family conversations about college financial planning
Significant Savings
Like almost every institution, Virginia's public colleges and universities are being financially impacted by the pandemic. With interest rates at historic lows, Governor Ralph Northam has announced a plan to refinance existing bonds used for capital improvement projects. The plan will save Virginia’s public colleges and universities more than $300 million over the next two years.
“Helping public colleges and universities restructure their debt obligations allows them to focus their resources on the pressing needs they face right now as a result of the pandemic.”
Delegate Luke Torian
Virginia House of Delegates, 52nd District
House Appropriations Committee Chairman
Hometown Hero News
A Dignified Retirement
On September 11, 2020, an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 United States flags were collected by a Boy Scouts program at the Prince William County Landfill and Balls Ford Compost Facility. The torn and tattered flags were then retired in a solemn ceremony. Citizens and organizations may drop off their flags at the two Solid Waste Division sites. Each site has a special collection bin built and donated as Boy Scout Eagle Projects.
The Prince William County American Flag Collection Program
A joint venture between The Prince William District Boy Scouts, Keep Prince William Beautiful and Prince William County Solid Waste Division, has retired in excess of 20,000 US flags since its inception in 2014. 
Another Gee Whiz!
Tuesday, September 29, three PWC Fire And Rescue members will be setting out on an accomplishment of a lifetime. This is when Technician II Carolyn “Keri” Ackerman, Lieutenant Pecola “Coco” Francois, and recently retired Battalion Chief Tracey LaBass, are scheduled to begin their journey up to “The Roof of Africa,” Mt. Kilimanjaro. They are expected to reach the summit at sunrise, on Sunday, October 4th. 

The mountain is very demanding, requiring 16-18 hours/per day of walking on uneven ground (equivalent to 38,680 steps or 2,578 flights of stairs). Altitude is a major factor, making it hard to breathe because the amount of oxygen is low. The Wheeler Report wishes them success and the safest of journeys. You can follow their expedition on the Fire and Rescue Facebook page.
 “We can’t express the significance of this trip and what it means to us as women. Women of color, women of age, women who’ve had to prove themselves in a male-dominated organization.” 
Carolyn “Keri” Ackerman
Technician II
Prince William County Fire and Rescue
Mt. Kilimanjaro
Formed millions of years ago from the fallout of a volcanic eruption, Mt. Kili as it is called, is the highest single free-standing mountain in the world and one of the Seven Summits. The highest peaks of each of the seven continents, the Summits, ranging in accordance to their elevation from the highest to the lowest peak, are: Everest (Asia), Aconcagua (Argentina), Denali aka Mt. McKinley (Alaska), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Elbrus (Russia), Vinson Massif (Antarctica), and Carstensz Pyramid/Puncak Jaya (Indonesia).
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.