Stories for June 2012

Stories for June 2012


Saturday, June 30

Tease photo

Severe Storms Rock Region; 1.5 Million Homes Without Power

Virginia Governor announces State of Emergency.

Following the aftermath of last night's surprise thunderstorms, many local residents woke up to significant amount of damage. Fallen trees and branches were spread across the area, and power outages were abundant.

Friday, June 29

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Classifieds and Employments ads!

Thursday, June 28

Realtors Launch ‘Ask Me!’ Campaign

Association points towards positive trends in region’s real estate market.

Realtors say there is room for hope in the northern Virginia real estate. Due to an increase in demand, the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors launched its "Ask Me!" campaign to help educate both consumers and agents about the positive trends in the region's real estate market.

Tease photo

Looking for a Hug? Look No Further

Hugging Saint to embrace 5,000 individuals in Alexandria.

Some people are huggers, some are not. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, also known as Amma, is definitely the former. With over 30 million hugs and counting, she is known as the "hugging saint."

Wednesday, June 27

Obituary: Catharine Sexton Eckhof

Catharine Sexton Eckhof died June 24, 2012 with family by her side.

Construction Boom In Route 1 Corridor

Area watches Fort Belvoir expansion, construction of the National Library for the Study of George Washington.

The Fort Belvoir or Mount Vernon Estate construction projects alone would be enough to impact area traffic and the character of Mount Vernon.

Column: A GAP In My Thinking

Recently, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to buy a new car (in this instance, “new” means different, not a current model year). Estimated repairs at 137,000 miles that could have escalated into the unknown – and unaffordable – thousands compelled me to fish so I wouldn’t have my bait cut (and I don’t even like to fish).

Tuesday, June 26

Tease photo

Over the Edge

Rappellers raise $60,000 for Special Olympics.

Rose Pleskow is not one to shy away from a challenge. The 23-year-old Reston resident competed in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, last summer, earned multiple medals in the 2012 Virginia Special Olympic Summer Games and recently competed in an 800-meter race in the waters around the Cayman Islands.

Editorial: Case Closed. Why the Secrecy?

No reason for police to exercise "blanket" approach, shielding every document in every case.

Connection readers know that we respect and appreciate our public safety professionals.

Monday, June 25

Tease photo

Scouts Adopt a Block

Boy Scout Troop 301, chartered by St. Mary’s Catholic Church, kicked off its participation in the City of Alexandria’s Adopt-a-Block Litter Program on June 11.

School Notes: Mount Vernon- 2/20/12

Mount Vernon School Notes.

Fort Hunt Park Meeting Set

George Washington Memorial Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service, is conducting public scoping on three new alternative concepts for the Fort Hunt Park Site Development Plan Environmental Assessment/Assessment of Effect.

Tease photo

Army Strong Week

Just retired Army Col. Mark Moffatt is recognized by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors during its June 5 meeting for his contributions to Fairfax County during six years of work as the Deputy Garrison Commander for Transition and BRAC, during which the U.S. Army moved 19,300 positions to Fort Belvoir.

A Year Later: No Decision on Police Oversight

Police Chief supports designating internal auditor to investigate citizen allegations of police misconduct.

Since March 29, 2011 when the Board of Supervisors received the former County Executives’ recommendation, there’s been no final decision on whether or not to establish an independent review process for the police department.

How Does Fairfax County Compare on Police Oversight?

A survey of what other cities and counties and their police departments are doing to promote transparency and accountability of police operations.

The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement supports member cities and counties with citizen police oversight functions.

Tease photo

Getting Books into Homes

Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology kindergarten students’ selection of a new book to take home for their own personal library served as the “kick off” for the new “Books in Alexandria Kids’ Homes” initiative.

SoberRide Returns for July 4

In response to Independence Day being a U.S. holiday when nearly 40-percent of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related, a nonprofit group will be offering free cab rides to would-be drunk drivers throughout the Washington-metropolitan area this Fourth of July.

Tease photo

McDonald’s Celebrates Redesign with Grand Reopening

Event features food and giveaways

The McDonald’s at 1000 North Henry Street had a grand reopening Friday, June 15 to celebrate its redesign.

Tease photo

Mount Vernon Grads Move On

Mount Vernon High School Graduation 2012.

Tease photo

West Potomac Seniors Say Farewell

Graduation 2012

West Potomac 2012 Seniors Graduate.

Letters to the Editor

‘Irreplaceable Wetland’

Thoughts on Dyke Marsh.

Tease photo

Letter: Can’t Return To the Past

Thoughts on restoring the Potomac River.

Tease photo

Scholarships for JROTC Cadets

At the May 16 Dinner Meeting of the Mount Vernon Chapter, Military Officers Association of America held at Fort Belvoir, five JROTC cadets of local high schools each received a $2,000 scholarship.

Letter: What Sets Dyke Marsh Apart

his letter is an effort to clarify a few points about Dyke Marsh.

Making a Prom Dream Come True for Chronically Ill

West Potomac student coordinates a No Worries Now Prom.

Four days before her June 15 graduation from West Potomac High School, Sara Sanders was at the Washington D.C. No Worries Now Prom that she coordinated with the help of local donations and volunteers.

Tease photo

Even in Closed Cases, Police Maintain Culture of Secrecy

Public must rely on information police agencies choose to share, even if it's wrong.

In December of 2008, the Fairfax Police Department chased 19-year-old Hailu Brook across the county line into Arlington and shot him dead.

Thursday, June 21

Fairfax Board Objects to Governor’s Transit Funding Game

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors signed a regional letter to Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton on Tuesday, June 19, objecting to the administration’s attempt to circumvent the efficient transit funding system used successfully in Northern Virginia for decades.

Tease photo

17 Year Old's Political Career Shows Persistence

Evan Draim's efforts allowed him to win a delegate position in this year's Republican National Convention

While most 17 year olds were getting ready for prom or playing a varsity sport, Evan Draim was making phone calls, shaking hands, and giving speeches. That was because throughout spring, Draim was a campaigning to win one of the three delegate positions in Virginia's 8th congressional districts. "I wanted to show that the Republican party is interested in younger voters and is interested in the issues that they care about," said Draim about his interest in Republican politics.

Classified Advertising

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

Tease photo

Mount Vernon Sports Briefs: WPHS DB Wilson Signs with Sacred Heart

TaMaric Wilson, a 2012 graduate of West Potomac High School and a former defensive back on the school’s football team, has signed a letter of intent to play at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., in the fall.

Wednesday, June 20

Column: Where To Begin?

I realize this admission may sound weird, but having cancer is boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m lucky to be alive, and quite happy about it, too. But waiting for the other shoe to drop, i.e. some bad cancer news to appear (lab work, scan, advisory from my oncologist), is tiresome because it’s always so worrisome.

Tease photo

First County Shelter Becoming ‘Residences at Mondloch’

Mondloch House undergoes renovation, will include 20 affordable housing units.

Fairfax County’s focus on ending homelessness took a step forward this month when the county began renovating its first ever homeless shelter - Mondloch House - to increase housing opportunities for single adults.

Tuesday, June 19

Tease photo

Making the Most of Summer

Advice for planning warm weather activities for children.

"I’m bored, there’s nothing to do," is a phrase often uttered by children during the summer. The end of the school year leaves many parents scrambling for activities to keep their young ones active and stimulated. Experts say it is important to plan activities to keep children safe and out of trouble.

Editorial: Summer Projects

Reader input needed for community guides, Pet Connection.

The summer is in full swing at the Connection, with many interns and staff members focused on some light and some more serious summer projects.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: May, 2012

wIn May 2012, 131 homes sold between $965,000-$97,500 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales in May, 2012

Friday, June 15

Tease photo

Father's Day Photo Gallery 2012

We asked our readers to send in pictures in honor of Father's Day on Sunday, June 17. Here are their submissions.

Thursday, June 14

8 Year Old's 9-1-1 Call Saves Mother's Life

Second grader Katie Lee commended by county.

Stratford Landing Elementary School staff and students gathered for an assembly June 6 to honor 8-year-old Katie Lee whose quick response saved her mother’s life.

Tease photo

Mount Vernon Hosts Inaugural Mini-Majors Football Camp

On June 5-7, Mount Vernon High School hosted the inaugural Mini-Majors Football Camp.

Tease photo

West Potomac Softball Ends Season in Region Semifinals

Wolverines must replace standouts Maniglia, Picini, McHugh.

The West Potomac softball team’s 2012 season ended with an emotional pair of postseason contests.

Majors’ Season Ends in PK Shootout

In a year that included the program’s first No. 1 seed in the district tournament and first district title since 2005, Mount Vernon’s season came to an end on penalty kicks.

Tease photo

Supervisor McKay Launches Effort to Explain County Budget Process

Effort could create interactive online guide and new chapter in citizens' handbook.

Lee District Supervisor is frustrated. Every year, he hears from parents who want him to do something about funding full-day Kindergarten.

Wednesday, June 13

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment, Classified and Home and Garden Ads!

Tease photo

Media/Communications Partner, Connection Newspapers

The Connection was nominated by Dean Klein, executive director of the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, and the award springs from the Nov. 13 special edition coverage about the complex challenges of the homeless in Fairfax.

Tease photo

Community Partner of the Year, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)

There were two finalists for Community Partner of the Year, the Fort Belvoir chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association partnered with Fort Belvoir Elementary School and the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra partnered with Instructional Services Department.

Tease photo

Blue Ribbon Outstanding Event Award

Blue Ribbon Outstanding Event Award, given for the Library READesign at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School and partners Heart of America Foundation, Capital One, Lightspeed Technologies, AVD, ltd.

Editorial: Partnerships That Make a Difference

Strategic partnerships with businesses, community organizations, benefit public good and fill gaps since government cannot do it all.

A few weeks ago, the Connection was lucky enough to be included in a group of Fairfax County organizations honored for their efforts in giving back to the community.

Staving Off Mosquitoes

Chemical-free methods for controlling backyard pests.

Nothing spoils a backyard barbecue like a swarm of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. How does one keep bugs at bay without harsh chemicals? Local experts offer tips.

Tease photo

Trends in Landscape Design

Local tastemakers offer suggestions for making the most of backyard space.

Whether creating a tapestry of bold colors, a sanctuary to escape stress or simply a low maintenance landscape, local designers say taking a backyard from dull to dazzling is easier than one might think, and offer insight into hottest landscape elements as well as trends in sustainable design.

Column: Apparent, Now More Than Ever

I last celebrated my father’s day six years ago, in 2006. Six months later, in early December, he finally succumbed to that which had been ailing him: old age for sure, the effects of two strokes for certain and the realization that it was, as we like to say in our family: “Enough already.”

Tease photo

The Father Factor

Fairfax County’s "Fathers In Touch" program teaches men how to be fathers.

Calvin Robertson slams his fist down on the table and barks instructions to the 11 fathers seated around the table at the South Gate Community Center in Reston.

Friday, June 8

Letter to the Editor: Increase Natural Lighting

To the Editor: I am a graduate of Carl Sandburg Middle School and still have many friends that go there. I attended the presentation on the plans to renovate Carl Sandburg Middle School, and I was impressed by how much it will be renovated.

Letter to the Editor: What Moran Stands For

To the Editor: As someone who is active in the community and the Democratic candidate for Delegate from Virginia’s 42nd district in last year’s election, I offer my enthusiastic endorsement of Congressman Jim Moran in the Democratic Primary on June 12.

Tease photo

Serving the Muse and the Community

Peter Lattu turns to poetry and volunteering.

How to fill the void after the dog dies: That was the dilemma facing Peter Lattu. For several years, Lattu had taken his border collie on three long walks a day. But many empty hours stretched before the Alexandria resident when the dog was gone. "I needed things to do," said Lattu.

Planning Delays Vote on Dog Park

The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted May 31 to defer a final vote on the proposed Interim Off Leash Dog Park (OLDA) for Westgrove Park until July 19.

Thursday, June 7

Tease photo

Huntington Residents Await Storm Season as They Gear up for November Bond Referendum

Fairfax voters to determine the fate of flood mitigation along Cameron Run.

Everyone in the neighborhood near the Huntington Metro station has a story. Pregnant women rescued by firefighters in rafts. Waste-deep water. Mold. Mildew.

Tease photo

Voters to Determine Republican and Democratic Candidates for House and Senate

Low turnout expected in June 12 primary.

Election officials are expecting an extremely low turnout for the June 12 primary, ranging from 3 percent in Arlington to 15 percent in Alexandria.

Wednesday, June 6

Tease photo

The Power of Touch

Reiki masters credit the practice with promoting healing.

"May I touch you?" asks Marion Werner, a willowy woman with shoulder-length blonde hair. Her hands descend lightly on her patient’s chest.

Editorial: Primary Voting

Statewide primary on Tuesday, June 12.

On Tuesday, June 12, Virginia will hold a statewide Republican primary for U.S. Senate, plus numerous more local primaries for U.S. House of Representatives and localities.

Classified Advertising

Read the latest Employment and Classified Ads!

Column: Haven’t I Learned Anything?

I’m not going to beat myself up too badly; after all, I do have terminal cancer. However, I am disappointed in my behavior of late, especially as it relates to my status as a still-active (thank God!) cancer patient/survivor undergoing treatment.

Friday, June 1

Weather Alert: Fairfax County, Entire National Capital Area (Friday, June 1, 2012)

Severe Weather to Impact Area; Tornado Watch Until 9 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 9 p.m. for Fairfax County and the entire National Capital Area. Thunderstorms, heavy rains, wind, large hail and potential flooding are also expected beginning this afternoon.

A Commitment to Social Justice

Walker discusses her faith as a Unitarian Universalist.

“I consider myself a mystical humanist,” said the Rev. Kate Walker of the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, where she has preached for almost four years. “I put a great deal of faith in the human spirit, intellect and heart, but I am also very open to the depths of mystery and all that I can’t explain. There is a sense of divinity and sacredness in this world that I engage with on a daily basis.”

Calendar for May 31

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.

Tease photo

Torpedo Factory Welcomes Guest Artists for Summer 2012

The Torpedo Factory Art Center announces the Visiting Artists who will be in residence during June, July and August 2012. Now in its third year, the goal of the Visiting Artist Program is to expose the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s visitors and patrons to a rotating group of accomplished artists and provide a unique opportunity to interact, explore and exchange ideas. The Visiting Artists will be working in studios throughout the 76,000-square-foot art center and will be actively involved in art enrichment events throughout the summer months in which they will demonstrate and discuss their work.

Taste of Del Ray is Sunday, June 3

Hell’s Kitchen Winner to Judge 4th Annual Taste of Del Ray

Mark your calendars, clean your palates and prepare for the fourth annual Taste of Del Ray, sponsored by the Del Ray Business Association. The event will take place on Sunday, June 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. This year’s celebrity chef is Rock Harper — winner of Season 3 "Hell’s Kitchen" — the Gordon Ramsey cooking competition on FOX-TV.

Tease photo

Dentists Help UCM Program Participants

Drs. James Geren, Henry Rollins and Zeyad Mady and their entire team at Alexandria Cosmetic Dentistry donated dental services valued at $13,440 on Saturday, May 19, through their Dental Day program for individuals who cannot afford necessary procedures. Twenty-five UCM program participants received treatments that relieved the pain caused by dental issues and helped them smile again. UCM is deeply thankful for the long-time support of Dr. Geren and his associates.

Tease photo

Best in the World In Weird Science

A team of 7 fifth-graders from Stratford Landing Elementary School recently competed at the Odyssey of the World Finals at Iowa State University. The team came in first place for its solution to the NASA-sponsored "Weird Science" problem and came in third place overall. The team, coached by Terri Bell, includes team members Mary Bell, Lukas Brokamp, Nick Greve, Lindsay Johnson, Jenna Mulvihill, Lily Penn and Rhys Shallbetter. More 800 teams from 15 countries participated in this international competition. The team would like to thank the Stratford Landing school community for its support and the many people whose donations made this possible. Special thanks go to the sponsors who donated $500 or more: the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club, WOW Cafe and Wingery and the Stratford Landing PTA.

Tease photo

Crackers Helps with Learning

Woodley Hills Elementary School incorporated a rabbit named Crackers into its curriculum this year. The rabbit is used to reinforce the school's values including hard working, trustworthiness, responsibility and caring. Susan Carlson is the Woodley Hills teacher responsible for Crackers. The children learned about voting as they participated in a contest to choose Crackers' name, each child writing an essay supporting their proposed name. The children learned about rabbits and are allowed to feed him with supervision. The school's Daisy Troop earned a badge by planting a garden filled with foods appropriate for Crackers.

Tease photo

Supporting Arcadia Center

The Garden Club of Waynewood recently donated $500 to Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food. Marjie Morris, president, Garden Club of Waynewood presented the donation to Maureen Moodie, farm director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture at Woodlawn. Presented at the garden club's recent flower show, the donation is part of the Garden Club of Waynewood's 50th anniversary activities and ongoing commitment and service to the community. The Garden Club of Waynewood meets the third Thursday of the month, September to June, at 10:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Plymouth Haven Baptist Church, 8532 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria. Guests and new members are welcome. Contact Katherine Hoffman 703-549-4245.

Tease photo

Memorial Avenue of Flags

More than 400 American flags lined the roadways in the Mount Comfort Cemetery in honor and in memory of the veterans for the 33rd Annual Giovanna McKinney Memorial Avenue of Flags.

Tease photo

WWII Veteran Honors Fellow Comrades on Memorial Day

He moves throughout the cemetery, stopping to pause and remember the men he has come to see before placing a flag at their grave and moving on to the next. For World War II veteran Warden Foley, this Memorial Day ritual began nearly half a century ago as a labor of love and respect for his fellow veterans.

Tease photo

‘Now & Then, 50 Years of Hits, 1962-2012’

The West Potomac High School Choral Groups will be presenting their annual Spring Show in Springbank Auditorium at West Potomac High School on May 31, June 1 and June 2. All shows will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Online tickets are available at

Tease photo

Good Weather for a Car Wash

Boy Scout Troop #1509 held a car wash fundraiser at St. Luke’s Church on Saturday, May 26 to benefit the Scout troop and contribute funds for a summer Maine adventure trip. Adult leaders are, left in uniform, John Dacey and, far right not in uniform, Sylvain Richard.

Police Shoot Resident Brandishing Knife

Fairfax County Police shot a 61-year-old man who confronted them with a knife during the process of attempting to serve him with an arrest warrant for destruction of property. The wounded subject was “noncompliant,” according to the information provided by the police department. The shooting occurred at an apartment in the 5700 block of Old Mill Court on Monday, May 28. Four officers were involved in the incident.

Tease photo

Need for Police Oversight Continues

Coalition reaffirms effort to establish Police Citizens Oversight Board.

Nicholas Beltrante’s effort to gain the support of the Board of Supervisors to create a Police Citizen Oversight Board would be, if his proposal is accepted, similar to the ones formed in other cities and counties in the U.S.

Tease photo

A Commitment to Social Justice

Walker discusses her faith as a Unitarian Universalist.

“I consider myself a mystical humanist,” said the Rev. Kate Walker of the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, where she has preached for almost four years. “I put a great deal of faith in the human spirit, intellect and heart, but I am also very open to the depths of mystery and all that I can’t explain. There is a sense of divinity and sacredness in this world that I engage with on a daily basis.”