Doug Widener is a Gainesville resident and founder of Citizens Alliance of Prince William (“Putting Children and Families First”), an all-volunteer, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving county residents' quality of life.  Contact

The Aug. 21 “Back to school = back to trailers” article brought to mind some insightful – and disturbing – comments made at the annual joint meeting of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and School Board last Nov. 27.   

During a discussion about the proposal to eliminate trailers, Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, cited the use of trailers in Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun counties in questioning the “need to have a plan to completely eliminate trailers.”  Lillie Jessie, the Occoquan District’s school board member, immediately responded.     

In a chilling and memorable statement, Ms. Jessie first described problems during tornado drills as one aspect of her safety-related concerns “about children outside in trailers.  

She then said, As a principal, I always knew that a parent would forgive me, maybe, for not teaching their children how to read. But they would never forgive me for not keeping their kids safe. We can all put our hands over our ears and close our eyes and hope nothing ever happens in a trailer. But everybody in this room knows that we’re not living in the same world we used to live in.  So when we think about securing our kids, it’s very difficult to secure children in trailers.  The windows are up here, you’ve got little ones in there that the moment someone knocks on the door they will open the door.  I know this sounds like basic kind of information, but I would ask the board of supervisors to really consider [the elimination of trailers], because I don’t think we wait and I don’t think we compare ourselves to anyone else when it comes to safety.   

This exchange involving Supervisor Ruth Anderson and School Board member Lillie Jessie came just three weeks after a litany of trailer-related problems were outlined in a Prince William Times’ editorial, “Plan to eliminate classroom trailers deserves support and improvement.”   

Although Ms. Anderson stated the number of trailers used in Fairfax and Arlington counties, she failed to reveal how many fewer are being used in fast-growing Loudoun County compared to here. That oversight – intentional or not – gives added credence to the concerns expressed by Ms. Jessie and in the Prince William Times editorial.  Shocking facts include:  


  • Prince William County had only 9 percent more students than Loudoun County last school year (90,203 vs. 82,485). Yet, we have almost four times more trailers than Loudoun (184 vs. 47)this school year.   

  • Prince William shifted 29more trailers to 13 schools this year. Loudoun did not add any trailers. 

  • Prince William is now using a total of 72 trailers at 27 of our 64 elementary schools.  But Loudoun is using only 18 trailers at only 11 of its 58 elementary schools. None of the Loudoun elementary schools use more than two trailers, while 14 of ours use three or more trailers. 

  • Prince William is now using a total of 50 trailers at nine of our 19 middle schools. But Loudoun is using only two trailers at only one of its 16 middle schools. Four of our middle schools use seven or more trailers each   

  • Prince William is now using a total of 61 trailers at five of our 12 high schools But Loudoun is using only 24 trailers at only four of its 16 high schools.  Two of our high schools use 20 or more trailers each.      


It doesn’t have to be this way in Prince William County.  Citizens are increasingly aware of the need for more schools and inside classrooms, more and better-paid teachers, less new home development and “new and improved” county leadership. 

The writer is the founder and president of Citizens Alliance of Prince William (“Putting Children and Families First”) reach him at 

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(12) comments


From what I know of school shootings, either a disturbed student pulls weapons out of his back pack or an individual gets in and starts shooting. If you're envisioning the school librarian pulling a magnum 45 out of her handbag and opening fire in a corridor full of students, I think you're deluded as to the effectiveness of that. What next? Armour plated school buses (another "soft" target)? If the gun lobby will not allow our government to address the gun problem, nothing will change.


You're correct in saying that many of the shooters have been disturbed students. I'm not clear on who or what the individual is that gets in and starts shooting.

A properly trained and licensed concealed carry permit holder will not act in the melodramatic version of Dirty Harry that you described. That kind of comment tells me that you've succumbed to the provocateurs of gun confiscation solves everything propaganda preached non stop by liberal educators, mainstream media and the Democrat Party's leaders. That is the greatest delusion of all. The thinking which says that less guns means safer schools or any other place does nothing but embellish the boldness of the disturbed shooters which always results in way more horror, tragedy and suffering in the end.

Several times in this discussion I've credited you with speaking from your heart. Now I will tell you that if you actually believe that these bleeding heart fear mongers have a single ounce of earnest concern about the safety of our nation's children then you are dead wrong. They care about one thing. Their selves, not you, your children or mine. They are vivid living examples of exactly why our founding fathers included the 2cd Amendment to our Constitution. Take that right away and you nor any of your descendants will live to see the land of everlasting peace in America you've been promised.


I do speak from my heart, thank you for that. I do not think the concealed carry training is sufficient to be effective in that environment. Police urban training would help. These events are so unlikely to happen in a given location that when they do occur, having members of the public that are not on the front line ever day suddenly leap into action, it's just not tenable. They would have to take urban combat training and repeat it maybe once a month and I just don't think the benefit outweighs the risk. I have not succumbed to anyone's rhetoric; I am more pragmatic. I think about the given situation and use my experience of human nature and of firearms to come to a conclusion.


Ed you just made an old goat's day!

There are two very important (to me anyway) reasons for this. First throughout the exchanges you and I have had you've demonstrated that it is not that difficult to defend each other's opposite conclusions and opinions in calm and civilized ways. Second both you and JoesephGeorge have shown me respect in that you (both) know that I am your elder. Those are extremely valuable commodities to go forward with in life.

For your comments today they are well thought out and reasoned. The points you made that I might disagree with are few; not worth bantering further. I am much obliged to you!

Heck, maybe I'm not as old as I sometimes think that I am..?


“As a principal, I always knew that a parent would forgive me, maybe, for not teaching their children how to read. But they would never forgive me for not keeping their kids safe. We can all put our hands over our ears and close our eyes and hope nothing ever happens in a trailer. But everybody in this room knows that we’re not living in the same world we used to live in.“

If these people honestly believe what they're saying why in the world are they so adamantly against protecting the children from the most dangerous and imminent threat that exists in our new world? Thankfully Prince William County hasn't had to face the wholesale slaughter of our children in their schools. But hyper yelling, foot stomping demands insisting that our schools remain gun free zones flies straight into the face with total contradiction of their get the kids out of trailers justifications.

One hand begs to assure me that these people really care about our children while their other hand serves out a huge, defiant open arms invitation that leads directly into massive disasters, catastrophes and and unbelievably horrible suffering. That is the most chilling and memorable statement to consider Ms. Jessie, not reaching out for tornadoes as a pony-up excuse to get what you want.


We have armed police protection at schools. Allowing unqualified members of the community to carry weapons in the vicinity of schools makes it impossible to tell the good guys from the bad until it's too late.

The solution to the problem of too many guns is not to allow more guns...


Stop making sense Ed!!!


“Allowing unqualified members of the community to carry weapons..” is an oxymoronic statement. Every concealed carry permit holder must provide proof of their training and pass a background check. If there is a failure in that process then it belongs to a person or office that didn't exercise due diligence. The way you fix that is by holding people accountable instead of running to the media to blame the bad guys.

The latter part of your statement is further self-contradictory in that the whole purpose of concealed carry is that it is impossible for the bad guys to tell who the good guys are. So if a gray haired little old lady can pull a legally concealed carry Glock 19 out of her purse and stop an in progress mass school shooting I know that is a good thing.

I doubt seriously that each of our schools has an armed police officer present at all times. It doesn't matter though because one armed police officer isn't anywhere close to enough reliable fire power to handle an in progress mass shooting. Then there are only so many armed police officers available and the majority of them are kept 120%+ busy dealing with gang wars, armed robberies, home break ins, domestic violence calls, responding to accidents and testifying all day long in court cases that is a miracle there is any armed police officer left to do anything.

That is Réalville Ed1 and it isn't in France. It is right here in Prince William County Virginia now. Your heart appears to be in the right place but whoever or whatever your head is listening to ain't helping you or anyone else.


ccw, you do understand that a “to carry a weapon” has zero to do with a concealed carry permit, right? So who Ed is talking about is strictly related to someone who “probably passed” a background check is not necessarily a “responsible” gun owner.


Re: JosephGeorge --

At this point since Virginia is an open carry state what defines an unqualified member of the community? If open carry is legal and concealed carry requires a concealed carry permit how does an unqualified member of the community end up being classified that way?

And based on Ed's comment threading the needle with any common sense and/or legal logic gets even more difficult when the word “vicinity” enters. Now we have a situation where less guns carried by unqualified members of the community in the vicinity of schools is the solution. Does vicinity mean on the schools grounds physically or does it extend further to include public property such as streets and sidewalks or even private property if you happen to live across the street from a school? Depending on how far and wide the vicinity extends a person that legally cleaned a weapon at a table in the kitchen then walked into the living room to lock it up in a gun safe would be inside the restricted vicinity thus guilty of a punishable felony, arrested and thrown in jail.

We could carry this one-up-man man stuff on Ad Infinitum George but you need something besides fuzzy to outfox an old fox my friend. Ed spoke from his heart. You?


Not trying to “outfox” you ccw, especially when you’re doing that all on your own. Your slippery slope is such because you poured the oil yourself. So the Darwin Award is all yours my friend. Good night.


Re: JosephGeorge,

Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. As far as I know there weren't very many hand grenades around in England's Victorian days and no high lander would have stooped with his gout ridden blue blood toes to play anything like horse shoes. Yet Darwin knocked their blooming socks off with a simple common sense explanation of how things came about to be what they were then and some still are today.

Alas though here we are hundreds of years later no more capable of solving a few basic social problems that plague our society while withering the same kind of snarky, quasi-pious indignities of nation's elitist self proclaimed dynasties. Almost identical to Darwin's time common sense is limited and God rarely enters into the fray.

I don't believe that you went to bed right away. If you did then I accept your concession.

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