Stories for September 2013

Stories for September 2013


Friday, September 27

Commentary: In Search of Affordable Housing

Challenges for Residential Studio Units and the need to address them.

Fairfax County’s Planning Commission will hold two workshops on Wednesday, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 to expand the discussion about the proposed residential studio unit (RSU) amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. There will be a staff presentation on Sept. 25, and questions submitted online by citizens to the Planning Department will be answered in the second workshop on Oct 2. The plan is for both workshops to be televised on the county’s cable station.

Thursday, September 26

Editorial: Vote

It will matter who is elected governor.

To vote on Election Day, you must be registered at your current address no later than Oct. 15, 2013. You can check your registration status online by visiting the State Board of Elections website at There you can also download a voter registration form and mail or fax it to your elections office address.

Column: A Study in Contrasts

The decision for yours truly to participate in a Phase 1 Study at N.I.H. or Johns Hopkins (depending upon availability and qualifications) discussed in last week’s column has been put on hold, temporarily. It seems that my oncologist was thinking about me over the holiday weekend and called me on Wednesday following Labor Day to say he had a diagnostic idea concerning me: a 24-hour urine collection (a “Creatinine Clearance Study”) which would provide a more accurate reading (than the regular lab work I have; from blood) of my kidney function.

Column: A Peculiar Existence

I’m not exactly pretending that I don’t have stage IV lung cancer (non-small cell, to be specific), but ever since my hospital admission on August 2nd, I have been treatment-free; no I.V. chemotherapy, no oral medication, no targeted treatment, no nothing. And during this sabbatical (I use that term loosely; being off chemotherapy has been as much about recovering from surgery and recuperating from my hospital “stay-cation” as it was anything necessarily intended), I have progressed from feeling crappy and being short of breath—while being infused previously, to where I have become relatively asymptomatic, breathing normally and for the nearly eight week treatment-free interval mentioned, have felt mostly OK.

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Late Goals Propel Woodson Field Hockey to Victory

West Potomac goalkeeper Hauptle plays well in defeat.

Cavaliers score three times in the final 2:35 against West Potomac.

Residential Studios Put on Hold

Supervisors establish committee, plan additional public outreach.

At the recommendation of Chairman Sharon Bulova (D-At-Large) and Supervisor Michael Frey (R-Sully), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 24 deferred its Nov. 20 public hearing on a proposed residential studios (RSUs) amendment to conduct additional community outreach. The board also established a Planning Commission Residential Studios Committee.

Northern Virginia Supports Day to Serve

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), a coalition of 14 counties, cities and towns that work together on regional issues, passed a unanimous resolution endorsing Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s call to participate in the 2013 Day to Serve.

New Nosy Recruits ‘Bolt & Silas’ Prepare for Duty

Although they are just a few months old and still in their bonding and training phases, two new bloodhound pups are preparing for the rigors of police work in Fairfax County. Bolt and Silas are the police department’s newest additions to their bloodhound team. The agency purchased the pups in August when they were just 6 weeks old. They join Shnoz and Cody, sisters from the hills of Northern Alabama who joined the agency in 2008 at 19 months old.

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McAuliffe, Cuccinelli Highlight Small Business Summit

Gubernatorial candidates speak at the Mason Inn & Conference Center.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli were the keynote speakers at the fourth annual Virginia Small Business Partnership (VASBP) Summit, hosted by Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies LLC at The Mason Inn in Fairfax on Friday, Sept. 20. “We are thrilled to have them join us,” said Paul A. Miller, chairman of the VASBP.

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Wear Jeans to Work, Help End Homelessness

Register now to participate in Jeans Day Fairfax on Oct. 18.

Just by wearing jeans to work, you can actively help nearly 3,000 men, women and children in Fairfax County who face homelessness and hunger every day. On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Friday, Oct. 18 “Jeans Day Fairfax,” the third annual Jeans Day event in Fairfax County.

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Half of Fairfax Schools Accredited with Warning are in Mount Vernon Area

Students up and down the Route 1 corridor struggle to meet minimum standards in science.

Poor and Latino students clustered along the Route 1 corridor are struggling to keep up with standardized test scores, according to a report issued last week by the Virginia Department of Education.

Tuesday, September 24

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Full Disclosure? Forms Plagued By Lack of Information, Absence of Oversight

Fairfax County goes so far as to redact disclosure documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent.

Thursday, September 19

Mount Vernon Home Sales: August, 2013

In August 2013, 140 homes sold between $1,195,000-$76,125 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: August, 2013

Editorial: Addressing Virginia’s Economy

Ending gridlock in Congress and supporting health care reform would be huge steps in supporting economic recovery in Virginia.

The strength of Virginia’s economy, especially Northern Virginia’s economy, comes significantly from federal spending. So while the governor and other elected officials claim that Virginia’s success is because Virginia is a low-tax state with fewer regulations, it’s worth considering that the sequester and continuing gridlock in Congress threaten Virginia’s most important resource, federal spending.

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Navy Yard Shootings Hit Close to Home

Four Fairfax County victims killed in Washington Navy Yard rampage.

“Marty was a kind and caring man. He had such a sweet spirit and was in every way a man that lived his life to honor Christ.” —Pastor Steve Holley of Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield

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Local Business Leaders Spotlight Opportunities for UK Companies

Fairfax County EDA organizes Sept. 26 seminar in London.

Fairfax County’s Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) officials announced Tuesday, Sept. 17, that local executives will speak at a London seminar to spotlight opportunities for British companies interested in homeland security business opportunities in the United States.

Full Disclosure?

Forms plagued by a lack of information, absence of oversight; redacted documents.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is in hot water for taking gifts without disclosing them, and legislators are talking about increasing disclosure requirements for family members. But here in Northern Virginia, personal financial disclosure forms are often incomplete and inconsistent. Some elected officials choose to disclose a great deal of information while others disclose very little. Fairfax County officials have decided to redact information that's supposed to be part of the public record. And nobody is reviewing the forms to make sure they are accurate.

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Art Matters for All Ages

Local experts say art classes help children develop new skills.

If you walk into Art at the Center in Mount Vernon on a Tuesday morning, you might find a group of preschool students and their parents or caretakers squishing potting clay with their fingers. In the same room, several other tots could be brushing an array of paint colors across art paper, making a mess but having fun. The children are part of the Center’s Art Explorers class, designed for children ranging from 18 months to 5 years old.

Classified Advertising Sept. 18, 2013

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Tuesday, September 17

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A New Beginning for Fairfax County Public Libraries?

Library trustees vote to discard beta plan in favor of more public outreach sessions.

On Wall Street, a “beta” test refers to assessing the risk, volatility and expected return of a particular portfolio. If Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) officials had a crystal ball to assess the volatility of its planned beta tests this fall, it’s likely they may have steered clear of the project that became a quagmire of epic proportions.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

County suspends discarding of library books.

Just when Sam Clay, Fairfax County’s Public Library director, thought FCPL’s public image couldn’t get any worse, Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) released photos of bins filled to the brim with discarded library books.

Letter: Joining Forces to Prevent Homelessness

You can prevent homelessness, you can end chronic homelessness, you can move people rapidly out of homelessness. What you cannot do is stand aside and let people fall. This simple belief—that together we can change the rate and severity of people losing their homes—brings together nonprofits, for-profits, civic leaders and government staff. We each play a special role, depending on our location and mission. For United Community Ministries (UCM), prevention is the key.

Monday, September 16

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Gros To Lead Glasgow Middle School

Doctoral candidate to mentor most ethnically diverse school in Alexandria.

On July 1, Penny Gros, 43, of Burke was named the new principal of Glasgow Middle School, an ethnically diverse school in Alexandria. It’s the best fit for the Spanish-speaking doctoral candidate in her 19th year in education. “This school is a perfect fit for my background, experience and passions,” she said. As a true melting pot, Glasgow Middle has 1551 students enrolled who were born in 65 different countries and speak 57 languages — Urdu, Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, among others. The school demographics are: 46 percent Hispanic, 24 percent White, 15 percent Asian, 11 percent Black, 31 percent ESOL. There are 16 percent of students in the Level 4/Advanced Academics program and 10 percent in the AVID program. And 75 percent of the students are on the free/reduced lunch program. In terms of student counts, Glasgow has 579 in sixth grade, 480 in seventh grade and 492 in eighth grade.

Aldersgate Prepares Annual Fundraising Golf Outing

Event to benefit variety of charities.

Elizabeth King, 12, is setting her sights high for her first-ever golf tournament. “I’ve never done this before. My one hope is that I get a hole in one,” she said. Elizabeth and her family are among those who have signed up for the Aldersgate United Methodist Men’s 5th Annual Golf Outing. The event will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Joint Base Andrews’ West Course. “She’s been wanting to go out and play and this is a great way to do it,” said her father, Bob King. King has been playing in the tournament since it first began. When his son David, 15, became old enough, he joined his dad on the course. Now, Elizabeth will do the same. All three are planning to head out for a day together on the golf course. The family said the event is a great way to spend time together, playing a sport they enjoy in a noncompetitive environment.

Column: An Aside

My wife and I live just a few blocks from George Washington's Mount Vernon home, on land that was once part of his estate. Most mornings, we go out onto the back porch, overlooking beautiful woods, and read the daily newspaper.

Friday, September 13

Column: Now This is What

Do nothing (no more treatment) and live life to the fullest (for as long as I’m able, and right now, I’m extremely able); start another chemotherapy protocol – with an I.V. chemotherapy drug which, according to my oncologist, has not been proven in any clinical setting to be better than the patient doing nothing; or, try to get into a Study (Phase 1, 2 or 3) at either N.I.H. (National Institutes of Health) or Johns Hopkins (in Baltimore) and let the treatment chips fall wherever experimental/research medicine takes them. This is what my oncologist discussed with Team Lourie at my most recent appointment, my first appointment with him since my hospitalization and subsequent release.

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NVAR Summit at GMU’s Mason Inn

Complex shortage of homes for sale likely to persist; boomers not planning to retire, not planning to move, experts say. Rising mortgage rates should inspire renters to buy soon.

Nationally syndicated columnist and moderator Kenneth R. Harney introduced the expert panel for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) 17th annual Economic Summit Thursday morning, Sept. 5. Dr. David Crowe, chief economist and senior vice president of the National Association of Home Builders, joined economic experts David E. Versel, a senior research associate at the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, and Dr. Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Condo Renovations

As sales of condominiums grow, so does demand for luxury renovations.

More people are moving from leafy, sprawling suburbs to more urban areas, neighborhoods both in the city and in Northern Virginia that offer close proximity to restaurants, jobs, cultural activities and Metro.

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Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Local designers offer ideas for decorating small rooms.

Whether one is sprucing up a small powder room or decorating a studio apartment, space limitations often pose a design challenge. However, local designers say that no matter how a small space’s square footage or how awkward the layout, there are plenty of decorative cures for small spaces. Whether one is sprucing up a small powder room or decorating a studio apartment, space limitations often pose a design challenge. However, local designers say that no matter how a small space’s square footage or how awkward the layout, there are plenty of decorative cures for small spaces.

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Top-to-Bottom Makeover Embraces Longterm Horizons

The Hollis family wanted a house that would work better today — and long into the future.

Sometimes it’s not limited square footage that makes a house feel inadequate — it’s how that square footage is configured.

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Like Magic

New plan in built-out 1940s colonial gains vital square footage as young family looks ahead.

In the end, a skillful spatial reconfiguration is like a deft magician's trick — you've seen it with your own eyes, but you still can't figure out how they did it. “Really, I don't know how this plan created so much more usable space,” Alexandria resident Alice Goulet said, discussing a recent reconfiguration to several rooms in the family's 1,800-square-foot center-hall Colonial.

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Northern Virginia Designers Awarded Rooms in Showhouse Event

Northern Virginia/metro area interior designers Kelley Proxmire of Kelley Interior Design and Wayne Breeden of E. Wayne Breeden Design are among 17 designers awarded rooms at the benefit Winchester Showhouse & Gardens, open to the public through Sept. 29.

Sun Design Named One of U.S.’s Fastest Growing Private Companies

Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, Inc., of Fairfax, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies. This is the fourth time the magazine has included Sun Design on its annual Inc. 5000 list.

Thursday, September 12

Editorial: Small Steps to Fight Homelessness

Efficiency apartments would serve 20-somethings, service workers, retirees and more.

One way to prevent homelessness is to think small. It doesn’t take much space to house one person. Sure, many houses in our area have 1,000 square feet and sometimes two or three times that much per person, but that’s really not necessary.

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Celebrating Diversity Through Music

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) will be presenting bilingual master classes and outreach presentations at various Fairfax County venues.

With grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts Council of Fairfax County, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) will be presenting bi-lingual master classes and outreach presentations at various Fairfax County venues in the coming weeks.

Classified Advertising September 11, 2013

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Wednesday, September 11

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Remembering Those Who Serve

First Lady marks Patriot Day at Fort Belvoir.

First Lady Michelle Obama marked the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with a visit to the new USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir.

Thursday, September 5

Opinion: Dangers of Failure To Act

Our current and future standing in the international community is on the line.

President Obama has sought Congressional approval to carry out limited surgical strikes in Syria against the regime of Bashar al Assad in response to his use of chemical weapons to attack Syrian civilians, which killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

Editorial: Later Start Times for High School

It’s past time to act; let this year be the year.

Tuesday morning, Sept. 3, the first day of school in Fairfax County, Dr. Karen Garza began her official day at 6:30 a.m. at Chantilly High School. While Garza was making herself available for interviews before the first class started at 7:20 a.m., many students were already on the school bus.

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Wellbeing: How To Set Realistic Goals

Local experts say the key to success is setting achievable goals.

Laura Wheeler Poms, of Fairfax, set out to earn a doctorate degree and make a career change. As a wife, mother and working professional, the goal, she said, often felt lofty. “Writing my dissertation at times felt overwhelming, especially if I looked at it as one huge project,” said Poms, who now holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology and is an assistant professor of global and community health at George Mason University in Fairfax. “I set goals like writing one page or doing one analysis each day and I was able to get it done. I also gave myself little rewards along the way.”

Column: Indeterminate Sentence

And no, that’s not another made-up phrase by yours truly describing my occasionally cluttered/run-on prose with which many of you extremely patient regular readers are all too familiar. No, it has to do with how I perceive my future now that I’m post-hospital and sleeping in my own bed. Instead of nurses, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, doctors and miscellaneous other hospital staff too numerous to list, I have one wife and five cats to do my bidding. And though they’re not nearly as attentive as the hospital staff, I know that they all have my best interests at heart.

Saving Jobs in Hard Times

Virginia lawmakers will push work sharing legislation this session.

“Having been through the recession and recent slight increases in Virginia unemployment rates as federal sequestration takes effect, it is important that we give Virginia businesses all the tools we can to help them and their employees get through challenging times. This bill does that.” —State Sen. George Barker (D-39)

‘Shared Work:’ A Win-Win-Win Solution

Preventing layoffs, maintaining the well-being of employees and their communities and keeping businesses competitive.

How do we mitigate the devastating effects of layoffs on employees, employers and their communities? Is there a "win-win-win" solution?

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Battle for Transparency at State Corporation Commission Moves Online

Agency makes official request to remove information from Wikipedia page.

The battle lines in the war over transparency at the Virginia State Corporation Commission have shifted from the committee room to the Internet.

Wednesday, September 4

Nebraska Commit Pierson-El to Play QB for West Potomac

Wolverines open season with 51-7 loss to Centreville.

West Potomac will travel to face Fairfax on Friday.

Classified Advertising Sept. 4, 2013

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