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Issue 154

Friday, March 3, 2023

Prince William County

Dear Neighbors,

In addition to all the great information in this issue of The Wheeler Report, I would like to highlight two items from the Tuesday Board of County Supervisors' meeting here. The first one is the Board's actions in addressing data center noise concerns and the second is the County's proposed budget.  

Data Center Noise

As outlined in the County Press Release, due to concerns regarding data center uses, the Board:

The County Budget

County Executive Christopher Shorter presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 (FY2024) Budget, which starts on July 1, 2023. Although it may seem perplexing, fiscal years are commonly not aligned with the calendar year and, for government budgets, often begin six months before to the named year.

Two items I want to highlight in the proposed budget are: 

  • The tax rate has been lowered by 6 cents, from $1.03 to $.977 to offset a 6% increase in average home values. This proposed decrease results in an average tax bill increase of 1% or $49. 
  • The vast majority of increases in spending go toward increased compensation for County staff, which is based on a compensation study to make Prince William County more competitive regionally, and an increase in the transfer to the schools, who still lag regionally in spending per pupil. 

This is the beginning of the budget season. It will continue to be adjusted through April. I encourage you to attend the virtual meeting tomorrow (registration link is below the date), Saturday, March 4, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. More opportunities for involvement during the process can be found here. You can read the proposed budget in its entirety, as well as learn more in the 32-page overview, by visiting its website, and reading the press release.

Feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns about either of these items. We will gladly work with County staff to provide you the information you request.

In Service,

Chair Ann Wheeler

Chair's Calendar

Black History Month Art Tour

Friday, February 24, Chair Wheeler's Office toured the African American Voices and Vision art show celebrating Black History Month at the Open Space Arts at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center. The show was hosted by the PWC Arts Council and Prince William Art Society.

Black History Month Celebration

Saturday, February 25, Chair Wheeler participated in the Town of Dumfries Black History Month Event at the Little Union Baptist Church. The celebration included dramatic interpretation, music, and dancing. Reverend Cozy Bailey was the guest speaker. Chair Wheeler, along with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Mayor Derrick Wood (bottom right) provided the closing remarks.

The History of the Church and its Founding Matriarch

The Church has a fascinating history and, now in its third sanctuary, has always been on Mine (Batestown) Road, which derives its name from Mary Bates. Born into slavery, Mary was an unusual in that she gained favor with her owners and enjoyed many privileges, including being taught to read and write.

Along with other Blacks on the plantation, Mary received religious instruction by the mistress and held their own camp meetings. Mary was permitted to marry a young slave named John Thomas from an adjoining plantation, and following emancipation they became stalwart members of the Black community that formed around Cabin Branch Run.

Early freedom years presented many problems for former slaves. The inhabitants of Cabin Branch (later referred to as Batestown) found comfort and assistance when they visited the small general store operated by the Thomas’s. Mary Bates Thomas was a letter writer for many illiterates of both races, administered strange medications that proved remarkably effective, and as a midwife delivered a major percentage of the babies born during that era.

During the last quarter of the 19th Century, two Baptist Churches for Blacks were erected that the inhabitants of Cabin Branch traveled to, some by foot and some in horse and wagon. Mary believed she and her neighbors needed a church of their own; and persuaded John to donate the needed land in 1901. When the building was completed in 1903, it was given its present name, Little Union Baptist Church.

New Board Member Ceremony

Monday, February 27, Chair Wheeler participated in the Swearing In Ceremony for newly elected Gainesville Magisterial District Supervisor Robert B. "Bob" Weir (County News issue 153). You can watch the ceremony, including Chair Wheeler's remarks, in the video below.

Saying Thank You

Wednesday, March 1, Chair Wheeler participated in the retirement party for Stella Krull. During Stella's 21 year career with PWC government, she served 18 years in the BOCS Chair's office, including during Chair Wheeler's term.

Happy Birthday

Thursday, March 2, Chair Wheeler participated Prince William County resident Ella's 101st Birthday Party. During the festivities, Chair Wheeler presented Ella with a special commendation.

Talking About the Arts

Thursday, March 2, Chair Wheeler spoke with Arts News Host Host Vaze Haze. The online magazine is published bimonthly by the Prince William County Arts Council. During the 30-minute video, Chair Wheeler and Vaze each worked on painting. There is a video of the half-hour interview here.

Department Event

Thursday, March 2, Chair Wheeler attended the PWC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism annual State of the Parks meeting. During the event, which was led by Department Director Seth Hendler-Voss (left), included the 2022 Annual Report and video overview.

Next Meeting

Tuesday, March 7

2:00 pm

For Public Comment Time options visit SpeakUp! Prince WilliamRemote speakers must sign up by 5:00 pm on Monday, March, 6. In-person speakers can sign up at the meeting.

View the Agenda
Register to Speak Remotely

Board Actions During the February 28 Meeting

Proclaimed February 28, Montford Point Marine Day to honor the service and sacrifices of the first African-American recruits in the United States Marine Corps. During the 1940s, roughly 20,000 black Americans trained in harsh, segregated conditions at the North Carolina Montford Point Marine Base. They were housed in prefabricated huts, only permitted on the Camp Lejeune main base if escorted by a white Marine, and their training camp was separated from the white residents by railroad tracks. 

In 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. Potomac Magisterial District Supervisor Andrea Bailey's (second from left) office initiated the proclamation. Munford Point Marine and PWC Resident Master Gunnery Sergeant Carroll W. Braxton (left of Chair Wheeler) and Marine Corps Base Quantico Colonel Michael Brooks (right of Chair Wheeler) accepted the proclamation.

Congressional Gold Medal

Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. While the first recipients included citizens who participated in our early wars, it has been broadened to include pioneers space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science, humanitarians, public servants, athletes, entertainers, and foreign recipients. At least two-thirds of the Members of the House and 67 Senators must cosponsor any Congressional Gold Medal legislation.

Proclaimed March Irish American Heritage Month honoring the millions of Americans whose roots trace their back to Ireland’s shores. Early Irish immigrants endured hardships to build new lives and subsequently transformed our largest cities into centers of commerce and industry. They have made great cultural, spiritual, and economic contributions which exemplified the diversity of our Nation. Vince Fitzpatrick, Publicity Chair for the Greater Manassas St. Patrick's Day Parade, accepted the proclamation.

See County Happenings below for more information about the parade!

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization. The Order can trace its roots back to a series of similar societies that existed in Ireland for more than 300 years. Today it exists in America, Canada, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. PWC has three AOH Divisions.

See County Happenings below for details on the Greater Manassas St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Commended Ebenezer Baptist Church on its 140th Anniversary to celebrate its achievements and longevity, as well as recognizing the longstanding faith and history of African Americans in our community

throughout history. The church stands as one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in eastern PWC. Pastor Reverend Dr. Charles Arthur Lundy accepted the proclamation

Land to build Ebenezer Baptist Church was first purchased in 1881. Ebenezer was the first Negro Church established in this part of Northern Virginia. The Reverend Lewis Henry Bailey, a former slave and a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Alexandria was the founder.

County News

Time Sensitive Budget Community Meeting

The Office of Management and Budget is hosting a virtual meeting tomorrow (registration link is below the date) on the Proposed FY2024 Budget and the Proposed FY2024-2029 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Saturday, March 4, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. The event will include opportunities for participants to ask questions about the proposed budget and CIP. Register to attend here (registration link is below the date).

School Environmental News

PWC Public Schools is installing roof-top solar power systems at twelve schools starting this spring. The schools will receive solar power with no upfront capital investment through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Secure Solar Futures, a provider of on-site clean energy and educational programs to K-12 schools. The company will own and operate all solar equipment and sell the power to schools at a rate lower than the local electric utility during the agreement term.

 The School Sites to Receive Solar Power

  • High Schools: Battlefield, Freedom, and Gainesville.
  • Middle Schools: Beville and Potomac Shores
  • Elementary Schools: Chris Yung, Covington-Harper, John D. Jenkins, Kilby, Kyle Wilson, Leesylvania, and Minnieville. 

Once the solar power systems are completed PWC Schools will:

  • Save the division an estimated $16 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. 
  • Produce enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 779 homes and avoid 4,005 tons of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. 

Program Back in Effect

The County Yard Waste program (issue 82) resumed March 1. Curbside collection will take place weekly, separate from trash and recycling. To ensure collection, residents must place yard waste in biodegradable paper bags or containers labeled “Yard Waste.” Labels are available at the PWC Landfill and Balls Ford Road Compost Facility. Self-made labels are acceptable. Plastic bags cannot be used. The program runs from March through December.

Calling all Student Artists

Clerk of the Circuit Court, Jacqueline Smith, Esq., is calling for artwork from 1st through 12th grade students in PWC and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park for her 3rd Annual Law Day Artwork Contest illustrating the theme, “the Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration.” The submission deadline is Wednesday, April 12. Learn more on the contest and how to participate here.

Law Day, celebrated annually in May, was established by President Eisenhower in 1958 to increase awareness about the rule of law in a free society. The Law Day theme, “The Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration”, encourages civil discourse and decision making amongst many in the law profession and in classrooms.

Design Challenge, Writing Contest, and a Survey

PWC Public Libraries is offering three opportunities this month for people of all ages to participate in contests and feedback to improve library services. Both contests and the survey are available through Friday, March 31

Art Design Challenge

All ages can submit artwork for the 2023 Summer Reading Tote. Two winning entries will be featured on this year’s tote bags. Submissions must be designed around this year’s theme, “All Together Now.“ Full contest details can be found online here.

Writing Contest

Students in grades 9 – 12 can submit an essay, in 350 words or less, on how the library has positively impacted their life. The winning submission will receive a $300 cash prize sponsored by the Prince William Library Foundation. Full contest details can be found here.

Feedback Survey

Complete a two-minute survey to tell the library about your recent library visit(s). Your feedback will be used to adapt services to the needs and wants of the community. Printed surveys are available at all 12 branches or online in English here and Spanish here.

Now Hiring

PWC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism is hosting a Lifeguard Job Fair Sunday, March 5, 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, at the Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center in Woodbridge. Certificate training offered and a flexible schedule at one of two water parks or multiple community pools. Must be at least 15 years old by June 15. Reserve your interview and swim test time here. If you can't make it this weekend, new swim test dates will be added weekly here.

Mark Your Calendar

Registration opens on Tuesday, March 7, the PWC Parks, Recreation, and Tourism award winning Summer Camps. Voted Best Summer Camps again in 2023 by the readers of NorthernVirginia Magazine, a wide variety of partial day specialty camps and full day weekly traditional camps are offered. The online 2023 Summer Camp Guide is available now with registration instructions and tips, as well as the full camp line-up for review.

Register Early Incentive

Register by Friday, March 31, for any full day camp and receive $50 in Parks Play Money! Limit one per family. May be redeemed on admissions, programs, and camps. Not valid on food & beverage purchases. Play Money will be sent via email to eligible families May 1.

County Happenings

Easter Egg Hunts

PWC Office of Historic Preservation is hosting two Easter Egg Hunts. Space is limited, so register as soon as possible if you want to participate.

Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre Scrambled Egg Hunts

Saturday, March 25, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Peter Rabbit has created trouble by replacing the candy and toys in the eggs with puzzle pieces. Egg hunting areas are divided by family groups of six or less, with a time limit of 30 minutes. Once your puzzle is completed, turn it in to receive a gift basket for the family filled with treats, prizes, and more. Fee is $30 per egg hunt and advanced registration is required. For families who need special or individual assistance please contact Veronica Laughman, ADA Coordinator, at or 703-792-8066 before March 25.

Rippon Lodge Easter Egg Trail

Saturday, April 1, 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

Look for hidden objects, do physical tasks, tell a joke, and more as you walk the trail to receive your eggs, including some special ones for the 275th anniversary of Rippon Lodge Historic Site. Bring your own basket. Family units no larger than 5 allowed at one time. Parental supervision is required along the trail. The 30-minute hunt times begin at 10:00 am for ages 3 and under, 11:30 am for ages 4 through 6, and 2:00 pm for ages 7 through 11. Fee is $5.00 and advanced registration is required.

Be Sure to Wear Green

The annual Greater Manassas St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick-off on Saturday, March 11, at 11:00 am. The family-friendly event will commence at the intersection of Prescott Avenue and Quarry Road near Old Town Manassas. Learn more about the route and parking here. Come out and celebrate the Grand Irish Tradition with several pipe bands, Irish culture groups, Irish dance groups, and the Manassas community!

Volunteers Needed

Parade Marshals volunteers are needed to monitor the Parade route to make sure it is safe and orderly. Parade Marshals serve in several areas before and during the parade:

  • Stationary Marshals along parade route assist with crowd control.
  • Division Marshals assist participants before and during parade.

If you are interested in being a Marshal, please complete this online form. Detailed Parade Marshal instructions will be provided via e-mail. The Parade Committee will host a pre-parade breakfast, on the day of the parade, where Parade Marshal assignments will be made.

County Kudos

#1 in the U.S.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has experienced "Holland in Virginia," Burnside Farms' Festival of Spring has been voted the #1 Tulip Festival in the Country by The Travel. With more than a million bulbs planted with over 200 varieties of tulips and over 40 varieties of daffodils, it is a spectacular pick-your-own event. Check out the video below to learn more about the event and see what all the fuss is about.

Burnside Farms has been welcoming guests to its Festival of Spring since 2012, making it one of the longest-running spring festivals of its kind in North America! The spring season only lasts about 3 weeks and exact timing is very hard to predict as these flowers bloom according to the spring weather patterns and Mother Nature is in charge of that. You can sign-up to be notified when tickets go on sale, check the announcement bar at the top of the website, its Facebook page, or Instagram account for information and updates. Tickets will be available closer to opening day. Until then, annual passes can be purchased here which includes its Summer of Sunflowers.

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. 
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