2014 YEAR IN REVIEW: We Remember T. Clay Wood Manhunt, other top Stories

| December 31, 2014 | 0 Comments | News

2014As we transition from 2014 to 2015, Bristow Beat remembers our top stories.

The manhunt for alleged murderer Edward Everett Hale outside of T. Clay Wood Elementary School had all of us concerned for the students in session at nearby Patriot High School in Nokesville.

And, even prior to the official the resignation of Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington, we followed the Brentsville Supervisor Election, leading to a larger than expected turnout of voters on Dec. 23.

As new stores and restaurants opened at the Promenade, we were the first to let you know, so you could secure a reservation, or snag a VIP seat at preview night.

In 2014, we look back upon so many stories that affected our lives, our community, and brought us together in good times and bad.

January: The year 2014 began on a sad note with friends and relatives gathered to remember 2012 Patriot graduate 19-year-old Joshua Morrison who died on Jan. 3 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Morrison was a well-known student at Patriot and baseball star. Prince William Police ruled out drugs, alcohol and speeding as contributing factors in his accident. After his death, a Patriot student composed a song in memory of Morrison. And later, the Pioneers retired his baseball jersey in their first game against Battlefield.

Bristow and Haymarket Beat readers also learned in January that Haymarket Police Chief James Roop had been suspended on allegations of inappropriate actions and that Mayor David Leake called for an outside investigation. The issue caused a clash between the Mayor and Town Council, and Roop resigned at the end of his suspension.

February: February began with Prince William Police investigating multiple church burglaries in Nokesville. The School Board had many parents upset when they agreed to take time away from recess to meet required school hours after incurring so many days off for inclement weather.

March: Bank robberies figured prominently in March of 2014, which began with police searching for the suspect who robbed the Carter Bank & Trust on Fitzwater Drive in Nokesville. Police identified the suspect’s vehicle, which was recorded on a nearby surveillance camera; then they were able to successfully apprehend the couple involved in the robbery.

The driver of the truck, that turned onto its side, causing the Braemar fuel spill in July of 2013, received his punishment in March. He was cited for reckless driving, but only received fines and probation.

April: The Virginia Press Association honored Bristow Beat in April for Best Breaking News Coverage 2013 for an online media outlet, for its all night coverage of the July 2013 fuel spill in Braemar. Bristow Beat’s Kathy Smaltz also won for best online column, Busy in Bristow, featuring a poignant piece on what it is like to live through a school shooting, and Bristow Beat took home a third place prize in education coverage as well.

Meanwhile, the Promenade at Virginia Gateway held its grand opening celebration and debuted several new retailers.

And finally, after months of discussion and debate, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted a tax rate of 1.148, and funded the building of the Gainesville Regional Library.

May: In May, Bristow Stable owner, Larry Dale Sams was charged with 57 counts of animal cruelty. This led the Prince William Animal Shelter to invite the media to meet the lively animals after they have been properly fed and returned to health. A little lamb named Patches stole the show.

In January, the judge decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute Sams since his negligence did not fit the law’s definition of animal cruelty.

However, another Bristow arrestee was not so fortunate. Bristow Bank robber, Jules Coy, 21, who robbed the Braemar Village Plaza Bank of America, received four years in a dramatic sentencing despite witness testimony that he is an otherwise upstanding young man.

June: With summer fast approaching Bristow Beat readers worried about the Gainesville Middle School boy who went missing after school. Fortunately, he was found in a wooded area of Gainesville unharmed the next morning.

July: The debate over immigration of undocumented children hit home in July as it was revealed that Bristow’s Youth for Tomorrow had an agreement with the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to house some of the children as part of its Unaccompanied Minor Program. The county tried to distance itself from the program by releasing a statement that the program was not utilizing county resources. Still, the housing of the children in Bristow caused tension within the community. At one point, two residents held a sign defending YFT’s actions. Their stance was met with both support and derision.

August: Bristow Beat covered the U.S. Coast Guard’s search for a small plane that failed to land at the Manassas Airport. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot was believed to have lost consciousness during the flight.

September: In September, the Prince William Planning Commission gave its approval to the new development Birkwood at Braemar. The proposed development is still awaiting approval from the Board of County Supervisors once Brentsville has a seated supervisor.

Also in September, the Prince William GOP disqualified candidate Scott Jacobs from seeking the Republican nomination for Brentsville Supervisor after he failed to send in his application form on time via the mail. This led the GOP to announce that Jeanine Lawson is the only qualified candidate for supervisor. Then, Jacobs announced his independent bid for supervisor. Lawson celebrated her unchallenged nomination at a well-attended Republican Mass Meeting held in late September in which she was officially declared the Republican Candidate for Brentsville Supervisor.

October: October proved to be a frightening month for the community as Bristow Beat closely covered the murder of Bristow woman, Jessica Wilson, which escalated to a full-fledge manhunt that appeared to place school children in danger.

Police were searching for murder suspect Edward Everett Hale, 35 after he fled Wilson’s home Sunday. On Monday morning, Oct. 20, T. Clay Wood Elementary School reported to police that his vehicle had been parked overnight in their school parking lot. Immediately, Wood students were prohibited from entering the building and school buses were rerouted to Brentsville District High School. Meanwhile, Patriot High School on the adjacent campus was already in session. That school went into lock down.

Police scoured the premises on foot, via helicopters, and using officers and trained K9s. They fortunately located Everett’s body on the baseball field. He had apparently fatally shot himself the night before. The T. Clay Wood administration heralded Custodial Manager Oscar Benitez for recognizing a car parked overnight in the lot and bringing it to the attention of the administration.

In lighter news, Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant and Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar announced they signed leases with Virginia Gateway Promenade.  Firebirds Restaurant known for its steak, wine and ambiance also opened to much fanfare.

November: Cabelas outdoor and sporting goods store announced in November that it would be opening a new store in the Virginia Gateway Center. That regional store will replace the Betco Block Plant industrial property in Gainesville, which is visible from I-66. Chairman Corey Stewart said he believes it will be a good economic driver for the area.

Readers also celebrated an announcement that Elite Shooting Sports opened a shooting range along Balls Ford Road.

In the midst of the national controversy regarding police officers and how they treat suspects they apprehend, Prince William Police officers had been assaulted multiple times across the county all during Thanksgiving weekend.

December: The race for Brentsville District Supervisor came to a conclusion just in time for Christmas. Bristow Beat cosponsored the race’s only candidates debate with Potomac Local that was held at Linton Hall School on Dec. 9. But, the long-fought race for Brentsville District Supervisor came to an end with a decisive victory for Republican Jeanine Lawson. Independent Scott Jacobs and Democrat Eric Young bowed out gracefully.

Also in politics, Bristow Beat broke the story that Milt Johns announced he will not seek reelection as School Board Chairman in 2015.

Another announcement from School Board included the adoption of a pre-Labor Day start date for schools in 2015. The announcement was mainly received favorably by parents.

Feel free to share your most memorable news item this year! 

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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