Stories for August 2013

Stories for August 2013


Friday, August 30

Column: From Weak to Week

Eight days and seven nights. Not exactly the vacation I was planning. Nevertheless, admitted to the hospital on Friday, August 2nd. Discharged on Friday, August 9th: that was my hospital “staycation.” Though I definitely improved as the post-surgical week went on, the process itself – specifically, nearly four days in S.I.C.U. (Surgical Intensive Care) with round-the-clock monitoring, nursing and doctoring – was hardly restful. In fact, if you read the following prose, you’ll presumably develop an understanding of the cons.

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Every Year Is Election Year in Virginia

Northern Virginia has most two-party races on ballot.

While the Virginia governor’s race is the one getting the most attention, both nationally and in the state, Virginia’s House of Delegates race is shaping up to be the most competitive in a decade. According to an official candidate list released last month by the Virginia State Board of Elections, 57 House seats will be contested this November — marking only the second time in the last decade where at least half of the 100 House seats will have more than one name on the ballot.

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What in the World Does a Supervisor Do, and Why Should We Care?

Local Government 101: Where the rubber meets the road.

We see them at just about every community event. They manage a budget larger than the budgets of four states, and rule over a county with a diverse, well-educated population of more than a million people. The 10 members of the Fairfax County Supervisors have an intense, time-consuming, insanely detailed job, one that comes with enormous power and even more responsibilities. They impact our lives in large and small ways, allocating money and resources in ways that can propel our community forward—or cost us our first-rate status in education, livability and culture. Yet most of us, media included, are so focused on politics at the state and national level that we overlook the decision-makers in our own backyard.

Obsessed With Politics? Fairfax County Welcomes You!

What newcomers need to know to be politically-savvy insiders.

Fairfax County may be physically separated from Washington, D.C.—the ground-zero of All Things Political—but residents here are a politically-savvy bunch. We know who Larry Sabato is—a prominent University of Virginia political analyst—and we pay attention to Not Larry Sabato—a Virginia politics blog by Ben Tribbett, a Fairfax County resident and self-described “vicious campaign insultant.” We follow our politicians on Twitter and Facebook.

Supervisors Give Us Their Best “Insider” Tips

Fairfax County has a fantastic park and library system, with tons of activities to enjoy. One of my personal favorites is the Cardboard Boat Regatta at Lake Accotink Park every summer.

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An Insider's Guide to the Arts in Northern Virginia

A selection of upcoming arts productions, happening right where you live.

There are more artists of every stripe making art in Northern Virginia than you may realize. Populating the bedroom communities, small towns, growing cities and metropolitan areas of Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria are your pick of dance, theatre, choral, symphonic, visual and performance, music and fill-in-the-blank groups. Look beyond Wolf Trap and Jammin' Java to the Torpedo Art Factory, the Workhouse Arts Center, and smaller, quality groups like ArtSpace Herndon and McLean Project for the Arts to cast their creative spell (that's only to name a few). Delve in and, we dare you, let your stereotypes of an artless string of suburbs dissolve. In place you'll get something much better than stereotypes: some culture.

Thursday, August 29

Mount Vernon Home Sales: July, 2013

In July 2013, 124 homes sold between $1,195,000-$76,125 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: July, 2013

Best Educated, Most Diverse

If you are a new resident of Fairfax County, or an employee working for a company new to the county, welcome!

New Superintendent Relishes Opportunity

A fan of Baylor grad RG3 … not Cowboys

Here in Fairfax, not only do we have the talent and the expertise to solve the problems facing us in FCPS, but we are uniquely positioned to solve the most pressing issues facing public schools across the country. -Karen K. Garza, Ph.D., superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools

Chamber Gives Voice to Businesses

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce (Fairfax Chamber), the Voice of Business in Northern Virginia, represents 650 member companies with nearly 500,000 employees throughout the region.

Northern Virginia Senior Olympics

Online registration for the 2013 Northern Virginia Senior Olympics is open Deadline to register online is Aug. 30. The fee is $12. Participants can register online at Events take place Sept. 7-19 at 17 venues throughout Northern Virginia. Call 703-228-4721 for more.


Find a comprehensive online listing of county business resources at

Editorial: About the Connection

As your local, weekly newspaper, the Great Falls Connection’s mission is to bring the local news you need, to gather information about the best things in and near your community, to advocate for community good, to provide a forum for dialogue on local concerns, and to celebrate and record milestones and events in the community and people’s lives.

Classified Advertising August 8, 2013

Read the latest ads here!

Sunday, August 25

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Nebraska Commit Pierson-El Is WPHS’s Big-Play Threat

Wolverines in search of return trip to postseason.

West Potomac opens the 2013 season at home against Centreville.

Thursday, August 22

'Service Above Self'

Peter Knetemann is 86th Rotary Club president.

“Rotary … seems to attract a neat kind of person. Our members are looking beyond themselves and that's what sets us apart.”

Excerpts From King’s ‘I Have a Dream’

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to the March on Washington 50 years ago next week, Aug. 28, 1963.

Excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech: “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

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Shedding Sunshine on the Secret World of Regulation in Virginia

Advisory panel rejects effort to open records of the State Corporation Commission.

Ever wonder what happens during deliberations that regulate payday lending? How about the effort to oversee your health insurance?

Tuesday, August 20

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Resurrecting The Post for a New Era

The Post has two upcoming gigs in Vienna and Alexandria.

Don’t let the minor chords fool you: The Post is made up of happy people. The band, originally started by guitarist Kate Jarosik and singer/pianist Chelsea Bryan during their time at the University of Virginia, took a brief hiatus after graduation but has started up again with some new musicians in Northern Virginia. Fresh off a successful stint through a Battle of the Bands at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, The Post is getting ready for a show there next Wednesday, Aug. 28 and another at St. Elmo’s in Alexandria Sept. 20.

Wednesday, August 14

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Record-Breaking RB Griffith to Carry Load for Majors

Coach Wells pleased with physical linebacker play.

Mount Vernon opens the regular season at South County on Aug. 30.

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Preserving History’s Jewels

Fairfax County considers new “resident curator” program to save historic properties.

“A successful resident curator program would allow the county to restore, maintain and protect important historic properties at little or no cost to the public.” —Cindy Walsh, Fairfax County Park Authority’s Resource Management Division director

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Fairfax County Public Libraries: Version 2.0?

Staff, volunteers urge supervisors to reconsider “disastrous” library reorganization plan that cuts staff and services.

In a world where the Internet has replaced newsprint, e-books have supplanted paperbacks and the latest films stream directly to laptops, how do public libraries compete?

Classified Advertising August 14. 2013

Read the lastest ad here!

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Is Your Home Ready for Back to School?

Local designers offer tips for creating functional and stylish homework spaces.

Summer will soon come to an end, and children everywhere will be heading back to school and coming home with homework. To keep students engaged and excited, some local designers offer suggestions for creating a space so fun and inviting that your children will want to hang out there — even if that means doing homework.

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Outdoor Elegance Meets Cutting Edge Technology

A design/build team explores fine architecture in weather-resistant materials.

If anything in the summer of 2013 points to still evolving homeowner expectations, it may be the frequency with which locals are integrating screen porches, patios, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens into original landscaping schemes that artfully marry the house to its setting.

Geocaching Diversifies

Urbanites embracing new game.

Geocaching usually has been portrayed as someone with hiking boots and a walking staff gazing afar from a hilltop in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not so anymore. Substantial numbers of those joining the sport are placing and hunting for caches in urban settings, and that includes Northern Virginia.

Editorial: Library Mission

Further cuts to library budget must be analyzed for impacts on needy families.

The current proposal to “streamline” services at Fairfax County Public Libraries comes on top of disproportionate, and some would say Draconian, cuts since 2009.

Tuesday, August 13

Editorial: On Federal Dollars in Virginia

State’s role as one of the biggest “takers.”

We received some emails and phone calls about the expansion of Medicaid in response to last week’s editorial.

Thursday, August 8

Beltrante Still Pursuing Justice

Former police detective seeks police oversight board.

D. C. residents and three U.S. Presidents have placed their trust and safety in the hands of Nicholas “Nick” Beltrante for many years before he retired from the D.C. Metro Police in 1963. Now, at 86, the twice-retired Metro D.C. police homicide/robbery detective and private investigator continues to work toward safeguarding the rights of others by proposing to the Board of Supervisors the creation of a Police Citizens Oversight Board which would be charged with investigating citizen complaints, promoting police accountability, and serving as an independent voice for citizens.

Opinion: Issues That Matter

Mental health services discussion gives insight into real differences between candidates.

It came as somewhat of a relief to have the candidates for governor in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D), discuss an actual issue that matters to many Virginia families this week at a forum on mental health issues.

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Will the Next Attorney General Defend Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage?

Republican says he will defend amendment; Democrat is not so sure.

Virginia's next attorney general will have to stand in a courtroom and make a decision about whether or not the commonwealth's constitutional ban on marriage should be defended. Republican candidate Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26) has been clear about his support for the amendment and his intention to provide a vigorous defense of marriage. Democratic candidate Sen. Mark Herring (D-33), on the other hand, has yet to take a position on whether or not he will defend the amendment.

Wednesday, August 7

Computer Clubhouse For Young Techies

Mount Vernon children in underserved areas learn technology skills.

The Computer Clubhouse at Gum Springs Community Center offers about 150 underserved children in the Mount Vernon area the chance to learn cutting-edge software and computer skills, filmmaking, blogging, Podcasts and robotics.

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Costco Prepares For Opening

Mount Vernon store to employ 200-plus and form local partnerships.

The new Costco is opening along Route 1 in Mount Vernon on Thursday, Aug. 8. The 140,000-square-foot warehouse club will employ more than 200 people, which brings the total number of Costco stores to 632 nationwide. Construction crews, vendors, landscapers, and store employees have been working around the clock for 13 weeks preparing for the grand opening, which included a VIP Open House Party on Wednesday evening.

School Notes

Bridget Thompson has been selected to receive a $1,500 college scholarship from the Military Children Program. Thompson took part in various school and community activities including environmental club, cross country, swimming, and band. She plans to attend The College of William and Mary.

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The Median Has No Message

Political signs banished from roadsides as campaign season heats up.

Some people call them flowers of democracy. Others call them weeds of political pollution. Whatever one thinks of the campaign signs and placards that appear along the roads of Fairfax County, expect to see a lot fewer of them. Last month, county officials launched a new program in which nonviolent inmates at the county jail hit the streets four days a week to remove illegal signs. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the message is no longer in the median. Anger and resentment has been rising over the issue of roadside political signs for years, and campaigns frequently go to war with each other to see which side can plant or steal or deface the largest number of placards. Unlike Prince William County, which had an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation that allows the local government to collect the signs and fine violators, Fairfax was caught in a bind. Part of the Virginia code made it illegal for the county to remove the signs in Fairfax County until after an election.

How It’s Done

George Washington erected a stone gristmill in 1771 to increase production of flour and cornmeal and to be able to export high quality flour to the West Indies, England, and Europe. In 1797, Washington's Scottish farm manager James Anderson encouraged him to build a whiskey distillery adjacent to the gristmill. The distillery was the largest in America, producing 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799, making it one of the most successful economic enterprises at Mount Vernon. Demonstrations of the mill are given by millers in early-American attire from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance to the site is included in admission to George Washington's Mount Vernon. Admission to the Distillery & Gristmill is also sold separately for $5 for adults, $2 for youth ages 6-11, and free for children 5 and under.

Letter to the Editor: Refrain from Judgment

Two weeks ago, my letter was published in the Gazette criticizing Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) for the posting on his blog in which he called upon Gov. Robert McDonnell to resign in light of the allegations concerning gifts he received from the CEO of a Virginia company. In my letter, I took no position concerning the morality of the situation, only concentrating on the fact that the investigation was not complete and on the inference that Delegate Surovell's comments were politically partisan in nature.

Letter to the Editor: Pedestrian Unfriendly

Costco seems to have designed its new store at Richmond Highway and Sherwood Hall Lane for somewhere reachable only by auto, with high blank walls facing the street and the building's front facing its parking lot. The entrance is as far as possible from the nearest road. But there's a group of townhouses a hundred feet away, and a dense community with over 100 homes along the back edge of the Costco property. Across Richmond Highway is an apartment community surrounded by the houses of Gum Springs. I would guess that there are several thousand people living within easy walking distance of the store.

Tuesday, August 6

New County Police Chief Named

Supervisors appoint Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr.

Effective Tuesday morning Aug. 6, a Centreville resident, Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., became Fairfax County’s new chief of police. He was appointed July 30 by the county Board of Supervisors.

Friday, August 2

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Mount Vernon Graduate Belanger to Play Goalie at American

Belanger helped Mount Vernon win the 2013 state championship team.

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Candidates Agree on Amendment for Voting Rights, Disagree on Executive Order

Restoration of civil rights on the agenda for next governor.

Should nonviolent felons have their right to vote automatically restored? What exactly is a nonviolent felony? What kind of process can be considered automatic?

Thursday, August 1

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Opportunity Neighborhood

Organization celebrates first anniversary with bus tour.

Opportunity Neighborhood, a group that helps children succeed in school and life, celebrated its first anniversary with an 11-stop bus tour targeting Mount Vernon schools and neighborhoods along Route 1. The tour highlighted the areas that are served by the organization which supports young people from “cradle to college to career.” The tour started at the South County Government Center, which houses Human Services agencies in Fairfax County.

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Classes Offer Liquified-Fun

Mount Vernon RECenter offers 13 water aerobics classes.

For people with joint or arthritis problems, the gentle resistance that water aerobics provides is the perfect remedy for fun and exercise.

Editorial: Protect Children, Animals in Hot Summer Weather

In light of recent incidents around the region, Fairfax County is reminding people of dangers involving children and hot cars. The combination of summer heat and humidity can mean life-threatening conditions for children left in vehicles or other unsuitable environments, even for short time periods. Here’s advice from the Kids and Cars organization:

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Obituary: Claude 'Buzzie' Harris

Rotarian, former Little League commissioner dies at 81.

It was 1957 when Claude “Buzzie” Harris first laid eyes on Nancy Cooper at a party at George Washington University.

Editorial: Identity Tips

Review Credit Reports and Avoid Ripoffs

Fairfax County police offer the following tips regarding identity theft and fraud: * Review credit reports annually; Experian: Fraud/credit history, 888-397-3742; Trans Union: Fraud, 800-680-7289; Credit history, 800-888-4213; Equifax: Fraud, 800-525-6285; Credit report, 800-685-1111. Go to * Opt out of receiving pre-approved, credit-card applications by calling 888-567-8688. * Monitor credit cards and bank accounts online for early fraud detection. * Don’t mail bills from home; use electronic banking, if possible. * Victims of identity theft should get a police report and secure a seven-year fraud alert or a credit freeze. * People 70 and older should contact the credit bureaus and obtain a credit freeze, even if they’re not currently identity-theft victims. * Never wire money to strangers online; these requests are scams.

Opinion: Enjoy Tax Holiday, Donate School Supplies

Good timing to help those in need.

It is debatable whether recurring tax holidays for different seasonal needs are good policy. But since this weekend is Virginia’s tax holiday on school supplies and clothing, it makes sense to take advantage of the savings, and to spread the wealth around. The savings are more significant this year with the new sales tax increases in effect as of July 1.

Commentary: Update on Route 1 Transit Study

The Route 1 Transit Study is necessary to obtain long-term federal funding for much needed enhanced mass transit services to the Route 1 corridor. This study will evaluate alternative modes of transit to include ferries, bus rapid transit, light rail and perhaps the expansion of metro eventually.

People Notes

Elizabeth Rives, daughter of John and Betsy Rives of Mount Vernon, has been chosen as a state finalist in the National American Miss Virginia Pageant. Elizabeth will be participating in the Junior Teen 13 – 15 age division, at the Hyatt Regency Reston hotel in Reston on July 29, along with other young women from across Virginia. The winner of the pageant will receive a $1,000 cash award, the official crown and banner, a bouquet of roses, and air transportation to compete in the National Pageant in California where she will receive a complimentary tour of Hollywood and two V.I.P. tickets to Disneyland. Elizabeth, 14, will be a freshman at Bishop Ireton High School this fall. She is active in her school and community, including being a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and participating in many sports, music, and theater programs. Sponsors for her pageant bid include McGinley, Elsberg & Hutcheson P.L.C., Mount Vernon Athletic Club, Chevys Fresh Mex and Topsy Social Analytics.

Letter to the Editor: Moral and Ethical Issue

A Letter to the Editor in the Mount Vernon Gazette (July 18 – “Investigation Not Complete”) strongly criticized Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) for his comments on his blog calling for the resignation of Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Mount Vernon Bulletin

Genealogical Society Meeting. 1 p.m. at Hollin Hall Senior Center, 1500 Shenandoah Road. The meeting will take place in room 112 and will feature a presentation by Christine Rose entitled “Bounty Land Records to Help Solve that Problem.” Call 703-866-2478 or visit

Letter: Ideological, Not Dietary

A letter in last week's Gazette from dietitian Hope Warshaw supported Delegate Surovell's recent call for Governor McDonnell's resignation. Ms. Warshaw claimed that her position was solely based upon her opposition to the use of a dietary supplement promoted by the person involved in gift-giving to Governor and Mrs. McDonnell that forms the basis for Delegate Surovell's resignation request.

Letter to the Editor: ‘Induced Demand’

The Gazette published Phillip Boughton's letter on July 24, in which he advocated easy solutions to the congestion on Route 1. In essence, he advocated making Route 1 eight lanes wide from the Beltway to Fort Belvoir.

Letter to the Editor: Missing Hardison

We have lost a real advocate for keeping our youth safe and drug free. Cliff Hardison was a member of the board of directors for the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, and he was committed to working with youth and the community in efforts to discourage and prevent underage alcohol and binge drinking, and marijuana and prescription drug abuse. His West Potomac High School was among the first to have students join our UPC Youth Council, and his leadership and support will be greatly missed. Our UPC board will be considering an appropriate way to honor Cliff’s memory.

Letter to the Editor: Reunion’s Success

The Fort Hunt High School Alumni Association is extremely proud of our alumni, former teachers and administrators and parents for their enthusiastic participation in the school's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Two solid years of planning ensured a great event, but luck had something to do with it as well. Our 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. event had a thunderstorm at 5:12 p.m., after most had left. The success of the three-day, 10 location event is the result of dozens of volunteers and their hard work. Special thanks go to Terry Alers, Patti Miller, Harriet Singleton, Lisa McDonald, Tom Harvey, Jocelyn Folsom, Jim Erb, Jim Carmalt, Bob Suggs, John Harris and dozens of other volunteers and sponsors. The Fort Hunt High School Alumni Association

Editorial: Enjoy Tax Holiday, Donate School Supplies

Good timing to help those in need.

It is debatable whether recurring tax holidays for different seasonal needs are good policy. But since this weekend is Virginia’s tax holiday on school supplies and clothing, it makes sense to take advantage of the savings, and to spread the wealth around. The savings are more significant this year with the new sales tax increases in effect as of July 1.