Stories for February 2012

Stories for February 2012


Wednesday, February 29

Mount Vernon Girls Fall One Victory Shy of States

Majors lose to Oakton for the second time this season.

Mount Vernon girls’ basketball coach Courtney Coffer hung his head and fought back tears as he sat at the end of the Majors’ bench after their Northern Region semifinal matchup with Oakton on Feb. 24. As time passed, he wondered if he had done enough. How could this happen again?

Column: State Shirks Transportation Responsibility

Maybe we should rename our County The Bank of Last Resort.

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Because of Bullis

Through community service, everyone benefits.

“Because of Bullis, A Wider Circle has a more dignified space. Because of Bullis’ lacrosse team, we were able to unload 300 mattresses in a couple of hours — giving 300 more Montgomery County residents a bed to sleep in that evening.

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Bone Marrow Donor Drive for 13-year-old Leukemia Survivor

Shynia Milligan's family is coordinating the bone marrow drive at Almas Temple, on K Street in Washington, D.C.

Thirteen-year-old Shynia Milligan was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) in the summer of 2010. AML is a life-threatening blood cancer.

Classified Advertising

Read this weeks great jobs and get your home ready for spring with our home services directory!

Tuesday, February 28

Column: “Battling Cancer”

I suppose, as a cancer patient, there’s a presumption/understanding that not giving into cancer and its potential ravages is an ongoing battle – to the death, if you will. And I imagine, on many levels, some truer than others, it is. War is indeed waged – so to speak, in hopes of defeating this horrible disease (enemy).

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The Bus Was Stuffed

Local food pantries receive record donations from 2nd annual Stuff the Bus campaign.

Fairfax County’s second annual Stuff the Bus campaign roared to the finish line last week, collecting more than 25,604 pounds of food and $3,483 – a 26 percent increase in food, and a 236 percent increase in cash over 2011 totals.

Saturday, February 25

Lamond Park Renamed to Honor Gil McCutcheon

The Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted to rename Lamond Community Park to Gilbert S. McCutcheon Park, an action taken to honor the former Park Authority board member who represented the Mount Vernon District from 1992 to 2010.

Jazzercise Instructor Celebrates 25 Years of Fitness

On March 3, Jazzercise instructor Mindy LaBruno will celebrate her 25th anniversary of teaching Jazzercise.

Column: Improving Budget While Fighting Right-Wing Social Agenda

On Sunday, the House and Senate budget committees unveiled competing versions of Virginia's $85-billion two-year budget.

Sharp-Shooting Loftus Lifts Majors Over Centreville

Junior ties career high with five 3-points in regional opener.

Kelly Loftus scored 23 points and tied a career high with five 3-pointers as the Mount Vernon girls’ basketball team defeated Centreville 65-52 in the opening round of the Northern Region tournament.

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West Potomac Academy Hosts Open House

West Potomac Academy hosted an open house for prospective students on its campus at West Potomac High School on Friday, Feb. 17. All classes were open and showcased current studies.

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Bethlehem Baptist Church Defies Earthquake Damage

Sanctuary is pronounced safe.

Feb. 19 was a glory day for the pastor and congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church, an historic congregation on Fordson Road in Gum Springs dating to 1863.

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George Washington Birthday Parade

The annual George Washington Birthday Parade attracted crowds in Alexandria on Monday, Feb. 20.

Friday, February 24

Letter: Check Up on Legislators

The Virginia General Assembly's web site is very valuable for determining what your state delegate and senator is doing to represent you because it has information readily available on legislation introduced (patron) and signed on other bills (co patron) by each state delegate and senator, committee assignments, bills considered by committees and votes cast by each General Assembly member in committees, during house and senate floor sessions and whether to pass or reject bills. The patron of a bill has the responsibility of providing data to committees for consideration to pass or reject a bill. When a person co-patrons a bill it shows support for the bill's content.

Thursday, February 23

Arlington Calendar Feb. 22-28

Know of something missing from our community entertainment Calendar? Send it to The Arlington Connection, e-mail it to Deadline is 2 p.m. the Thursday before publication. Call Steve Hibbard at 703-778-9412 with any questions. Photos are welcome.

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For Pets from Paradise, Alexandria Is Heaven

Adoption opportunities for kittens in need

The U.S. territory of St. Croix is a Caribbean paradise. A rolling sea surrounds lush beaches, the climate is warm year-round, and there are few crowds. The same island features that make for an amiable habitat for humans, however, are disastrous for local animal populations.

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Behind the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter

For 15 years, she served as City Manager and knew in advance the details of every item that was scheduled to come before City Council. So for Vola Lawson, that one City Council meeting back in 1999 took her by surprise.

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They Focus on ‘Orphan’ Disease

Malignant mesothelioma appears in 3,000 cases annually

Malignant mesothelioma is a tumor found in the lining of the lungs, heart or stomach. Exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma. It lies dormant and asymptomatic within people for as long as 50 years before it erupts. Once diagnosed — 3,000 cases annually — the disease is always fatal.

McCaffrey Addresses Friendship Veterans

Patsy Ticer receives distinguished service award

The Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association held its annual breakfast Feb. 20 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Old Town in the traditional kick-off to the city's George Washington Birthday Parade celebrations.

Column: Seminary Valley

If you lived in Seminary Valley in the 1960s and ’70s, you knew the McKeon family and their eight children: Charles McKeon, Jr., Sharon, Brian, Peggy, John, Pat, Keen and Marie. Last week, the Valley and Alexandria lost Mae McKeon, formerly of Strathblane Place. Marie (Zack) still lives in the original family home and it was the scene of a reunion after Mae’s service at Blessed Sacrament.

Column: National Controversy and Budget Process Begins

Crossover Week at the General Assembly found us in the national media spotlight of Saturday Night Live, CNN and the Rachel Maddow Show. Over 1,000 demonstrators appeared at the State Capitol this week.

Column: On the Way to $85 Billion Budget

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling broke a tie in the evenly divided Senate chamber at the beginning of the Session. This provided Republican organizational control of the Senate even though a lawsuit is still pending on whether the power should be shared. In taking this step, many bills have been passed that were voted down by a more moderate Senate in past years.

Column: Advice for Healthy Seniors

The Senior Speaker Series continues next month with an event co-sponsored by Senior Services of Alexandria and Inova Alexandria Hospital on March 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Letter: Prompt Action, Good Work

I am writing to commend the City of Alexandria’s Office of Environmental Quality for its prompt response to a concern I passed along to them this past Wednesday, Feb. 15. That morning, I was walking my dog in the Chinquapin woods, like I do every weekday just before dawn

Column: Building Windmills, Transforming Communities

I was amazed and inspired when I read "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity & Hope," written by Malawi-born author William Kamkwamba with journalist Bryan Mealer.

Letter: Invaluable Assist for Seniors

With all the talk about the rapid growth of the aging population, here in Alexandria there is an answer that benefits our community by supporting seniors who want to stay in their homes.

Letter: Manager’s Budget Lacks Vision

Alexandria's city manager's proposed budget reveals a flawed focus and vision. Instead of proposing major budget cuts in public safety and scaling back the major capital improvement projects, our city manager has instead preferred to cut jobs and reward the speculative metrics of more expenditures on public safety and priority development projects.

Letter: Displacing The Poor

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Beauregard Small Area Plan working session held at the Landmark Mall. As many of your readers may be aware, this plan is quite contentious — particularly to the residents of the West End neighborhood who will be most impacted.

Letter: Congressional Satirist?

Let’s not lose our faith in Rep. Moran’s ability to surprise. As background, he gamely decided to co-sponsor the STOCK Act which prohibits congressmen from buying or selling securities based on “congressional nonpublic” information.

Letter: Honoring George Washington

I commend Mayor Euille for proclaiming February 2012 as a month-long celebration to mark George Washington’s 280th birthday and the Birthday Committee for planning and facilitating the events and activities throughout the month.

Letter: Say Thanks in the Budget

Scott Gordon wrote a very moving tribute to our Alexandria First Responders in his Feb. 16 letter entitled "Say Thanks." He's right; the spirit of his letter and his recommendation to just say thanks are both spot on.

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Voters to Have Final Say on Eminent Domain Amendment

Opinions are divided as to what kind of influence the amendment could have if passed.

This fall, voters across Virginia will be confronted with a hotly debated amendment to the Virginia Constitution that seeks to limit the ability of local governments to use the power of eminent domain.

Wednesday, February 22

Column: Marking Time

As much as I don’t want to be ever-mindful of today’s date – relative to when I first learned of my diagnosis, that Thursday three years ago this very week, when my Internal Medicine doctor called me with the results of the biopsy (confirming the malignancy); and of course all that had preceded it and all that has happened since.

Tuesday, February 21

Employment and Classified Ads Feb. 22, 2012

Classifieds Feb. 22, 2012: Job Opportunities, Yard Sales, Home Repairs and Handyman Services

Trust Deficit In FCPS

Once again, I would like to thank you all for your dedication to the students, parents and teachers of Fairfax County Public Schools. It

Letter: Unfulfilled Master Plan

To the Editor: Susan Palmer ["Valued Local Park," The Gazette, Feb. 9-15, 2012] responded to my suggestion that the Lamond Park, now named after former Mount Vernon Park Commissioner Gil McCutcheon be sold and the proceeds be used to fund creation of the proposed Park at North Hill

Letter: Fight To Save Waterfront Continues

Three citizens who filed a Protest Petition on behalf of over 200 waterfront homeowners and commercial property owners along the Potomac River have won their first victory. The Council was forced to delay a second required vote to rezone the waterfront at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14 until an appeals board reviews the matter later this spring.

Letter: Concerned With Vacancy

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, , Alexandria City Manager Rashad Young presented his fiscal 2013 budget recommendations to City Council. Until Council approves the final budget on May 7, the City's Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee (BFAAC) will be examining the budget, hearing the concerns of citizens and making it's own recommendations to Council.

Letter: In Need of A Statesman

To the Editor: Even as we examine the most iniquitous chapters of American history, even among those days and times characterized by the most reckless of evils, we find that hope has always prevailed over despair.

Letter: Say Thanks

Police officers chase criminals, walk up to dangerous situations without hesitation, fight crime and protect our families. Our firefighters and EMS do the same, they walk into burning buildings, save lives, risk their own every day and more often than not, they do all of this without the hand shaking and hand clapping of the citizens they serve.

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Community Supports ‘Road to Nationals’

Additional support critical as team works to raise final $6,000.

Thanks to an outpouring of support from the Fort Hunt Community, the West Potomac Varsity Dance Team has raised almost 75 percent of their fundraising goal to pay for the team’s trip to the National Dance Alliance (NDA) National Championship in Orlando, Fla. next month

Letter: Focus on People In Beauregard

Recent diagrams by City of Alexandria staff used to explain the proposed Beauregard Corridor relies on dots and circles. What is overlooked in the maps, are realistic proposals or guidelines connecting the dots — people to destinations within the plan area.

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Supporting Wounded Warriors

Ulysses S. James, music director and conductor, Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association, took center stage at the Kennedy Center once again recently as he conducted A Concert for Project Blessing and a Tribute to Wounded Warriors, a sold-out fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors at the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center.

Letter: Losing Battle For Education?

Decisions. When it comes to public policy, the decisions are never as simple as everyone would like and many times, you never really understand why people make the decisions they make. The Superintendent’s salary was increased salary increased to $244,080 ($44,380 more than what the U.S. Secretary of Education makes and $69,080 more than what the Governor of Virginia makes), and what has Alexandria gotten for that money?

Column: Bipartisan Transportation Progress and a Week of Controversy

This week brings the midpoint of the General Assembly Session and "Crossover Day" – the day that the House and Senate must finish all work on bills originating from their own chambers.

Column: Crossover Point in General Assembly

Tuesday, Feb. 14, marks what is referred to as Crossover in the General Assembly.

Letter: Keep All Options Open

In their letter to the editor last week, Nate Macek and Bob Wood, co-authors of the Waterfront Plan Work Group final report, remind readers that the Work Group "was in broad agreement that eminent domain should play no part in the acquisition of private property along the City's Waterfront."

West Potomac Academy to Host Open House

West Potomac Academy will open its classroom doors to prospective students and their parents, local business representatives, and community members for an open house on Friday, Feb. 17, between 9 a.m and 1 p.m.

Letter: Ideological Differences

Del. David Englin exhorts us to “Put Pragmatism Over Ideology” so as to not “balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” But an attitude against “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor” is no less an “ideology” than that of the “no tax pledge” contingent.

Browne Wins First Place in State Competition

The Browne Academy eighth grade placed first in the Middle School "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" state competition on Saturday, Feb. 11.

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Teacher Launches TeamEsteem Program

Latest book addresses finance for youths

Born and raised on Buchanan Street in Alexandria, West Potomac High School teacher Daryl Mackey was determined to give back to his community. In the early 1990s, he launched his DreamEsteem program as West Potomac High School's basketball coach.

Messages Sent by Fan

In the language of the fan: Come visit me at the Lee-Fendall House.

Column: Bringing Job Search Assistance

Valentine's Day was very special this year at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House (OPMH) in Alexandria. The church hosted the latest event in Senior Services of Alexandria' Speaker Series titled, "Staying Connected: Employment and Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors in Alexandria.”

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60th Anniversary

Marvin and Charlotte Waldman were married Jan. 13, 1952, in Yonkers, N.Y.

Archie Lee Liming

Archie Lee Liming, 92, formerly of Alexandria, Va., died peacefully at the home of his daughter in Lusby, Md. on Feb.

Column: Conservatives Shape Legislation

The Virginia General Assembly has moved into the halfway point, a time of year we call crossover. During crossover, legislation that has passed from one chamber will go to the other for consideration.

Harold 'Bud' Beagle

Harold Lee (Bud) Beagle (86) of Milton, Tenn., (formerly of Englewood, Fla.), died on Feb. 8, 2012. He was born Dec. 10, 1925 in Alexandria, and grew up in Catonsville, Md.

Free Foreclosure Prevention Clinics Offered

Housing Counseling Services will host multiple Foreclosure Prevention Clinics during the month of February. Clinics are currently scheduled for Feb. 20, and 27 at 12 p.m. in Conference Room 3 of the City of Alexandria Office of Housing, 421 King Street, Suite 200.

Barbara Parkinson, Longtime Connection employee

Barbara Jean Parkinson, age 67 of Sterling, Va., died Feb. 7, 2012 at her residence. Born on Sept. 17, 1944 in New York she was the daughter of the late Charles and Elizabeth Lundy.

Monday, February 20

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House Rejects Amendment Requiring Consent for Ultrasound Procedures

Effort was reaction to bill requiring women seeking abortions to undergo transvaginal ultrasound.

The effort to require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound has also sparked some of the most heated debate in Richmond this year.

Saturday, February 18

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Alexandria Man Arrested for Attempting to Detonate Bomb in Suicide Attack on Capitol

Suspect is an immigrant from Morocco who is illegally present in the United States.

Federal agents arrested a 29-year-old man residing in Alexandria for attempting to detonate a bomb in a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol Building as part of what he intended to be a terrorist operation.

Friday, February 17

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Dressed To Impress

High fashion requires more than good looks. High fashion requires a complete approach that combines education and real world experience. For those who study at the West Potomac Academy of Fashion Design, the ins and outs of the industry are taught through coursework that emphasizes creativity grounded in practicality.

Staying Focused

UCM’s Cynthia Hull, stricken with cancer, provided for the poor through the recession.

Cynthia Hull, 62, advocate of the poor who successfully led United Community Ministries through recession and diminishing sources of funding, was diagnosed with cancer in early January. She is in Stage 4 of terminal lung cancer that has metasticized throughout her body. She was never a smoker.

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New Laws Attack Poor

Richmond’s action said to compound economy’s effect on those in need.

Eager to meet their state legislators and see them in action at the General Assembly, 25 people from Rising Hope Mission which serves the homeless and needy along the Route 1 corridor journeyed Feb. 2 to Richmond in a bus paid for by Del. Scott Surovell.

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Bryant Hosts Winter Graduation

Bryant Alternative High School on Quander Road held its winter graduation on Thursday, Feb. 9. Bryant Alternative High School on Quander Road held its winter graduation on Thursday, Feb. 9. More than 70 students crossed the stage and received diplomas. Bryant offers programs in adult education, individual teacher support through the Focused Instructional Time program in addition to Project Opportunity, a high school completion program for pregnant or parenting young women.

Thursday, February 16

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Mount Vernon’s Floyd Captures Second Region Title

Majors finish fourth at region wrestling championships.

Centreville's Ryan Sepulveda challenged Mount Vernon's Dusty Floyd and held a 1-0 lead midway through the third period. But Floyd would not be denied as he tied the score with an escape and produced the winning points with a takedown in the final minute. Fans on both sides of the gym at Hayfield Secondary School chanted "Let’s go Dusty!" as Floyd won a 3-1 decision on Feb. 11.

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Making the Grade

Local school officials offer strategies for strengthening study habits.

When Jackie Jackson’s son brought home his report card recently, the Centreville mother of three was shocked. "His grades had fallen to an unacceptable level," said Jackson

Frida Kahlo: Her Photos At Artisphere

The celebrated artist’s life revealed through personal photographs.

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)’s extraordinary life and iconic biographical paintings have earned her international renown in the world of modern art.

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"Really Really:" Reasonable Doubt

Spellbinding 'Really Really' debuts at Signature.

Did he or didn't he? It was the college party of the year and ambitious young co-ed Leigh finally gets her man, the All-American rugby captain Davis. But all is not what it seems as events unfold in the spellbinding production of "Really Really," now playing at Signature Theatre.

Letter: Elections for Family And Community

To the Editor: We need effective, sustainable solutions. When more than 100 million Americans are living in poverty, struggling to keep their homes, when millions of Americans are unemployed and others have given up, we need jobs.

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Bill Would Set Aside Unallocated Money for Preschool Funding

Effort seen as way to use money for preschool rather than returning it to the general fund.

Every year, millions of dollars worth of preschool funding goes unused. Here in Alexandria, for example, Virginia offered $1.6 million worth of matching funds for preschool programs in the city.

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Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board Steps Out of the Jazz Age

Bill would increase representation for Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

For almost a century, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has been partying like it was 1922.

Tuesday, February 14

Column: "Diseased"

But not sickness. Not health, either, as last week’s column ended. At least that’s the way I characterize my having stage IV lung cancer. And I don’t know if I’m splitting hairs here, since I’ve never worked in a salon, although I do get my hair cut regularly; but I have been accused of speaking double-talk.

Friday, February 10

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Cracking Down on Texting While Driving

Bill would make it a primary offense rather than a secondary offense.

Although he hasn’t been reading them while driving, state Sen. George Barker (D-39) has been receiving a flood of emails about distracted driving. Increasingly,

Thursday, February 9



George Washington Birthday Celebration in Alexandria

Feb. 18-20: Washington’s Birthday Weekend includes Washington’s Birthnight Banquet & Ball, Medeira Wine Tasting, and 10-K run

Thousands will join in the revelry for the 280th anniversary of George Washington’s birth in his hometown of Alexandria. The city celebrates the General’s birthday throughout the month of February with more than a dozen festive events, including the largest George Washington birthday parade in the country, free admission to historic sites, 18th-century dance classes, popular walking tours, and even a Cherry-themed challenge among local restaurants.

30 Years in Prison for Wife’s Murder

‘There’s nothing to defend this crime.’

Consumed by his own irrational fears and demons, Chantilly’s Tony Tong had threatened to kill his wife for years. In October 2010, he did so; and last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court, he was sentenced to 30 years in pri


Free Carseat Inspections

The Play’s the Thing

Chantilly, Westfield finish first, second in one-act competition.

Local students showed off their acting chops last week when Chantilly and Westfield high schools finished first and second, respectively, in the Concorde District portion of the VHSL One-Act Play Competition. It was held Monday, Jan. 30, at Herndon High.

Details of the Offense

In January 2011, Tony Tong had a preliminary hearing in connection with the death of his wife, Kathleen Tran. Homicide Det. Brian Colligan explained the events leading up to the Oct. 22, 2010 tragedy. He said Tran had driven their son John home from a friend’s house and, some time after 1 a.m., they arrived home to find Tong, then 43, furious.

Progress Report from Labor Resource Center

The Centreville Labor Resource Center (CLRC) opened in December and, in nearly two months of operation, registered more than 150 Centreville-area residents who want temporary employment. CLRC’s professional staff and 27 volunteers provide information and quick service to both employers and those seeking work.

‘Dramapalooza’ at Centreville High

One-act play festival takes the stage.

Students take the helm when Centreville High presents "Dramapalooza," its annual, one-act play festival. Show times are Friday, Feb 17, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb 18, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Campbell Takes a Look Back

Although Mike Campbell will leave Centreville High in July, he’s still delighted to be its principal and is proud of the school’s standing locally and nationwide.

Heading for Huntsville

CVH Principal Campbell retiring, taking job in Alabama.

The way Mike Campbell figures it, his retirement will last all of 24 hours. Centreville High’s principal is leaving the school, this summer, and heading for a new job with Huntsville City Public Schools in Alabama.

Inspire Love

…with a few good words

Roses are red and chocolates taste great, I like your style, let’s go on a date. Corny, sincere, pleasant or tongue in check, the gift of words is a unique present for that special someone this Valentine’s Day.

Column: Let’s Put Pragmatism Over Ideology

As the halfway point of this year’s General Assembly session quickly approaches, our attention has turned to the state’s two-year budget.

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And the Greatest of These Is Love

Celebrating a marriage in the face of Alzheimer's disease

The phone conversation was not going well. It was 1956 and Abe Ashcanase was being questioned by a new personnel relations employee regarding a colleague at his post in Bangkok

Column: Backsliding in Richmond

As we approach the halfway point of the 2012 legislative session, I like to take a moment to reflect on the path that we in Richmond have taken so far this year. It also makes me think of leaders that have come before like Alice Paul and Fannie Lou Hamer.

Letter: Support Police Memorial Fund

To the Editor: I urge my fellow Alexandrians to contribute money to create a timeless memorial honoring the courage, gallantry, heroism and personal sacrifice of police officers who have died in the line of duty protecting others.

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Vote for DRBA's Heart of Del Ray

The “Heart of Del Ray Award” is annually presented by the Del Ray Business Association during the Valentine's Day holiday to the business that serves as the heart and soul of Del Ray. Residents, customers and friends of the Del Ray community determine the winner of the award through online voting, which is open through Feb 12.

Letter: Nothing Settled

To the Editor: It was a blast from the past to find former Council member David Speck in the Council Chamber at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21.

Letter: Regional Hub At Mark Center

To the Editor: The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is soliciting comments on a proposed High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) direct access ramp from the existing HOV lanes along Interstate 395 (I-395) to Seminary Road.

Peggy Jane Miller, 83, died Friday, Jan. 27

Peggy Jane Miller, 83, born in Cheshire, Ohio and formerly of Alexandria, Va., died Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 from complications of pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

Letter: Importance Of Language

To the Editor: Del. David Englin should be more careful when he writes about abortion issues before the legislature to not refer to fetuses as "babies."

Letter: Budgeting Mediocrity

The following open letter was addressed to members of the School Board, Superintendent, ACPS Central Office Staff, teachers and citizens of Alexandria.

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Sherlock Holmes On Stage

The Mount Vernon Community Children's Theatre will present “The Adventure of the Speckled Band featuring Sherlock Holmes” on Feb. 11, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 12, 19 at 3 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Heritage Presbyterian Church, 8503 Fort Hunt Road.

Letter: Taxes Keep Increasing

To the Editor: I would like to comment on the statements from several letters about how recently approved development keeps our taxes low, and that we should seek even more development using that argument.

Letter: End Kings Dominion Law

To the Editor: Children all over the Commonwealth of Virginia scored a decided victory when the House of Delegates passed H.B. 1063, bipartisan legislation, by a vote of 76 to 23, to repeal the Labor Day Law, commonly referred to as the Kings Dominion (as in the amusement park) Law.

Letter: Work Group’s Recommendations

To the Editor: As co-authors of the final report of the Waterfront Plan Work Group, we must address two misperceptions of the Work Group's work that have been perpetuated in media articles and letters-to-editor from individuals on both sides of the Waterfront Plan debate.

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Academy Hosts Health Fair

The West Potomac Academy Health Classes hosted the second day of their annual health care fair for the children in the Head Start Program at the high school on Feb. 3.

Letter: Need To Be Constructive

While The Old Town Civic Association is disappointed that the City Council did not defer approval of the plan to take the extra time to address the concerns outlined in the OTCA Board Resolution, we acknowledge that by their action on Jan. 21, the Draft Waterfront Small Area Plan is now an approved plan and that the planning process is now entering the next phase in its evolution.

Letter: Cancelled Parent- Teacher Conferences

With the start of the new calendar year, tasked with assembling our family’s master schedule I was surprised to discover that the winter Parent-Teacher conferences were not on the ACPS calendar for secondary school stude

Letter: Waterfront Will Benefit All

I never want to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but one cannot just make stuff up to denigrate someone with whom you disagree.

Letter: The Ruin of West End

To the Editor: The Beauregard Draft Plan currently being "rolled out" for public scrutiny portends the ruin of the West End.

Seminary Valley

Good news for the West End … Café Pizzaiolo has come to Cameron Station.

Column:Old Town

HAF LIVES - "Towners, I don't know where this winter has gone since we last talked. All I really know is I woke up last Tuesday, Feb 2, to be told by the person I live with that it's Groundhog Day and I can come out, now. So, I promptly did and I know you missed me.

Column: Socially Conservative Measures Advance

“General Assembly: Right turn” was the heading of a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial last week. It reflects many of the changes I mentioned in my previous article. As the editorial states: “Elections do have consequences. That’s doubly true in the state Senate, where Republicans have assumed control of committees that once bottled up socially conservative measures.”

Column: Guns, Abortion and Voter Suppression Dominates

The last week of January brought a quickened pace to the legislative process as committees worked to push bills through committee. We are required to complete all work on bills from our own Chamber by “Crossover” on Feb.14 which means they must be reported out of committee by Feb. 10.

City Ducks

Lots of us are looking forward to spring right now; Mike Curry and his colleagues at the National Geographic Society are looking for the return of a mallard hen.

Letter: True Champion

To the Editor: All students attending Fairfax County Public Schools and their parents owe a debt of gratitude to a true champion. While a committee of people worked to restore honors, it is due to the heroic efforts of Kate van Dyke that the School Board voted on Thursday, Jan. 26, 11 to 1 to restore all five honors courses in the fall of 2012.

Letter: Support This Living Tribute

To the Editor: Cynthia Hull, our dear executive director, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. To those who know her, Cynthia is a passionate advocate who has dedicated her life to the service of others, most recently in her nearly five years at United Community Ministries (UCM).

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Letter: To Serve All People

To the Editor: Every year, for the last 25 years, United Methodists from across Virginia converge on the General Assembly on a specific day in February to share our concerns about where our faith connects us with the issues in our communities and the broader society.

Letter: Valued Local Park

To the Editor: This letter is in response to H. Jay Spiegel's suggestion that the Lamond property be sold to fund the development of the North Hill Park. I choose not to address his recommendation of selling one "local serving park" to fund another "local serving park"

Letter: Financial Consequences

To the Editor: In last week's Gazette, two letters were published critical of my letter in the prior edition concerning the MVCCA's passage of a resolution encouraging the County to take over responsibility for maintenance of sewer lines at locations beyond the property of the homeowner, under the adjacent street.

Letter: Need To Cut Back

To the Editor: At a time when budgets are tight, and programs and services in our community are being cut back, the Pentagon budget keeps getting bigger. The Secretary of Defense announced on Jan. 26 that he plans to slow the rate of growth for the Pentagon budget, but even under this proposal in 10 years the Pentagon budget would still be bigger than it is today.

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Valentine's Day Décor

In honor of Cupid's day, share ideas for sweetening a home or dining table.

Whether planning a dinner party for friends, a romantic meal for two or a breakfast surprise for children, local designers say simple accents can create a festive atmosphere on Valentine's Day.

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Bracing for Massive Change Along the Route 1 Corridor

Whether called it Route 1, Richmond Highway or Hyland Highway, it won’t be the same.

What’s in a name? As William Shakespeare once wrote, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Then again, the bard never got stuck in traffic.

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Tightening Asbestos Regulations

Bill protecting workers passes Senate with unanimous vote.

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Yet labor advocates say the people who are licensed to remove asbestos may not be fully aware of the dangers posed by toxic chemicals.

Wednesday, February 8

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Sports Briefs: West Po’s Thompson Headed to Regionals

West Potomac’s Monica Thompson took a chance at the Patriot District gymnastics meet by attempting a vault she had never thrown during competition. The result helped earn the sophomore an all-around berth to regionals.

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Mount Vernon Wins District Wrestling Championship

Seniors Floyd, Marino improve combined record to 94-3.

Led by seniors Dusty Floyd and Cody Marino, Mount Vernon amassed a 39-3 record in dual meets during the 2011-12 season. On Saturday, the Majors continued their dominance, finishing 39 points ahead of runner-up Washington-Lee at the National District meet.

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House on a Hill

Contemporary in Oakton transformed into welcoming southern colonial.

Hunstville, Ala. is a pretty small town-- yet it has three historic districts and more homes in the national register than most places twice its size. Growing up in such a community, Gina Jones is understandably attracted to welcoming porches and grand foyers--hallmarks of the antebellum style.

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Remodeling: An Opportunity To Follow One’s Passion

Adding that personal touch.

Having remodeled thousands of projects over the past 25 years, our clients' reactions tell us that some of the most successful projects often address a specific passion or interest. Folks seem to be spending more and more time at home not only working, but also enriching their lives through personal interests.

Editorials: Access to Activities for Home Schoolers; Action in Richmond; Changes in Gun Laws

Families who home-school their children in this area take a burden off crowded schools, and off taxpayers who pay on average between $12,000 and $16,000 per year per child in school depending on where in Northern Virginia.

Tuesday, February 7

Column: Back On The Juice…

The chemotherapy juice, that is. Going forward now, every three weeks until I’ve completed six infusions, finishing sometime around mid May barring any foreseen – and previously experienced blips (meaning delays): levels, counts, readings, etc., that would compel my oncologist to stop åhe treatment and await results of a retest

Friday, February 3

Column: Musings from the Maestro - Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Valentine's Day Weekend Concert

On Feb. 11 and 12, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra continues its season-long celebration of The Music of Dreams with its Valentine’s Day weekend concerts entitled "Prescient Revelation." I’m very excited about our thrilling series of concerts and its historic line-up of guest artists — truly a season of living legends.

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Cementing the Districts

Republicans try to lock in eight-to-three advantage in congressional redistricting.

Now that congressional redistricting has moved through the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate, a picture of 2012 is beginning to take shape.

Thursday, February 2

Moderate Mutiny

With the sluggish economy at the forefront of voters’ minds this year, former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine hopes to put fiscal issues at the top of his campaign to fill the seat vacated by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jim Webb. In an interview on Thursday, Jan. 19, Kaine said he hopes to promote a "talent economy" in Washington. It’s a reality the former governor says has become evident in the last few decades, when Virginia moved from being one of the lowest median income states to being one of the wealthiest.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Lunar Chinese New Year festivities continued this past weekend, attracting hundreds of thousands of shoppers and visitors to Fair Oaks Mall. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the Chinese traditional calendar, based on the phases of the moon and the solar year. The year is 4710 and celebrates the dragon, which is considered the luckiest sign of the Chinese zodiac, symbolizing strength, power and good luck.

Commentary: Dulles Rail Phase II: A Common Sense Approach

This spring the Fairfax and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will be required to make a final decision to opt in or out of Phase II of the Dulles Rail project. Rail through Tysons past the airport and into Loudoun is the largest public works project in the history of the Commonwealth and it has significant financial implications to the counties, its residents and businesses, and especially to the users of the Dulles Toll Road. As the Dulles corridor and Tysons are the economic engines of the region and the Commonwealth the project also has telling implications on our future job growth.

Letter: Waste of Taxpayer Money

I recently received a "Richmond Update" from Del. Jim Le Munyon advising: "I have proposed an additional $400,000 in the state budget for the State Police to more effectively conduct background checks for individuals desiring to purchase a firearm. Recently, a constituent brought to my attention the significant delays some purchasers were experiencing in receiving the results of their background checks …"

Remembering Harry Heisler

Wife mourns husband of 28 years.

Ask Evelyn Heisler what made her husband Harry so special to her, and she answers without hesitation. "He had a razor-sharp wit and a brilliant sense of humor and he made me laugh every day," she said.

Fulfilling a Dream

Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque is almost completed.

Set back from the road, yet perched upon a hill, the mosque that will serve area members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is nearing completion in Chantilly. Just off Walney Road and Eagle Chase Circle, the 7,200-square-foot place of worship is called the Mubarak mosque which, in Islamic, means "blessed tidings."

‘We’re Really Frustrated’

Homeowner’s insurance company seeks damages from WGL.

Leaving a recent meeting of the Brookfield Civic Association, Thuan Nguyen was not a happy man. After losing his home in a December 2010 gas explosion, he and his family carried on with their lives, but never received definitive answers regarding what caused the blast.

Prayer Schedule and Message of Peace

At the new, Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque in Chantilly, morning prayers will start before sunrise; evening prayers are said approximately 45 minutes after sundown. And the imam will be there to lead the congregation in prayer, seven days a week.

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Kiwanis, UCM Award Pam Beggan

The highlight of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club’s holiday party on Dec. 21 was the recognition award ceremony when the club presented a plaque and made Pam Beggan an honorary member for 2012 thanks to her 30 years of dedication to collecting fresh produce at the weekly Farmers Market at the Sherwood Hall library's parking lot from May to November and delivering the hundreds of pounds of food to the UCM's Food Pantry for distribution to needy families in our community.

SCC vs. WGL: What’s Next?

State and gas company disagree over report.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) determined that Washington Gas Company [WGL] committed 11 "probable violations" in regard to the December 2010 explosion in Brookfield. But the gas company believes otherwise.

Vandals Damage New Mosque in Chantilly

Windows smashed, property damaged.

The motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is "Love for all, hatred for none." Its Web site is

"Vote Early, Vote Often"

Chamber Gala gives back to local nonprofits.

The 2012 Chamber of Commerce Chairman's Gala will for the first time serve as a fundraiser for five local nonprofit organizations through an online voting campaign through the Chamber's website.

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A Fond Farewell

Reception honors Harry Covert's service.

The Alexandria Sheriff's department bid farewell to Public Information Officer Harry Covert with a Jan. 5 reception at the William G. Truesdale Detention Center that was attended by law enforcement and public safety personnel from across the city.

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New City Manager Highlights Business Forum

The ABC’s of Alexandria

It happens to everyone and on the morning of Jan. 26, it happened to new Alexandria City Manager Rashad Young. “I got stuck in traffic,” laughed Young as he addressed the crowd that had been awaiting his arrival

'The World Is Our Market'

Palmieri to chair Chamber of Commerce

When Andrew Palmieri first moved to Alexandria in 1985, he and two roommates struggled each month to pay the rent on their West End apartment. "We were barely making ends meet," said Palmieri as he reflected back on his early years in the city. "I was in my second year of law school and since that

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Zumba Explosion

Running Brooke Fund raises $5,700 for local charities.

For Dave Lucchesi, it didn't matter that he was the only male on a dance floor that was otherwise filled with women. Instead, he saw it as a chance to try something new and raise money for a good cause at the same time.

Column: Punishment Without Rehabilitation

“Tough on crime” is a phrase in which elected officials delight. It means that the people they represent believe they are working hard to ensure the public safety.

Column: Fighting Controversial Bills, But Finding Common Ground

While the overwhelming majority of legislation we work on in Richmond draws no controversy, we are entering the phase of the General Assembly session where some of the most difficult and divisive issues come up for debate.

Column: Is Breast Cancer Vaccine on the Horizon?

I hope I have to change the direction of my medical practice one day. Because that would mean breast cancer is a thing of the past. As a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer, there is nothing I wish more than its elimination from the lives of my patients, future patients, and anyone who has experienced its impact.

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Old Town Ace Hardware Hosts Pinewood Derby Workshop

Popcorn was popping, the jig saw was cutting, sanders were smoothing out rough edges as the Old Town Ace Hardware’s Pinewood Derby Workshop got underway Saturday morning, Jan. 7.

Column: State Senate Changes Are Affecting Legislation

Some of the bills that have been introduced and regularly died in the Senate in past years are now passing through committees and are likely to pass the Senate and House to become law with the change in Senate leadership resulting in the election of 20 Republican and 20 Democratic senators.

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‘Wings of Gold’

At ceremonies at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. on Nov. 18, 2011, Ensign Brittany Amerau, U.S. Navy, and Second Lieutenant Reed Inglee, U.S. Marine Corps, received their designations as naval aviators upon completion of Navy Flight School and received their Navy “Wings of Gold.”

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A Million-Dollar Winner

David Williams of Alexandria bought and scratched a Casino Royale ticket from the Virginia Lottery. It turned out to be the game’s first $1 million ticket.

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Tasty Support For Heart Association

Occasionally Cake of Alexandria is now taking orders for Valentine’s Day treats through Feb. 11 for pick-up on Tuesday, Feb. 14, ranging in price from $15 to $35

Letter: They Did Show Leadership

To the Editor: Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, marked a day when Alexandria’s City Council members carried out their duties and obligations by gathering all of the facts regarding the Waterfront Plan, and coming to the decision to support the plan.

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$14,000 to INOVA Research

Mount Vernon Athletic Club presented both The Breast Care Institute at INOVA Mount Vernon Hospital and INOVA Alexandria Hospital with checks for $6,900 each on Jan. 17.

Letter: Next Step

Finally, a plan, which features countless hours of citizens input, widespread support, and numerous compromises, passed!

Letter: Increase Voter Access

To the Editor: Virginia lawmakers are debating a bill right now that will create onerous obstacles for Virginia voters if passed.

Letter: Authoritative Yet Uninformed

To the Editor: Perhaps not all of your readers are familiar with the background to Scott Gordon’s letter in last week’s paper — "The Beauregard Small Area Plan is a Disaster."

Letter: Sham of a Public Meeting

To the Editor: I feel I must voice my disappointment in our mayor and the members of the city council who voted to approve the waterfront plan.

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Winter fun means rink activities at Mt. Vernon RECenter.

Grab Those Skates

Group lessons, public sessions,and skating development classes are some of the many ways to have fun on the ice this winter at the Mt. Vernon RECenter.

Letter: Time To Move Forward

To the Editor: The City Council recently voted on the rezoning of the Alexandria Waterfront. We were asked to vote on a Masterplan amendment that increased the density and uses of several key parcels of real estate along the Potomac River.

News Briefs

Accidental House Fire, UCM Seeks Food Donations, Surovell Appointed to Public Safety, Guilty Plea in Shootings, UCM Receives $15,000 Grant, Supporting Wounded Warrior Project

Letter: World Class Place To Live

To the Editor: Most people in Alexandria have been waiting years for the City to finish developing the Waterfron

Letter: Why these Staff Cuts?

To the Editor: On Jan. 19 Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman unveiled what he deemed a "moral document" before the Alexandria School Board.

Letter: Digging into Sewer Problems

Having spent several frustrating years dealing with the sewer problems, I disagree with Jay Spiegel’s conclusions about responsibility for sewer line problems under public streets (but do support his views on the continuing need for more transparency and accountability in public bodies that purport to act for the County’s residents).

Letter: Waterfront Struggle Not Over

To the Editor: Fear not, the fight for the Alexandria Waterfront is not over.

Letter: Awaiting Updates

Apparently, Martin Tillett disagrees with my contentions that people who vote should have to prove their identities with a photo ID and that Virginia should provide such IDs free of charge to those who claim to be unable to afford the $10 fee for a photo ID good for 5 years.

Letter: How a Volunteer Committee Works

This letter to the editor is in response to H. Jay Spiegel’s commentary concerning the sewer resolution passed by the MVCCA during its December 2011 general membership meeting.

Letter: Meet Highest Standards

To the Editor: As a candidate in the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 8th congressional district, I read with particular interest Michael Pope’s article "Blind Trust" [The Gazette, Jan. 5, 2012] on the disparity among candidates for ballot access.

Letter: School Project Ignores Public

To the Editor: ACPS’ plans for building a new Jefferson-Houston elementary school are fundamentally flawed.

Letter: Waterfront Will Benefit All

To the Editor: I never want to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but one cannot just make stuff up to denigrate someone with whom you disagre

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Aspire, Advance, Achieve

The Baltimore-Washington Section of the Society of Women Engineers, along with Booz Allen Hamilton’s African American Forum, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter and Omicron Rho Chapter), National Society of Black Engineers, and Booz Allen’s Woman Forum presented “Making it Better” Badge Day at Mount Vernon High School on Saturday, Jan. 28.

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Sampling City’s Arts

Chinese art delegation arrives in Alexandria.

Alexandria welcomed a delegation of Chinese media and artists from Jiangsu Province on Jan. 13, which marked an auspicious start to 2012 and the Year of the Dragon.

Homeless Couple Survives the Streets

“There’s a place called Rising Hope.”

Trapped in a downward spiral of homelessness beginning in the summer of 2009, Marvin and Debra Britt, both 52, endured. “That’s when the economy got hard. We lost our jobs,” said Marvin Britt, who was working building homes at Fort Belvoir while Debra had a job doing inserts for a newspaper.

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Campaign Kickoff for McConville

Jay McConville kicked off his campaign to be the next Fairfax County Republican Committee chairman last month at the Army Navy Country Club in Fairfax.

Column: Progress on Transportation, Government Efficiency

Week #4 of the General Assembly saw two of my bills pass and many controversial proposals starting to hit the floor of the House of Delegates.

Wednesday, February 1

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West Potomac Girls Set Two District Swim Records

Next: Northern Region championships.

Thirteen West Potomac swimmers (eight girls and five boys) will advance to the Northern Region swim and dive championships Feb. 2-4 after a competitive Patriot District meet Friday and Saturday at Lee District RECenter.

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Sports Briefs: Floyd Sets MVHS Wrestling Record

Senior wrestler Dusty Floyd became Mount Vernon’s all-time leader in victories when he earned win No. 148 at home on senior night Jan. 25. The 170-pound Floyd surpassed Tony Martinez’s record of 147, set in 2003.

Column: "Progression"

There’s a word – in a medical context, anyway, that you don’t hear every day. And if you’re a stage IV lung cancer survivor – like me, 35 months post-diagnosis, it’s hardly the word you ever want to hear – or see – describing the most recent CT Scan of your lungs (Mediastinum) where your malignant tumors have been in "partial stable remission" going on two-plus years now. "Progression" means growth. Growth means the relative calm under which you’ve existed for the last few years is officially over.