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Guide for newcomers to the region

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Few places in America have grown more over the past 15 years than the Fredericksburg region.

In the 1990s, a whopping 23 people a day, on average, moved into the area. The growth has continued this decade.

Newcomers face the tedious chore of figuring out how to settle in, legally and practically. They have phones to hook up, trash to dispose of and cars to register.

This guide is by no means all-inclusive, but it is meant to help new residents cross some basic chores off their to-do lists.

Driving

To drive legally in Virginia, you must get a Virginia driver’s license within 60 days of moving to the state (which, newcomers should note, is actually a commonwealth).

Two proofs of identity, one proof of Virginia residency, proof of legal presence and proof of your complete Social Security number (if you have been issued one) are required. A birth certificate, passport, resident alien card or other document is needed to prove you’re in the country legally.

For more information about acceptable documentation, see the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, dmv.state.va.us.

One last word about getting a Virginia license: Be prepared to take a vision test.

Your car, like you, needs some Virginia credentials. You’ve got 30 days to get them. Here’s what you have to do:

  • Title your vehicle in Virginia.

  • Meet Virginia’s minimum car insurance requirements, which are $25,000 for injury or death of one person; $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people; and $20,000 for property damaged. If you can’t get insurance, you must pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee.

  • Pass a vehicle-safety inspection and put a sticker on your windshield proving it. The inspection can be done for $15 ($5 for motorcycles) at many auto-repair shops. Look for car dealerships or service stations with a white poster out front with an official inspection station state seal on it.

  • If you live in Stafford County, your car also must pass an emissions test—unless you have a valid emissions certificate from one of several other states (listed on the DMV Web site).

    Emissions testing is not required of certain vehicles, such as motorcycles and registered antique vehicles. The test costs up to $28. For more information and the location of emissions inspection stations, contact the Department of Environmental Quality at 800/275-3844, or check its Web site at deq.virginia.gov.

  • Register your vehicle and get Virginia license plates at a DMV center. You can register your vehicle only after it passes a safety inspection and after you have insured and titled it.

  • Get a local vehicle decal from your county, town or city treasurer or commissioner of revenue. Note: Virginia has independent cities, such as Fredericksburg, that govern themselves and are not part of the surrounding counties.

    Phone numbers for local treasurers and other government officials are listed elsewhere in this Guide to Living section.

    One last thing drivers should know, especially speedy ones: Radar detectors are illegal in Virginia.

    For detailed information on becoming a legal driver, check out the DMV newcomers guide online at dmv.state.va.us/web doc/moving/newva.asp.

    Voting

    You can register to vote at the DMV office when you get your driver’s license (as long as you’ll be 18 by the next general election). Or, you can visit your local registrar.

    Voter registration forms also are available at public librar-ies, armed-forces recruitment centers and some state government offices.

    Registrars’ phone numbers are listed elsewhere in this section. For more information about registering to vote, call the State Board of Elections at 800/552-9745 or go online to sbe.virginia.gov.

    Pet licenses

    If you brought Fido with you to the Fredericksburg area, make sure he’s legal. Dog licenses and proof of rabies vaccination are required for dogs 4 months and older in Fredericksburg and all counties. State law requires cats 4 months and older to be vaccinated as well, but only some localities require cats to be licensed.

    Dog licenses are available from your local treasurer. And if your pet is normally found only in a zoo, check with your local animal-control office to see if it’s legal to own.

    Trash pickup

    The city of Fredericksburg provides trash and recycling pickup for its residents for a fee. So does the town of Bowling Green. In Colonial Beach, the town also picks up trash—but not recycling—and the cost is covered by local taxes.

    In the counties, residents are responsible for getting rid of their own garbage, either by paying a private company or hauling it to a landfill or drop-off site.

    For more information about trash pickup and recycling, see the local government snapshots, or call your local government administration office.

    Employment offices

    The phone book has a long list of private employment agencies, and the Virginia Employment Commission has two offices in the Fredericksburg area. One is in Fredericksburg at 3501 Lafayette Blvd. (540/898-3806). The other is at 529 Meadowbrook Shopping Center in Culpeper (540/829-7430).

    You can also search VEC job listings online at vaemploy .com.

    Cable TV

    The two major cable pro-viders in the Fredericksburg area are Adelphia and Cox Communications. Adelphia has local offices at 10841 Houser Drive in Fredericksburg and at 1128 Garrisonville Road in Stafford. Call Adephia at 888/683-1000, or go online to adelphia.com. Cox has a local office at 1310 Belman Road in Fredericksburg (540/373-6343).

    Other providers, including Charter Communications (804/633-9511 or 804/224-7101), are listed in the phone book.

    ISPs

    A guide to local and national Internet Service Providers is on the Web site of the Fredericksburg Personal Computer Users Group (540/373-7929) at fpcug.org. The site also has links to other Internet provider lists.

    Phone, utilities

    Verizon Communications is the leading phone-service provider in the Fredericksburg area. See the utilities list on this page for detailed information about numbers to call for phone service.

    Several local companies provide gas and electricity. The utilities list tells how to reach them and which counties they serve.

    Post offices

    The main Fredericksburg office, 600 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg (540/361-4235), is open for service 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Saturday. The lobby is open 24 hours a day to allow access to post office boxes and stamp machines.

    The main Spotsylvania office, 7420 Brock Road (540/582-6773), is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday.

    The main Stafford office, 2650 Jefferson Davis Highway (540/659-7095), is open 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday.

    The region also has many smaller post offices. You can find them in your phone book or by searching the U.S. Postal Service Web site at usps.com.

    Newspaper

    The Free Lance–Star is the Fredericksburg area’s local daily newspaper.

    You can subscribe by calling 540/374-5002 or 800/877-0500, ext. 5540, from 5:30 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m.–11 a.m. weekends and 6 a.m.–10 a.m. on holidays.

    You can also subscribe online at fredericksburg.com.

    The newspaper’s main office is at 616 Amelia St. in Fredericksburg.





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