Stories for April 2012

Stories for April 2012


Friday, April 27

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Area Welcomes Discovery

A famed pace Shuttle finds home in Chantilly.

The Washington area kept its eyes to the sky on Tuesday morning April 17, for a special over-flight by the Space Shuttle Discovery docked to its 747 carrier aircraft. The Discovery is moving to its new home at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. The Discovery has flown 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, and was the longest-serving orbiter in NASA’s shuttle program.

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Historic Huntley To Open at Last

Hybla Valley villa to become Fairfax County’s newest public park next month.

After decades of waiting, Historic Huntley will finally open its doors to the public next month. Officials with the Fairfax County Park Authority are planning a May 19 launch, a long-awaited opening for a historic property built in the 1820s by Alexandria Mayor Thomson Mason. The old house has been boarded up since being purchased by the Fairfax County Park Authority in 1989, when county leaders set out to restore the villa overlooking Hybla Valley. Since then, county voters have approved two bond referendum ballot items worth $3 million.

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Debutante Ball at West Potomac High School

On Saturday, April 21, the first Power of Pink Debutante Ball was held in the Gunston Gym at West Potomac High School. The Power of Pink is a young ladies mentoring program.

Opinion: Poetry Submissions

The following poems, submitted because April is National Poetry Month, are from Mount Vernon resident John J. Finerty.

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On Their Way to Iowa

Stratford Landing Elementary School’s 5th grade Odyssey of the Mind team, coached by Terri Bell, has qualified to go to the World Finals in Ames, Iowa. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving competition for students ages Kindergarten through college. The team worked on their problem in the category of Weird Science. They came in first in their division at the regional competition, which was held at West Potomac High School, and also came in first at the state finals in Newport News on April 14. The team was also the only team, out of 108 competing at the state level, that was given the Ranatra Fusca award, which is presented to a team that demonstrates exceptional creativity at the competition.

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Fort Hunt Softball Volunteers Honored

More than 450 attend opening ceremonies.

The Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association (FHYAA) Girls Softball Program held its opening day ceremonies on Sunday, April 16 at Walt Whitman softball fields. More than 450 players, coaches and family members attended the event. FHYAA has 154 girls signed up to play softball this season in three different leagues: U9, U12 and U18.

Thursday, April 26

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Join in Mount Vernon CROP Walk

“Because they walk, we walk” is the theme of the 32nd annual Church World Services CROP Hunger Walk on May 6. Sponsored by area churches through Ventures in Community (VIC) and starting at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, 8531 Riverside Road, Alexandria, the CROP Walk winds through the local community for 1.5 miles. Registration begins at 12:30 at St. Aidan’s, and the Walk begins at 1:30.

Commentary: New State Budget Misses the Mark

I voted against the final state budget last week because it fails to address our needs and reflects badly-skewed priorities. It was an eventful two days in Richmond.

Opinion: Will Virginia’s Health Care Improve Without Better Data?

The answer is “no.” The Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council (created by Governor McDonnell) stated the case for change in its 2010 report. “Virginia’s overall quality of care is average, with strengths in cardiac care, hospital care generally, and home health. Weaknesses in Virginia’s quality rankings include nursing home care, diabetes care, and maternal and child health. Specifically, Virginia ranks 41st in the nation in breast cancer death rates, and 35th in infant mortality. None of these statistics measure up to Virginia ranking sixth, nationwide, in median family income.”

Letter: Adverse Actions Have Consequences

To the Editor: Martin Tillett understandably wants to avoid having the downfall of the proposed Kings Crossing Town Center as his legacy in the civic arena. In prior letters to the Gazette, I've explained the role the Spring Bank Community Association (SBCA) played, under the leadership of Mr. Tillett and SBCA President David Dale in the demise of Kings Crossing (see my letter in the August 13, 2009 Gazette) and the resulting development of a Wal-Mart store on the property.

Letter: A Meeting Without Answers

To the Editor: Sunday April 22, at St. Stephens UMC in Burke, Fairfax County officials and elected supervisors (including Board Chair Sharon Bulova) met with over 200 volunteers from 36 church-based hypothermia shelters to ease our anxieties. We have heard rumor that the fire marshal has determined that 18 of these churches will not be able to open and operate their “hypothermia” ministry next year as they had in the past. This puts the hundreds of homeless individuals who use these facilities at risk of frostbite, hypothermia and death.

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'Witness for the Prosecution' Opens at LTA

It's 1954 and Leonard Vole stands accused of the murder of a rich elderly woman whom he befriended. His wife's testimony could save him until she suddenly becomes a “Witness for the Prosecution” in the Agatha Christie thriller now playing at The Little Theatre of Alexandria.

Calendar for April 25

E-mail announcements to the Gazette, Photos and artwork are encouraged. Deadline is Thursday at noon for the following week's paper. Call Steve Hibbard at 703-778-9412 with questions.

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Building Upon Layers Of History

From Native American settlements to gentrified neighborhoods.

If you stand on the roof of a high rise apartment build in North Alexandria, you can get a sense of the extraordinary flatness of the Potomac Yard. You can see the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome across a skyline unbroken by anything but the occasional lifting off of a plane from Ronald Reagan Airport. To the left are the high rise buildings of Crystal City, but they are manmade break in the flat land which runs from the Potomac River south to below Old Town before a ridge of any significant height changes the contour of the country side.

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'God of Carnage' at Signature Theatre

It begins innocently enough: Two New York couples oozing affected politeness meet to discuss a playground scuffle between their sons. Painstakingly attentive to social niceties, they hope to talk things over in a calm, mature and rational way.

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And Then there Was One

'Someone Who'll Watch Over Me' opens at Port City Playhouse.

It's been more than a quarter of a century since Irishman Brian Keenan, Englishman John McCarthy and American Terry Anderson were taken hostage in Beirut and held in a series of desolate cells throughout the city. Keenan was released after more than four years in captivity and went on to pen “An Evil Cradling,” a chilling account of his experience.


spring blooming on the walls of the Athenaeum

Taylor Run

Nancy A. Gibbs, who formerly lived in our neighborhood on W. Taylor Run, has produced a new hit in New York.

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The Brainy Bunch

Alexandria teams head to national trivia championships.

Which U.S. president took early morning swims in the Potomac River? What were “poulaines” used to indicate in medieval Europe? What are the 10 least grossing Eddie Murphy movies?

Letter: Another Done Deal

It is no surprise to the residents of the Beauregard section of the West End that the Mayor/council and city staff are once again pulling another “done deal” in our neighborhood and that the push for a major redevelopment in this area is a result of the BRAC-133 and loss of property tax dollars.

Letter: City Can’t Subsidize Rents

There have been recent discussions in Alexandria about whether the city should purchase apartment complexes and convert them to subsidized affordable housing units.

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Applause in the Form of $1,500

First Night donates to school music programs.

First Night Alexandria's board of directors voted unanimously April 19 to make monetary contributions to the music programs at T.C. Williams High School and George Washington and Francis Hammond Middle Schools.

Column: Keeping a Promise

The mission of Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is to provide the environment, resources, and commitment to ensure that each and every student succeeds — academically, emotionally, physically, and socially.

State Award for Sherman

Dr. Morton Sherman, superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools, is the recipient of the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals 2012 Pathfinder Award.

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Mount Vernon Boys’ Soccer Remains Undefeated

Castellon’s two second-half goals lift Majors past Stuart.

The Mount Vernon boys' soccer team defeated Stuart 3-1 on April 21 to remain undefeated.

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Sports Briefs: Mount Vernon Crew Wins 3 Golds

The Mount Vernon crew team competed in the Baltimore Invitational Regatta on Saturday, April 14. The men’s novice 8, women’s lightweight 8 and women’s novice 4 all earned gold medals for their first-place finishes.

Wednesday, April 25

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment, Home & Garden and Classified ads!

Connection Wins Public Service Award for Homeless Coverage

VPA Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service; plus 44 other awards.

The Connection Newspapers was awarded the Virginia Press Association Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service last Saturday, April 21, "for exhaustive coverage of homelessness in the newspaper's circulation area."

Column: Really?

Having recently upgraded my cell phone, I have finally, due to its larger keys and simplified data-entry process, learned how to enter “contacts” and their phone numbers as well as select some of these key contacts for speed-dialing.

Tuesday, April 24

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Supervisors Endorse Advertised Budget

Highlights include restored funding for human services, libraries, employee pay.

"Morning has broken, like the first morning…" Cat Stevens sang it in his 1971 hit, and Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova used it to sum up the board’s 8-2 vote, endorsing the advertised 2013 budget during the April 24 budget session.

Friday, April 20

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment, Home and Garden and classified ads!

Thursday, April 19

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Gunston Hall Museum Director Ousted by Regents After Year of Controversy

David Reese is out; Mark Whatford to serve as acting director.

After surviving more than a year of calls for his resignation, Gunston Hall museum director has been removed as head of the historic house site.

New Leadership At Gunston Hall

Museum director ousted by regents after year of controversy.

After surviving more than a year of calls for his resignation, Gunston Hall museum director has been removed as head of the historic house site. In a meeting last week, the Board of Regents voted to replace David Reese, effective immediately. Mark Whatford, a senior staff member, will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is hired. The decision comes after harsh criticism of financial mismanagement and unprofessional behavior.

Calendar for April 19

E-mail announcements to the Gazette, Photos and artwork are encouraged. Deadline is Thursday at noon for the following week's paper. Call Steve Hibbard at 703-778-9412 with questions.

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Educator: Have Students Help Shape Curriculum

Progressive educator Alfie Kohn challenged parents and teachers to go beyond comfort zones at the Burgundy Farm Country Day School Eric Sevareid Forum held April 4. “Progressive education is scary because it is unfamiliar,” said Kohn. “Progressive education has a better claim to traditional education in fact, standardized testing does not go back that far.”

Letter: True Community Business in Alexandria

I am writing to thank the Harvey family for everything they've done in the 20 years or so that we've lived in the Fort Hunt area, fully aware that they had done the same things for years before we arrived. The service provided at Hollin Hall Automotive has been fantastic over the years, and the contributions the Harvey family has made to the local Little League and other organizations have helped make this a great community. When we moved to this area, the Hollin Hall shopping center looked a bit drab, but then we went through the doors and met the people at Village Hardware, Safeway, Via Veneto, the Variety Store, etc., and we learned to love the place. Village Hardware, in particular, has made major contributions to local organizations; I have personally spread much of the free Turfus they have provided to the Ft. Hunt Little League.

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Fort Hunt Little League Baseball Hosts Opening Day

On Saturday morning 492 players from 47 team paraded onto the Red Steven Field at Carl Sandburg School for the Fort Hunt Little League Baseball Opening Day ceremony. The president of Fort Hunt Little League Paul Murphy introduced the teams as they lined up at the baseline.

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49 Shopping Carts Later …

Cleanup was well underway on Saturday morning, April 14 at the tributaries of Little Hunting Creek off Buckman Road. Forty-nine shopping carts, 245-plus bags of trash, and 27 tires were collected at 10 sites from the mouth of Little Hunting Creek upstream nearly to Huntley Meadows. Fairfax County together with the Alice Ferguson Foundation collaborated in the clean-up effort. Little Hunting Creek covers over nine acres in Fairfax County and is in the watershed of the Potomac River. The Alice Ferguson Foundation established in 1989 organized watershed cleanup activities at 600 sites in five states on Saturday.

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Hollin Hills Hosts 2012 House & Garden Tour

Hollin Hills, the mid-century modern neighborhood in Alexandria, hosts its next House & Garden Tour on Saturday, April 28, from noon to 6 p.m.

Chamber to Honor First Responders with Valor Awards April 26

There was no time for careful deliberation. The water was swiftly rising as an elderly driver was trapped inside a submerged vehicle at the intersection of Edsall Road and Winter View Drive during the flash flooding that devastated the region on Sept. 8, 2011. Unequipped for swift water rescue, Lt. Patrick Lyon and firefighters Michael Chandler, Louis Simpson and Joseph Porcelli from Ladder Truck 208 quickly assessed the situation.

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Helping Rebuilding Together Alexandria

Twenty-one volunteers from Safeway spent Thursday, April 12 constructing an outside porch and wheel chair ramp for John Patterson, a double amputee veteran of the Vietnam War. The volunteers also repaired broken faucets, painted, repaired a fence and pergola and planted a summer garden. Katherine Dixon, executive director of Rebuilding Together Alexandria said, “In addition to the $20,000 donation from Safeway, we leveraged a significant amount of volunteer help, discounted materials, and professional labor.”

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SCAN Names 2012 Ally in Prevention Awardees

SCAN named Erick T. King, co-founder of the Capital Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP); Valerie Cuffee, who recently retired as division chief of Arlington County's Child & Family Services Division; and the late Cynthia Hull, former executive director of United Community Ministries, as the 2012 Allies in Prevention for Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, respectively. The award was given at SCAN's 10th Annual Allies in Prevention Awards Luncheon.

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"Flight 905 Heavy"

The Space Shuttle Discovery, atop its Boeing 747 carrier, flies over Windmill Hill Park on Tuesday, April 17. The shuttle will become part of the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. The flight was referred to as “flight 905 heavy” on the air traffic control channel.

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Culinary Classes for Children

Little gourmands cook up fun in the kitchen.

"If you lick your hands you have to wash them," said instructor Beth Bigler as she teaches a class of kindergartens students how to make vegetable pizzas. "Are these pickles?" asks a 6-year-old student as she clutches a dark-green, cylindrical vegetable in her tiny fingers.

Nancy Larsen Turner Dies

Nancy Larsen Turner, 83, formerly of Alexandria, died on March 2, 2012 at her home in Boonton, N.J. Born in Ogden, Utah, in 1928, she spent her childhood in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, where her father worked for the Park Service.

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Watershed Cleanup in Alexandria

Volunteers collected hundreds of pounds of trash from Four Mile Run Park in Alexandria on Saturday, April 14. The cleanup was organized by Alexandria’s Transportation and Environmental Services, Office of Environmental Quality and Solid Waste Division in conjunction with the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The foundation, established in 1989, organized watershed cleanup activities at 600 sites in five states on Saturday.

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Baseball Legend Frank Howard Visits Sportsman's Club

He took the field with the likes of Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Ray Campanella. But Frank Howard didn't just play with baseball's finest, he was one of them, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors in 1960 and appearing in four All Star games for the American League from 1968 to 1971. On April 17, the former Washington Senator and Los Angeles Dodger spoke at the Alexandria Sportsman's Club and recounted some of the most memorable moments of his career.

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No Butts About It: Ramparts Shifts to “No Smoking” Policy

The gang of regulars at Ramparts had a friendly wager going: How long would it take Butch Shunk to return after his vow to never again set foot in the popular Alexandria watering hole after its sudden shift to a no smoking policy on Easter Sunday? Some said three months but in the end it only took three days for the loyal customer to be back in his customary place at the end of the bar.

Alarm Over Fire Code at Shelters

Fairfax County officials respond to concerns about fire code violations at local shelters.

Spring fever hit the region early this year. Last week’s record-high temperatures had residents flocking outdoors to play, bike, jog and picnic.

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Community Lodgings Celebrates 25 Years, Raises $40,000

More than 170 people turned out April 15 for the 7th annual “Spring Forward to Union Street,” a fundraiser to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Community Lodgings that also recognized program participant Harriet Owusu for her exceptional strides in attaining self-sufficiency.

Nancy Larsen Turner Dies

Nancy Larsen Turner, 83, formerly of Alexandria, died on March 2, 2012 at her home in Boonton, N.J. Born in Ogden, Utah, in 1928, she spent her childhood in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, where her father worked for the Park Service. She married Calhoun Harris Turner in South Carolina in 1956. After his death in 1970, she lived and worked throughout the United States and in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Column: Seminary Valley

The West End is about to receive a great upgrade with the installation of a new playing field at Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

Letter: Expertise Needed

Prior to the April 10 meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS), the meeting agenda listed an agenda item beginning on page 303 concerning a BOS vote to approve or turn down a new charter for the County's Tree Commission.

Letter: True Community Business

I am writing to thank the Harvey family for everything they've done in the 20 years or so that we've lived in the Fort Hunt area, fully aware that they had done the same things for years before we arrived.

Winifred Reilly Tracy

Winifred Reilly Tracy died on April 11, at her home in Alexandria, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Letter: Neighbor Mourned

My neighbor and friend, Gen. William H. Montcrief, Jr, passed this week at 90 years old.

Letter: Just the Facts

ACPS facts ... no politics, nothing personal, no rhetoric:

Letter: A Perfect Symphony

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) marathon meeting on April 12 was a textbook perfect picture of collaborative decision-making at its best — equitable and obliging.

Letter: Too Late

I cannot understand why Mayor Euille thinks that VDOT should give Hunting Towers to the City of Alexandria.

Letter: Sound of Change

If the explosive eruption of Krakotoa in 1883 was a “sound heard ‘round the world,” the cheering you heard on Friday morning at 1 a.m., after the Board of Zoning Appeals reversed a City decision that prevented citizens from protesting a major waterfront zoning decision last January was heard all over Alexandria.

Letter: Smart Growth For Alexandria

Many Alexandrians are worried that more development inevitably means more traffic and a less desirable city.

Letter: How To Save Affordable Units

Folks need to understand a few things about Hunting Towers: * First, VDOT abused its acquisition (eminent domain) authority when it took all three towers when it only needed one and a few out buildings for the Wilson Bridge project;

Letter: Shortchanging Schoolchildren

How many more times do we have to read about the poorly performing schools twinned with internal issues?

Letter: Shortchanging Schoolchildren

How many more times do we have to read about the poorly performing schools twinned with internal issues?

New Fleet of Hybrid Trolleys on Its Way

Alexandria’s free King Street trolley service gets clean and green with the launch of an all-new fleet of hybrid trolleys on April 22.

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Zdebski’s 5 Goals Lift West Potomac Girls’ Lax to Win

Wolverines start season 6-0, including pair of Patriot District victories.

After leading the West Potomac girls’ lacrosse team to a victory against Lee on April 13, junior midfielder Karley Zdebski showed shyness, declining a postgame interview. Unfortunately for the Lancers, Zdebski wasn’t nearly as passive during the game.

Wednesday, April 18

Sports Briefs: Mount Vernon Boys’ Soccer Remains Undefeated

The Mount Vernon boys’ soccer team defeated Falls Church 5-2 on April 16 and Robinson 2-1 on April 13 to improve to 5-0-2.

Pleading for Restoring Funding for Human Services

Residents, agencies testify to need for community services.

After three years of deep budget cuts and declining revenue, Fairfax County is showing signs of fiscal equilibrium as property values and revenues begin a slow uphill climb.

Addressing ‘College Drinking Culture’

The Perils of the College Drinking Culture" forums continue through May.

It’s college decision time for Fairfax County seniors, and college-bound students and their parents are encouraged to attend an upcoming program that deals with binge drinking on college campuses. "The Perils of the College Drinking Culture" will be presented by the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Police Department, in April and May at locations across the county.

Tuesday, April 17

Column: “Meagulpa”

As a veteran of the chemo wars, I should have been better prepared mentally for the food/taste challenges often caused by the infusion of such cancer-fighting chemicals, but I wasn’t.

Friday, April 13

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Mount Vernon Real Estate: Top Sales in February 2012

Mount Vernon Real Estate: Top Sales in February 2012

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Fairfax County Real Estate: Top Sales by Town in February 2012

Fairfax County Real Estate: Top Sales by Town in February 2012

Thursday, April 12

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Easter Eggstravaganza at Gum Springs

The staff at the Gum Springs Community Center held an Easter Eggstravaganza on Saturday, April 7. More than 60 children and their parents participated in the afternoon events. Easter baskets were filled with grass, goodie bags with treats were distributed, lunch was served in the cafeteria and crafts followed. The children made Easter bunny masks and jeweled eggs and colored in drawing sheets before going into the gym for a few games. At 3 p.m., the children paraded outside for an Easter Egg Hunt in the field.

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State and Local Leaders Clash Over Responsibility of Secondary Roads

State responsibility of secondary roads dates to Great Depression.

Who is responsible for fixing potholes on Fairfax County roads? State leaders in Richmond want to hand over control to transportation officials at the Fairfax County Government Center. But Chairwoman Sharon Bulova is joining with leaders in Loudoun County and Prince William County to oppose the move.

At the Library

Thursday/April 12 AARP Tax Assistance. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sherwood Regional Library, 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria. Free tax assistance. Preference given to older adults. Adults. 703-765-3645.

Letter: Full Time Attention

To the Editor: Virginia House of Delegates Member David Englin (D-45) has announced that he was unfaithful to his wife. As a result, he has stated that he will not run for reelection to his delegate seat so that he can take the time to repair his marriage. The announcement is noteworthy because the next election for his delegate seat does not occur until November 2013, 19 months from now. The announcement begs the question: If Delegate Englin needs to refrain from running for reelection in order to repair his marriage, why has he decided to hold on to his delegate seat until the end of 2013?

Hollin Hills Tour Highlights Modern Style

The Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour will be held Saturday, April 28 from noon to 6 p.m. The homes were designed by architect Charles Goodman and are noted for their expanses of glass and integration with their wooded an hilly environment. The theme of the tour is: “Modern: Then + Now” and will include homes with the original footprint and those that have had additions designed which are compatible with the Modern style.

Gala To Support New Hope Housing

New Hope Housing’s Gala 2012 fundraiser will take place on Saturday, April 21 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Waterford Reception in Springfield. The evening’s program will unfold “On the Boardwalk,” with attendees invited to come in sea-side inspired dressy casual. A reception and silent auction will kick off festivities, followed by dinner, a live auction, and dancing.

Chamber Hosts Workshop on Contracting

Learn about opportunities to contract with the IRS and the GSA with “Contacts-for-Contracts” hosted by the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. Jacob “Jake” Hansen, director of procurement for the Internal Revenue Services, and Damon McClure, deputy director for Center IT Schedule Operations Integrated Technology Service, Federal Acquisitions for GSA Schedule will be the featured speakers on Thursday, April 19, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., at the Belle Haven Country Club, 6023 Fort Hunt Road. Meet the decision makers and learn what is needed to stay competitive in today’s contracting environment. Early bird cost is $25 for reservations by April 13, and then $35. Contact the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce at 703-360-6925 or make reservations online at

Help Cleanup Little Hunting Creek

On Saturday, April 14, at noon, Del. Scott Surovell and Supervisor Jeff McKay will host a creek cleanup for Little Hunting Creek in coordination with the Friends of Little Hunting Creek and the Alice Ferguson Foundation Potomac River Cleanup.

Mount Vernon Crime Report April 11

Activities reported by the Mount Vernon police department through April 6.

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Coffman, 64, To Run His 35th Boston Marathon

Sixty-four years old, he’s lean and light on his feet, his hair thick and white, and he glows with health and resilient cheerfulness.

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Alexandria on Tour During Garden Week April 21

Information Centers and Restroom Facilities: Alexandria Visitors Center — The Ramsey House, 221 King street in Alexandria. Call 703-746-3301.

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“Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You”

A riveting saga of survival at MetroStage.

He was just 4 years old when his father hurriedly whisked him away one dark, moonless night into the unknown. For Jay Alvarez, the journey was profound and one he shares in a riveting performance of “Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You,” a one-man show written and performed by Alvarez chronicling his family's flight from Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1964.

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Alexandria Woman Wins $250,000

Eckley Finn of Alexandria was with her husband when they discovered she’d won $250,000 in Mega Millions.

Irene R. Jones Dies

Irene Reid Jones, 89 of Martinsville, Va., formerly of Warrenton, died on April 1, 2012, at Landmark Center, Stuart. She was born on Aug. 14, 1922 in Fauquier County, Va., a daughter of the late Eppa Clark Reid and Maude Lillian Moffett Reid; predeceased by her daughter, Delores M. Jones; five brothers and three sisters.

Richard Sandford Laurent Dies

Richard Sandford Laurent, 59, of Alexandria, died peacefully on April 7 at the Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center after a brief illness.

Alexandria Calendar April 11

E-mail announcements to the Gazette, Photos and artwork are encouraged. Deadline is Thursday at noon for the following week's paper. Call Steve Hibbard at 703-778-9412 with questions.

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In Support of Stratford Hall

Members and friends of the Alexandria Committee of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association gathered March 8 at the residence of Latane and Patricia Montague on Prince Street for an evening celebration, rasing funds for Stratford Hall, home of the Lees of Virginia and birthplace of Robert E. Lee.

Interest in Budget Slows as Economy Picks Up

Employee compensation, human service funding compete for attention.

Rising property values, a relatively low unemployment rate, and the lack of hot-button issues — such as full-day kindergarten — have reduced public involvement in Fairfax County’s proposed $6.7 billion budget compared to recent years, according to county leaders.

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Design with Children in Mind

BOWA Builders share tips for design that works for the whole family.

Whether it’s a closet, the kitchen or a study area, there are numerous ways to incorporate child-friendly design into any space, and children today are becoming more and more involved in the process. Even if the child is toddler-aged, simple tasks, such as picking colors, themes or bedding, can help them feel that they are part of the process.

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From Home to Dream Home: Split Foyer to French Colonial

Sun Design Remodeling’s design solution for Mulligan home tops category in “Contractor of the Year” Awards.

Tastes change; so, too, an owner’s requirements of their home. In the early 1960s, for instance, no floor plan concept seemed better suited to the demands of modern life than the split level — which deployed half-levels to apportion interior space into sleeping zones, family gathering rooms and service areas.

Home Work

‘Why Is My Home Rotting Away?’

"Mike, why is my house rotting away!?" This is the kind of question brimming with alarm and horror that builders and remodelers often hear. "How old is your house?" I asked. "It’s only 15 years old." "Ray, your house is not rotting away, but the skin of your house might be."

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Ribbon Cutting at New Hospital

The new IAH Mark Center had an official ribbon-cuttling ceremony on Wednesday, April 4.

TRCA Spring Meeting and Elections

The Taylor Run Citizens Association will host its annual Spring Meeting on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.


Great Egrets winter in Mexico and South America and breed along the shore, passing through this area in migration.

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Old Town History: Bank of Alexandria

A fairly nondescript building sits on southeast corner of North Fairfax and Cameron Streets. It’s a bit taller than the others nearby, and forms a quiet bookend for the distinctive Carlyle House next door. It’s anonymity, however, belies its rich history.

Letter: Value of an Ombudsman

Recently a new group, Democrats for a Better Alexandria, has suggested that the City needs an Ombudsman (or Ombudswoman). According to Wikipedia, an Ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between government, and constituents, representing the broad scope of constituent interests.

Letter: Don’t Encourage ‘Magic Bullets’

As a desperate high school student just sliding by, I too would hope for a magic bullet cram course to improve my standardized test scores and chances of getting into college.

Letter: Fixing Flaws, Building on Successes

The following open letter is addressed to school staff and residents.

Letter: Consider Children’s Safety

The following letter was sent to the City Council and School Board.

Letter: Clear Cutting Of Trees

This morning I watched as contractors for WMATA cut down tree after tree after tree along the property line adjacent to my apartment complex.

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Letter: Another Step for Smoke-Free City

The Mayor and City Council are to be congratulated for steps they have recently taken to address what Surgeon Generals of the U.S. have called the two leading causes of preventable death and disease in America: tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. In January, the City Council, by a vote of 5 to 1, authorized the placement of signs discouraging smoking in all City-owned parks, playgrounds and bus shelters.

Letter: Hybrid School Board?

That in the past few months there have been issues of extraordinary concern and increasing public outrage over ACPS is well-understood.

Letter: Pay More Attention To City Schools

Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. Unfortunately, for Alexandria City Public Schools, too few people have pulled the alarm.

Letter: GW Memorial Parkway Metro?

Although officially it is referred to as the Potomac Yard Metro, if the option to move the tracks closer to the GW Memorial Parkway is used, it creates a construction zone on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and furthermore creates a right-in right-out for the trucks and mechanical equipment to use.

Letter: Time To Step Down?

The following letter is addressed to Dr. Morton Sherman, Superintendent of Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools.

Letter: Best Way To Spend $7 Million?

The mayor and the City Council have proven again that they do not represent their Alexandrian citizens.

Letter: Support Cleaner Environment

As a 14-year-old boy growing up in Virginia, I am so happy that President Obama has taken the time to create a plan to clean bodies of water and major rivers of the pollutant mercury.

Letter: Re-evaluate Public Amenities

The recently released Beauregard Small Area Plan Draft includes a complicated and risky provision that earmarks the increase in property tax revenue generated in the plan area into a separate fund.

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City Wins Technology Solutions Award

PTI lauds email migration to cloud services.

The City of Alexandria, the first jurisdiction in the state to transition from on-premise enterprise messaging to cloud services, has been awarded the Technology Solutions Award for 2011-2012 by the Public Technology Institute.

Historical Society To Honor Madison, Lee

The Alexandria Historical Society has selected local historian Robert L. Madison and journalist Michael Lee Pope as winners of Special Alexandria History Awards for 2012.

Keep Pets Out of Hot Vehicles

As the region transitions into spring and the warm weather that accompanies it, Alexandria’s animal control officers will be enforcing the new ordinance passed in November 2011 prohibiting the confinement of animals in vehicles when the outside temperature is at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Firefighters Respond to House Fire in Alexandria

On Sunday, April 8, at approximately 10:15 p.m., the Alexandria Fire Department assisted by the Arlington County and Fairfax County Fire Departments responded to a reported house fire at 1147 Palmer Place in Alexandria.

City Council To Hold Hearing on Tax Rates

The Alexandria City Council will hold a public hearing on the 2012 Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Rates on Saturday, April 14, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in City Council Chambers, Room 2400 (2nd Floor) at Alexandria City Hall, 301 King St. On March 13, the Alexandria City Council voted 5-2 to authorized advertising a maximum possible real residential property tax increase to $1.008 per $100 assessed value, an increase of one cent.

Police Investigate Attempted Abduction

Alexandria Police are investigating an attempted abduction and assault that occurred in the 2200 block of Mill Road. Around 5:30 P.M. on Tuesday, April 10, two females were grabbed by a man and pulled into a vacant building.

New Board Members at Volunteer Alexandria

Seven new members have been elected to Volunteer Alexandria’s Board of Directors.

Notice of Hearing

A criminal hearing will be held in Alexandria General District Court on Thursday, April 19, 2012, located on the second floor of 520 King Street, Alexandria, VA, on the following: Case GC12-1410.

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Ireton Grad Rodriguez Earns Prestigious Sports Award

Football star served as Army Football team captain last fall.

Andrew Rodriguez, a 2008 graduate of Bishop Ireton High (Alexandria) and a member of the Army football team, was awarded the 2011 James E. Sullivan Award by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) at the prestigious New York Athletic Club on March 20.

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WP Boys’ Soccer Falls Victim to Nimiry’s Hat Trick

Wolverines drop Patriot District opener against T.C. Williams.

Playing for the first time in 18 days, West Potomac dropped to 2-3 with its third straight defeat.

Wednesday, April 11

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment and Classified Ads!

Column: Look What I Saw, Really

A male patient sitting directly across from me being infused with his unique chemotherapy cocktail, a bit too far for a conversation, but certainly close enough for a knowing/empathetic glance.

Tuesday, April 10

Editorial: On Funding the Silver Line

Commonwealth will collect the dividends, but refuses to invest; Northern Virginia pays.

Northern Virginia localities should together commission a study now to determine how much growth is stimulated by the opening of the Metro stations in Tysons and along the toll road out to Dulles, how many new jobs created, quantify how much that growth leads to increased income and sales tax, and how much revenue (taxes) would get shipped off to Commonwealth coffers.

Friday, April 6

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Spring Break Camp at Children’s Theatre

The Heroes were on stage competing against the Villains in a rehearsal of “Family” Feud while across the hall a sequel to the “Gingerbread Boy,” the “Gingerbread Girl” was in early stages at Mount Vernon Community Children's Theatre’s Spring Break Camp. MVCCT also offers summer camp programs for youth and teens. For more information visit

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Federal Prosecutors Uncover Schoolyard Prostitution Ring in Suburban Fairfax County

U.S. Attorney: Underground Gangster Crips led prostitution ring that spanned Northern Virginia.

The high school girls were threatened with violence if they attempted to leave. They were sexually exploited by customers of the sex trafficking operation as well as the men who ran the prostitution ring.

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Firefighters Honored for Huntington Rescue Efforts

The water was swiftly rising as two women were frantically trying to evacuate the Arlington Terrace neighborhood during the flash flooding that devastated the Huntington area on Sept. 8, 2011. As first responders from Penn Daw Fire Station 11 arrived on the scene, they realized that one of the women was eight months pregnant and the other was clinging to her 2-week-old newborn baby.

Mount Vernon Knights of Columbus Scholars

The Mount Vernon Knights of Columbus have selected its Outstanding Young Man and Outstanding Young Women for 2012. They each will receive a $1,250 scholarship grant.

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Jerome Nathan Sonosky Dies

Jerome (“Jerry”) Sonosky, a lawyer whose 40-year legal career started in the House of Representatives serving his hometown congressman and concluded as a partner with the law firm of Hogan Lovell (formerly Hogan and Hartson), died March 22, 2012, at Mount Vernon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at the age of 82. He died from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease.

Irene Marie Pippin Dies

Irene Marie Pippin, nee Sangiolo, died in Boston, Mass. on March 25, 2012 after a long illness. She was born on July 7, 1964 in Framingham, Mass. Irene is formerly of Carlisle, Mass. and also lived for 10 years in Alexandria. She most recently resided in Groton, Mass. Irene spent 8 years living in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands from 1968 -1973 and 1981-1984, where she entered high school as a senior and graduated in 1982. While working on Kwajalein she met her future husband David who was working for GTE at that time.

Letter: Choose the Right Path

To the Editor: On March 24, the Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC) held an extremely successful convention at West Springfield High School. With over 1000 attendees, this is the largest convention anyone can recall the Fairfax GOP ever having, and it is a sign of great things to come in 2012 and beyond.

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West Potomac Prepares ‘Seussical the Musical’

The West Potomac Theatre Department, headed by Philip Lee Clark, will present “Seussical the Musical” in the school’s Springbank Auditorium with performances for the public beginning April 25.

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At Regional Science Fair

Megan McKinney, a junior at Mount Vernon High School stands next to her finished project board in the Robinson Secondary School field house just before the start of the 57th Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 16. McKinney compared the rate at which different types of grass absorbed nitrogen. The goal would be to plant grasses that would reduce detrimental runoff into important watersheds.

Mount Vernon Crime Report April 4

Activities reported by the Mt. Vernon police department through March 30.

County Launches Transit Study

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has launched its 2050 Countywide Transit Network Study. This study includes a survey of the public to develop recommendations for where Metrorail should be extended, where streetcars, light-rail or other transit modes are appropriate, and where dedicated lanes that allow buses to move faster could be built. The study will recommend transit improvements in various corridors that work together to improve/facilitate movement throughout the county, as well as how these transit modes can be phased-in and funded over time.

Area Health Students Win State Awards at Conference

Twelve Health and Medical Sciences students from Fairfax County Public Schools won awards at the 32nd annual HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) State Leadership Conference held recently in Williamsburg.

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Bittersweet Wins Eighth Annual Great Rum Punch Challenge

Bittersweet was the big winner with its “Pomander Punch” on March 24 at the Eighth Annual Great Rum Punch Challenge at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, beating out runner-up Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant, the defending champ Dogfish Head, and worthy competitors Bacardi, FireFlies, and RedRocks. This is the third win for Bittersweet, which took top honors in 2007 and 2009.

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Notes from the Artistic Director

Patrons ask how do I come up with a season of plays and musicals, and I always respond that every single show has a different story of how it got to my desk. Favorite actors bring their favorite plays to my attention and if I fall in love with the play, it feels like a match made in heaven. Our reputation for launching new musicals (chamber size musicals-four to six characters, no more than five musicians, unit set) means I get a lot of demo tapes sent in my direction.

Mount Vernon Bulletin Board April 4

Register for Summer Camp MVCCT's Summer Camp. Two-week sessions: July 2 to July 13; July 30 to Aug. 10; Aug. 13 to 24; One week: July 23 to 27. Prices range from $270-$650, discounts for Early Bird, siblings, and all day attendance available. At Heritage Presbyterian Church, 8503 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria. To register for camps, visit

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19-Year-Old Pianist Wins with 103-Year-Old ‘Rach 3’

Min Ji Lee won first prize playing one of the most challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire — Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor.

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Gift Shop Hosts Meet the Artist Exhibit

What do Alexandria Meals on Wheels, Carpenter's Shelter and Christians for Sudan have in common? These three and many others receive financial support from the Historic Christ Church Gift Shop.

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In Support of Child & Family Network Centers

On March 22, the home of designer Sydnye Pettengill served as the backdrop for The Child & Family Network Centers’ benefit kickoff. The event honored CFNC donors, and introduced 2012 Benefit Chair Elizabeth Reynolds Marino. Steering committee members include Lizzie Siegel, Ann Scully, Kim Gess and Lisa Herget. Committee chairs include Twig Murray, Tandy Harrison, Shazalynn Winfrey, and Alex Deringer.

Column: Taylor Run

SHERLOCK TO VANDERBILT Daniel Sherlock has been accepted for the master’s program in special education at Vanderbilt University. Daniel worked for years for the therapeutic recreation program here in Alexandria, as a result of which he developed his interest in the work.

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Column: Seminary Valley

If it is Spring Break, graduation must not be far away. Congratulations are definitely in order for 10 T.C. Williams seniors who started out their ACPS careers at James K. Polk Elementary School as kindergartners. These Owl-Titans are: Michelle Avila, Haley Cooper, Abby Cox, Phillip Espinoza, Tiffani Gibson, Sam Jones, Layla Mustafa, Franz Vosseler, Rebecca Wood-Conover and Scott Young. Well done!

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Old Town History: Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary

Martha Washington was ailing terribly in April 1802. Searching for help in that era of primitive medicine, she sent a man with a note to an apothecary in Alexandria. “Mrs. Washington desires Mr. Stabler will send by the bearer, a quart bottle of his best castor oil, and the bill for it.” Sadly, the treatment did not improve her health and she died the following month.

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Wedding Vendors Gather at Carlyle House

Stacey Hawkins, Annette Miller and Karen Kilday hosted a wedding vendor fair March 24 at the historic Carlyle House in Alexandria. Calling Card Events specializes in small events and programs at historic sites in the local area. Caterers, vacation planners and gift shops staff were on hand to offer information and samples of most of their services. The group is planning two more wedding vendor events at Collingwood on June 16 and July 21.

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‘Banking on Our Future’

Chairman, Founder and CEO of Operation Hope John Hope Bryant gave a special presentation to the afterschool math students at Hammond Middle School on March 29. Starting out with the theme of respect of each other and oneself, Bryant dove into the source of real wealth: that which is within each person. Bryant initiated a program “Banking on Our Future” to foster dignity and hope and teach financial literacy and economic self-sufficiency to low-income communities in the U.S., South Africa and Haiti. For more information on the program visit

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At Regional Housing Expo

The doors at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington opened its doors March 24 to the 2nd annual Northern Virginia Housing Expo. The Expo is sponsored by Fairfax-based nonprofit AHOME in cooperation with the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun, and the Town of Herndon. The fair featured homeownership and rental opportunities and resources throughout Northern Virginia. Free classes included “Are You Ready to Rent?,” “Are You Ready to Buy?,” “The ABCs of Credit and Credit Scores” and “Financing Your Home.”

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‘Hopa Tropa Kukerica!’

The Ambassador Theater presented “Hopa Tropa Kukerica!,” a Bulgarian masquerade with puppetry, song and dance April 1 at the George Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria. The play was conceived and directed by Lilia Slavova with choreographer Ivan Dimitrov, set designer Antonio Petrov, puppet design by Julia Tashev and music arranger Petko Kilov. For more information on upcoming events visit

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Sportsman's Club to Host Frank Howard April 17

Washington baseball legend Frank Howard will be the guest speaker at the April 17 meeting of the Alexandria Sportsman's Club.

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GenOn Donates $25k to the Alexandria Seaport Foundation

Representatives of GenOn gathered Feb. 10 at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation to work side by side with ASF apprentices and mark the donation of $25,000 to the nationally acclaimed nonprofit.

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Helping Inova

The Board of Lady Managers held a fundraiser at The Little Theatre of Alexandria March 13 to raise money to purchase new anesthesia machines for Inova Alexandria Hospital. The new machines are part of the board's latest $500,000 pledge for the hospital. Above, event chair Barbara Brenman, Board president Cynthia Puskar and first vice president Ruth Corlett serve punch during intermission of “Heaven Can Wait.” For more information email

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2012 Living Legends of Alexandria Honored

The 5th Annual Meet the Legends reception was held March 22 at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office where more than 300 people gathered to celebrate the 2012 Living Legends of Alexandria.

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Recording artist and blues preservationist Curtis Blues sang and played at George Washington Middle School on March 2 to more than 300 students and teachers. His educational performance on the Mississippi Delta Blues wove together music, history and an inspirational message about creativity and character. Blues’ visit was sponsored by the Hammerheads, an afterschool club whose members had recently finished building their own cigar box guitars. Tech Ed teacher Kyle Godfrey sponsors the club in partnership with the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.

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Cherry Dishes Compete in Alexandria

Restaurants help celebrate George Washington’s birthday.

Twelve years ago, the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee was looking for a way to get the local restaurants involved.

Adams, Harris Engaged

Mr. and Mrs. Larry H. Adams, of Fairfax County, are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Lauren Akilah Adams to Wesley Alan Harris, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Harris of Columbia, Md.

Letter: Radle Endorses Shuttleworth

When I made the careful decision to enter the Democratic Congressional [8th district] primary, my goals were to help address the serious needs of the American people, invest in our future, enhance our quality of life, instill confidence in our nation, prevent future government shutdowns, and expand opportunity for every American.

Thursday, April 5

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The Power of One in 'On the Waterfront' at The American Century Theatre

It has been hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time, winning eight Academy Awards for an all-star cast that included Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. But for playwright Budd Schulberg, himself an Oscar winner for Best Story and Screenplay, the 1954 film version of “On the Waterfront” was never quite the story he wanted told.

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County Aims to Prevent Substance Use and Abuse

Alcohol use down, painkiller and inhalant use on the rise.

Twenty-one questions in the 2010 Fairfax County Youth Survey dealt with substance abuse. The survey asked about lifetime use of alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes, as well as use in the past month of 13 different substances.

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Basketball’s Capital Classic Showcase Set for April 21

Preliminary game will feature Westfield’s Zach Elcano and former Chantilly player Kethan Savage.

The 39th Annual Capital Classic high school basketball event, set to take place on Saturday, April 21, will consist of a full day of All Star hoops games at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria.

Letter: Is Current Spending Valid?

The March 22-28, 2012 Mount Vernon Gazette front page article “Hyland Calls For a Meals Tax” that would impose a 4 percent tax on meals that is for education and roads.

Letter: Choose Right Path

On March 24, the Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC) held an extremely successful convention at West Springfield High School. With over 1000 attendees, this is the largest convention anyone can recall the Fairfax GOP ever having, and it is a sign of great things to come in 2012 and beyond.

Column: State: Local Streams and Rivers Are Polluted

Last week, I received a report from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding Mount Vernon and Lee’s rivers and streams.

UCM Receives Grant from Foundation

United Community Ministries was recently awarded a grant of $15,000 from the Devotion to Children Foundation.

County Launches Transit Study

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has launched its 2050 Countywide Transit Network Study.

Area Health Students Win State Awards at Conference

Twelve Health and Medical Sciences students from Fairfax County Public Schools won awards at the 32nd annual HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) State Leadership Conference held recently in Williamsburg.

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment, Classifieds and Home and Garden ads here!

Wednesday, April 4

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West Potomac Senior Belanger Throws No-Hitter

Wolverines win spring break tournament on home field.

Josh Belanger didn’t need expectations, first-pitch strikes or a consistent breaking ball to give his fellow Wolverines the career-best effort they were looking for.

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Sports Briefs: West Potomac Softball Starts 9-1

The West Potomac softball team concluded its appearance at the Madison spring break tournament with three consecutive victories, improving its record to 9-1.

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Fasten Your Seatbelts

VDOT officials say I-495 Express Lanes will be just that.

Predictable, safe and reliable is not how most motorists would describe driving on the obstacle course known as the Capital Beltway.

Letter: Radle Endorses Shuttleworth

When I made the careful decision to enter the Democratic Congressional [8th district] primary, my goals were to help address the serious needs of the American people, invest in our future, enhance our quality of life, instill confidence in our nation, prevent future government shutdowns, and expand opportunity for every American.

Tuesday, April 3

Column: Infusing Is Semi Amusing

So here I go again; heavy-duty chemotherapy for the first time in nearly three years. As such, I thought I’d try and write another column while actually sitting in the Barcalounger at The Infusion Center (as I did three years ago: “Chemo-Cocktailing at the Depot” was that column’s title) and see what my pen has to say.

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Video: Englin Admits to Being Unfaithful in Marriage; Announces He Will Not Seek Fifth Term

Delegate makes announcement in emotional speech to Alexandria Democratic Committee

In an emotional speech to the Alexandria Democratic Committee Del. David Englin (D-45) announced he will not seek a fifth term to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Monday, April 2

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Alexandria Native Quinn Hynes in "The Hunger Games"

Student answers call for extras.

Poverty and defeat are the trademarks of District 12, the coal-producing region of Panem in Suzanne Collins’ box office success, “The Hunger Games.” For Alexandria native Quinn Hynes, however, being a member of District 12 was a dream come true.