Issue 28
Friday, August 21, 2020
Prince William County
Dear Neighbors,

I guess nothing about 2020 is business as usual. Typically August is when people enjoy the last full breath of summer. A time to slow down and take a pause before getting into full swing after Labor Day. Well, if this issue of The Wheeler Report is any indication, that isn't happening this year. This August, there's a lot happening.

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all who attended my Strategic Planning Community Conversations. Your level of engagement was wonderful! With well over 100 total participants, we were able to hear a broad range of perspectives and ideas. Once all the District Supervisors have hosted their conversations, the process will move into the next steps outlined in an article below.

Also in this issue, you will find a new high school course, a recent unity conversation, details on an event I participated in hosted by Virginia US Senator Mark Warner, COVID-19 updates, voting information, daycare news, school news, a business announcement, a health care announcement, congratulations to several county departments, an awareness day and an end of summer tip.

Before I close, I want to speak to all of you about COVID-19. Recently, we are seeing a slight uptick in cases and positive rates. We need to be more vigilant and everyone needs to do their part. Please follow, and encourage others to follow, all the basic preventative measures recommended by the CDC. This includes frequent hand washing, wearing a face covering, avoiding crowds and staying at least 6 feet away from other people when out. Let's all do our part to get through this together. You can find more information on local testing and what to do if you think you are experiencing symptoms at the county testing web page.

In Service,
Chair Ann Wheeler
We Have A New High School Course
Governor Ralph Northam announced this week our county is one of 16 Virginia school divisions offering a new high school-level elective course this academic year to increase understanding of African American history. The full-credit course covers precolonial Africa through today. Students will be introduced to key concepts in African American history, from early beginnings in Africa through the transatlantic slave trade, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era and to the present.

Students will also learn about African American voices, including many not traditionally highlighted, and their contributions to the story of Virginia and America. The course includes a capstone project requiring students to conduct independent research on a question or problem of their choosing and to demonstrate a deeper understanding of African American history.
“We can expect young Virginians to understand the enduring impacts of systemic racism only when they fully understand both the oppression experienced by African Americans and their significant contributions to STEM, the arts, education, law, and advocacy.” 
Atif Qarni
Secretary of Education 
Community Conversations
On August 25, 2020, community leaders representing faith organizations in the county and Acting Chief Jarad Phelps of the Police Department, held a discussion to talk about community-police relations and promoting unity. Their in-depth discussion was recorded and is available for viewing.
Education Roundtable
A Listening Event
Chair Wheeler participated in an Education Roundtable event organized by US Senator Mark Warner on Friday, August 21 at newly renamed Unity Reed High School (Issue 21). Topics included the impact of virtual learning on Title 1 schools, broadband access, and return to learning in the age of COVID-19. In addition to Senator Warner and Chair Wheeler, participants included school administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
"I am grateful to Senator Warner for organizing this event and inviting me to participate. It underscored my firm commitment to ensuring our schools receive the additional funds they need during these unprecedented times."
Ann Wheeler, Chair At-Large
Prince William Board of County Supervisors
Community Conversations
Open through August 30, you still have a few days left to complete the 8-question online survey. Everyone is encouraged to participate so the county will have responses from a broad cross-section of the community. Please know all responses are kept strictly anonymous.
Next Steps
Following the closing of the survey and conclusion of the community conversations, the process will move into the following:

Identify Priorities
September 2020
The Strategic Planning Team will analyze input from the survey and community conversations to identify priorities in each focus area. Then they will facilitate work sessions with BOCS to get input on Strategic Plan goals.

Develop the Draft Strategic Plan
September through December 2020
Based upon community input and BOCS direction, the Strategic Planning Team will create a draft of the Strategic Plan with goals, objectives, initiatives, and performance measures.
Beginning in December, the Strategic Planning Team will present their draft to the BOCS and community for review and their comments/feedback. The Wheeler Report will keep you informed when this happens so you can continue to be part of the process.
Change In Voting
Friday, August 21, a federal judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Virginia. The ruling resulted in the suspension of the requirement an absentee ballot voter have a witness observe and sign the ballot envelope. The lawsuit was filed in response to possible health concerns by the requirements during the pandemic. Additional information on the November election, including other changes, can be found in Issue 23.
You have until October 23 to request your absentee ballot. However, it is recommended all who intend to vote via mail request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Also, it is strongly recommended you complete your ballot when you receive it and mail it promptly.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) extended the general moratorium on utility shutoffs from August 31 until September 16. This gives the General Assembly, currently in special session, time to enact any legislation addressing the impact of the COVID-19 on utility customers.
There's Still Time
Separate state and county grant programs for small businesses and non-profits whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are still accepting applications. Learn more about both below and visit web pages for complete eligibility requirements.
The Rebuild VA Grant Fund, featured in Issue 24, provides financial grants for up to 3 times average monthly eligible expenses up to $10,000. Eligibility requirements include annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million and having no more than 25 employees.
Originally featured in Issue 14, the Small Business Relief Micro-Grant Program provides financial grants of up to $10,000. Eligibility requirements include gross revenues under $2.5 million in 2019 and being operational in the county for at least two years as of application date.
Additional Voting Information
Be A Part Of History
The general election this year is expected to have a record turnout. The county Office of Elections needs your help! We need 1,600 residents to work at 93 polling locations on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. Residents who serve as poll workers must be registered to vote in Virginia and receive training. Poll workers will be compensated for their time.
Be Informed
As we've covered in this and prior Wheeler Reports, there is a lot to navigate for this election. From ways to vote to changes in the process, it is a lot to know. To help you wade through it all and ensure you can participate, the county has provided a comprehensive article covering important things to know in preparation for the election.
New Options
The county's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will begin offering weekly daytime care starting on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Licensed Preschool for ages 3-PreK will be at the Sharron Baucom Dale City Recreation Center and are for half days. Grades K-8 will be at the Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center and the Pat White Center at Ben Lomond, for full or half days. Weekly rates range from $93 - $110 for preschool-age students and $68 - $135 for school-age students. Spaces are limited.
Learn more, including policies and procedures to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure, and register using the links below.
Opportunity To Better Understand
This upcoming school year, the PWC school system is utilizing Canvas, a powerful tool for blended and distance learning. The platform allows teachers to create virtual classrooms, supporting both real-time and self-paced learning. To help set everyone up for success, they are hosting virtual overview sessions for parents at 7 p.m. on September 1 and September 3. Parents will gain an understanding of Canvas, learn how to connect their parent accounts to their students' accounts, and be able to ask questions via the chat feature. Use the links below to register and learn more about Canvas.
This Is Life
Even if you don't have anyone school age in your home, its worth taking two minutes to view this fun and uplifting back to school video written and performed by PWC School's very own Math Teacher, Travis Tucker. You may even see someone you know in the video montage! A talented musician, Travis advanced to the top 16 on Season 4 of American Idol.
Business News
In The News
The U.S. Department of Defense has announced a new non-competitive contract for almost $200 million with Lockheed Martin, according to an InsideNoVa article. The contract is for the Navy’s submarine fleet. Lockheed's Rotary and Mission Systems facility in Manassas is slated to have 85% of the work. Currently, the location employs more than 1,000 people who specialize in sonar, acoustics and underwater technologies for the Navy. 
Health Care
Approval Granted
Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday, August 21, Virginia has received approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to proceed with a state-based health insurance exchange. This allows Virginia to take over some functions of its current federal exchange beginning with open enrollment this November and puts the Commonwealth on a path to full control by 2023.
Some Details
By establishing the Virginia Exchange, the Commonwealth can implement policies to better address costs. It will be able to work directly with insurance companies to meet the health coverage needs of all Virginians purchasing coverage, including small business employers. Through the Exchange, Virginia will also be able to provide more targeted outreach and enrollment services and extend the time Virginians have to enroll in coverage, if needed.
The Neabsco Creek Boardwalk was one of six gold medal winners of the Department of Environmental Quality's 2020 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards for innovative projects improving Virginia’s environment. The three-quarter-mile boardwalk connects several formerly separated park sites, creating the Neabsco Regional Park. It is also a key link in the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trial, an 800-mile long corridor following the Potomac River. Built using an innovative, environmentally sensitive top-down method, the boardwalk provides access to the tall grasses and marsh which filter pollution from the river and provide a rich habitat for winged wildlife to include blue herons, wood ducks and red-winged blackbirds.
"We're getting a diversity of people. We're getting a diversity of ages. It's just an amazing project in that regard."
Brendon Hanafin
Chief, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism's Planning and Capital Projects Division 
Congratulations also go to PWC Risk and Wellness Services Division (Risk), one of four Bronze Award winners, for their program to find and prevent fuel leaks before they become a problem. After finding there were no established comprehensive plans, Risk developed their own. One key component of their plan included a proactive inspection program of the county's roughly 150 above-ground fuel tanks, most with a capacity of 500 gallons or less. Through these inspections, they found many had evidence of past or ongoing leaks and were in poor enough condition that failure was a concern. Over a 4 year period, the county made over $60,000 worth of repairs to existing tanks and replaced more than a dozen.
"By properly managing the tanks and preparing to respond to spills, should they occur, we are able to prevent the environmental impact and cost that large spills or leaking tanks can lead to."
Jennifer Boede
Specialist Risk and Wellness Environmental
The Construction Management Association of America – National Capital Chapter selected the Dumfries Road Shared-Use Path as its 2020 Project of the Year in the Infrastructure in the less than $25 Million category for its complexity, size, challenges, unique circumstances, schedule and budget. The 4,300-foot project, running between Exeter and Country Club Drives, offers transportation options for activities such as cycling, walking, running and rollerblading for multiple communities along the road. In addition to increased safety, the path provided easier access to commuter bus stops along Dumfries Road and added a new shelter to the existing bus stop at Exeter Drive.
"The shared-use path greatly enhances safety along the corridor for pedestrians and cyclists who can now use the trail and updated crosswalks, instead of being on the shoulder of the roadway."
Gladis Arboleda
Engineer Department of Transportation
An Important Recognition
Monday, August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual event to raise awareness of overdose, reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, and encourage discussion of evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy. The day also serves to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of a drug overdose.
Featured in Issue 26, Prince William Community Services Board is offering free, virtual training to counteract overdoses through September 30. The workshops, REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education for Virginia, teach people how to recognize an overdose and administer naloxone, or Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an overdose. For more information or questions please contact Gabriella Delbo at 703-792-7737 or via email.
There are many types of substances that people can become addicted to - such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs - leading to substance use disorders. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse, the county has many resources to help.
The End Of Summer Is Coming
Do It Correctly
The PWC Department of Public Works is encouraging residents who will be draining their pools to incorporate the following steps:
  • Let your pool sit untreated for at least 10 days to allow any chlorine in the water to evaporate completely before draining.
  • Drain your pool at a slow rate in a grassy area so it seeps into the ground and try not to do it all at once.
  • Emptying pools into stormwater drains is strongly discouraged.
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.