Stories for October 2014

Stories for October 2014


Thursday, October 30

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Police, Fire, and EMTs Recognized at Community Tribute

“These are the people who run towards danger when the rest of us run away,” said Sharon Bulova, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at the seventh annual Police & Firefighters Tribute sponsored by Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce where 21 personnel were honored.

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Firefighters Distribute 2,500 Pairs of Shoes

Seeing is believing for Nicholas Chakos and his family, who made the drive from Pittsburgh to Alexandria to help provide 2,500 pair of shoes to children in need as part of the Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue coat and shoe distribution Oct. 28 at Penn Daw Fire Station 11.

City Suspends Ticketing of ‘For Sale’ Cars

Cars displaying for “For Sale” signs on Alexandria public streets will no longer be ticketed.

Severance Trial Set for October 2015

The murder trial of Charles Severance has been set for Oct 5., 2015.

Accreditation: A Mixed Bag


The Virginia Department of Education has issued accreditation reports on our public schools. For our area, the results are mixed.

The Never Never Bond

The British call credit card charges the “Never Never.” That is the attitude of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors (the BOS) with the current $100 million bond issue on the ballot.

A Better Tribute?

This is in response to H. Jay Spiegel’s letter in the October 23, 2014, issue of the Mount Vernon Gazette.

The Dysfunction In the Senate

(and why we need Ed Gillespie for Virginia)

The Senate Majority Leader Mister Reid is a master of the partisan deed.

Bylaw Maneuvers

Last week the MVCCA conducted a special council meeting to consider proposed changes to their bylaws.

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High Schools to Start Later Next Year

School Board approves later start times.

Phyllis Payne has been fighting for more sleep for a decade. On Oct. 23, it all paid off. The co-founder of Start Later for Excellence in Education Proposal - or SLEEP - saw the Fairfax County Public School Board approve to move high school start times ahead by 30 minutes, 11-1.

Fairfax County Calendar

Your guide to entertainment in Fairfax County.

For those looking to fill their calendar with some home-brewed, Fairfax County fun stuff (read: entertainment and diversion), The Connection's Fairfax County Entertainment Calendar has many options: weekend jaunts and larks; date night inspiration; winter-to-spring fun; day-long festivals and events; art-outings; family fun-and-learning fusions; plays and shows; beyond-Small Business Saturday local shopping and bazaars; markets of handcrafted wares; music; 1Ks to marathons... the list goes on. If you know of an event not listed in our entertainment calendar, email it to for happenings in south Fairfax County or for entertainment in the northern parts of the county.

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Moving Forward

Executive Steering Committee sends supervisors Route 1 multimodal alternatives plan.

The redevelopment of Route 1 is not unlike sitting in rush hour traffic on Route 1: slow, but moving gradually forward.

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Mourning Hannah

Candlelight gathering planned for Saturday.

More than a month of what Charlottesville chief of police Timothy Longo described as an “unprecedented” search is finally over.

Wednesday, October 29

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Board Approves Bicycle Master Plan

The Fairfax County Government Center has several massive parking lots. Many hundreds of spaces. But Bruce Wright and members of the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling only needed some rack real estate in front of the building. They rode into the afternoon session of the Board of Supervisors on two wheels apiece from Reston, taking the West Ox Road Side Path.

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Stage Presence

Cappies recognized among arts leaders at Arts Council awards.

After Bill Strauss first approached Judy Bowns about creating a student-driven arts awards and journalism organization 16 years ago, the ensuing creative partnership resembled a pair of cartoon characters.

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Mount Vernon to Host Edison in Win-Or-Go-Home Game

Top-seeded Majors lose to TJ in Conference 13 semifinals.

The Mount Vernon field hockey team will face Edison on Friday for third place in the Conference 13 tournament.

Running Out of Efficacy

Not that I’m the least bit worried (actually, I’m the most bit worried), but surviving a terminal cancer diagnosis years beyond one’s original prognosis does present its own unique set of problems. Most notably, and most personally for me, they concern treatment options. Specifically, what drugs, targeted or otherwise, can be infused and/or swallowed (when in pill form, like Tarceva) and for how long, when signs of internal organ damage are indicated on regular lab tests?

Column: Running Out of Efficacy

Not that I’m the least bit worried (actually, I’m the most bit worried), but surviving a terminal cancer diagnosis years beyond one’s original prognosis does present its own unique set of problems.

Editorial: Change for the Better in Fairfax County Schools

Later start times, full-day Mondays; who knows, next maybe gifted-and-talented programs for poor students?

Who says big bureaucracies can’t make big changes? One year into the tenure of Karen Garza, we have two huge changes that between them impact almost every single student, every family with children in Fairfax County Public Schools.

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Local Foundation Promotes Campus Safety

The VTV Family Outreach Foundation, a Centreville-based national non-profit campus safety advocacy organization, held their 2014 annual meeting last weekend at the Sheraton Reston Hotel. VTV was formed by the families of victims and survivors of the April 16, 2007 mass shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Monday, October 27

Opinion: Vote ‘Yes’ on Transportation Bond

When you enter the voting booth on Nov. 4, you’ll be asked to vote Yes or No on a $100 million Fairfax County transportation bond. (Bonds are a form of long-term borrowing to finance public facilities and infrastructure and spread the costs over a long time frame. Virginia law requires that general obligation bonds be approved by voters in a referendum.)

Thursday, October 23

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Recommendations For Route 1

Bus Rapid Transit by 2026, Yellow Line Extension by 2040.

Extending the Yellow Line to the Route 1 corridor isn’t exactly building another Rome. But it may take that long.

‘This, Sadly, Is Now a Death Investigation’

Human remains found during Hannah Graham search.

Some time before noon on Oct. 18, a search team from the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s department discovered human remains on an abandoned property along Old Lynchburg Road in southern Albemarle County.

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Connect Four

Complete ballot of 11th District candidates faced off in Lake Ridge.

It wasn’t so much a down and dirty debate as a no-frills four-way question-and-answer session. Not that AARP and the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area (LWVFA), two of the sponsors of the “Meet the Candidates” series billed the Oct. 14 event as such. Tuesday’s meeting was the penultimate of seven events in the series.

Outreach Saves Fifth House

Fire Department smoke alarm program credited.

Fairfax County firefighters have been making more house calls than usual. And it’s paying off. In the case of a basement fire in the early morning of Oct. 13 at a house on Remington Drive in Alexandria, they might not have gotten the call until it was too late if it weren’t for the fire department’s Safety In Our Community (SOIC) outreach program.

Wegmans Begins Hiring Full-time Employees

Business Note

Wegmans Food Markets has begun recruitment of full-time positions for its new Alexandria store in Fairfax County, set to open mid-year in 2015.

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Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation Hosts Transportation Summit

Transportation trends like super streets and roundabouts may not be the perfect fit for every roadway and intersection in northern Virginia. But the goal of next week’s Innovations in Transportation Summit, hosted by the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), is to see how these updates are successful in other states and countries, and how they could be adapted here.

EF-0 Tornado Hits Near Belle Haven

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) reported a minor tornado touched down around lunchtime Oct. 15 in the Belle Haven area and followed a tree-damaging path 1.5 miles towards Alexandria city.

Crime Report

The following incidents were reported by the Mount Vernon District Police Station.

New Crime Report

The following incidents were reported by the Mount Vernon District Police Station.

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Fall Fun at Burgundy Farm

Hundreds of children and their families flocked to Burgundy Farm Country Day School for the annual Fall Fair on Saturday, Oct. 18.

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Marking National Fire Prevention Week

The fire stations in Fairfax County held an open house on Saturday, Oct. 11 as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

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Letter to the Editor

Byers’ Legacy

When retired Col. John R. Byers passed away in July 2012, I suggested to the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) that the Williamsburg North Park on Collingwood Road be renamed in his honor. He lived in the neighborhood and walked by the park on a daily basis.

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A Journey through Local Waterways

Recreational opportunity abounds in the northern border of the Mount Vernon District in the form of urban kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and perhaps even wind surfing on the slowly moving flat water that is within the confines of the Hunting Creek, Quander Brook and Cameron Run watershed.

Huntley Meadows Dedicates New Outdoor Classroom

The Outdoor Classroom Teaching Pavilion at Huntley Meadows Park was officially dedicated on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Wednesday, October 22

Column: Self-Indulgent or Self-Effacing

After re-reading last week’s column: “Not in the Mood,” I began wondering if that column had strayed beyond the boundaries, so to speak, and was too much about me and not enough about my circumstances.

Fairfax Education Summit to Be Held on Oct. 25

The Fairfax County School Board will host Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) fifth annual Education Summit, Mapping Your Student’s Unique Journey: Explore the Many Choices in Fairfax County Public Schools, on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 a.m. at Edison High School.

Self-Indulgent or Self-Effacing

After re-reading last week’s column: “Not in the Mood,” I began wondering if that column had strayed beyond the boundaries, so to speak, and was too much about me and not enough about my circumstances. Certainly I understand, given my column’s recurring theme, that the subjects of me and my circumstances – and the personal stories I share with you regular readers – are basically the same. Still, I never want the content to be considered important because it’s MY life that’s being profiled. Quite the contrary. If the columns were any more about me, you wouldn’t be interested.

Editorial: Yes to Fairfax Transportation Bond

$84 million for pedestrian, bike and trail improvements.

Of more than 75 projects included in the current proposal, on the ballot for Nov. 4, all but seven are designed to make Fairfax County safer and more inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Friday, October 17

Focusing On Police

Mount Vernon-based group persists in police oversight board.

Louis Meyers with the Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability (CCPA) opened the group’s Oct. 6 meeting by saying, “We’re privileged to have a very good police department.”

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Delay in Shooting Investigation Decried

Supervisors urge action by U.S. attorney.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided they’ve exercised enough patience with U.S. Attorney Dana Boente’s office. Now more than 13 months after Fairfax County police shot and killed John Geer, standing unarmed in the doorway of his Springfield home, Board chairman Sharon Bulova addressed the silence from Boente.

One Month Missing

Search for Hannah Graham continues.

Over 30 days after second-year UVA student and West Potomac alumna Hannah Graham was last seen on a surveillance tape in Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, Charlottesville police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management are continuing their search.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: September, 2014

In September 2014, 111 homes sold between $1,262,000-$92,000 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: September, 2014

Thursday, October 16

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Crashing the Parties

Marc Harrold, Libertarian; Joe Galdo, Green, run for Congress.

Marc Harrold is a self-professed creature of habit. He’s been going to the same bars and restaurants near his Fairfax home for years, where the close friends he’s made there say his great sense of humor and diverse intelligence help him “hold court” and converse easily with anyone, on any subject.

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Oktoberfest at St. Aidan’s

The Mount Vernon Community Band set up as volunteers heated up the grills for cooking German sausage in preparation of St. Aidan’s Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 11.

U.S. 1 Transit Study: Time to Speak Up

Last week, Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transit held the last public hearing on the U.S. 1 Multimodal Transit Study. This study will determine the most appropriate road configuration, mode of transit and accompanying land uses for the U.S. 1 corridor for the next 30 years. As the study ends, public input is absolutely critical.

Sarvis: Warner-Gillespie Debate ‘Disappointing’

Libertarian candidate says chamber’s decision to include only major-party candidates in U.S. Senate debate a “disservice” to voters.

After a full day of campaigning at Fort Belvoir on Friday, Oct. 11, Robert Sarvis talked about his campaign for U.S. Senate, and his disappointment in not being invited to participate in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Debate — a major televised debate hosted by The Fairfax Chamber at Capitol One’s convention center in McLean. “The Fairfax Chamber informed us that it was nothing other than ‘tradition’ to only invite major party candidates,” Sarvis said. “But this was after we formally requested an invitation, noted that over 145,000 Virginians voted for Robert Sarvis for governor in 2013, and sent them a petition signed by over 1,000 Virginians in support of a three-candidate debate.”

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Warner, Gillespie Clash in U.S. Senate Debate

Stark distinctions on same-sex marriage, immigration, abortion and healthcare.

In front of an audience of Northern Virginia business leaders, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie honed their attacks on each other during a sharp, wide-ranging debate Tuesday evening, Oct. 7.

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Getting Children Excited for Halloween

Local experts offer advice for keeping trick-or-treating fun, not scary, for small children.

For many children, Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. From Power Rangers and athletes to princesses and pirates, dressing up in their spookiest or most imaginative attire and trolling the streets in search of treats is a major part of the fun for school-age children. For younger children, however, the ghosts and goblins who are meant to entertain can cause too much of a fright.

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The Private School Admissions Process

Local educators offer insider tips on how to select and get a child admitted to the perfect school.

While this school year might still feel new, some parents are already thinking next fall. Or if they’re not, they should be. For parents who are considering sending their children to one of the area’s private schools for the 2015-2016 school year, the application process should be underway.

Editorial: Coming - Children’s Connection

During the last week of each year, The Connection devotes its entire issue to the creativity of local students and children. The results are always remarkable. It is a keepsake edition for many families.

Wednesday, October 15

An Economic Debate

8th Congressional District candidates differ over priorities.

Congressional candidates Don Beyer and Micah Edmond squared off last week at a forum in what could rank as one of the election season’s tamest political debates.

Column: Not in the Mood

Sometimes, believe it or not, I’m not in the mood to be a terminal cancer patient (duh). Not that the effect is particularly tangible, but the weight of it, as well as the associated waits I’ve occasionally written about, can get awfully heavy.

Following Don Beyer’s Political Journey

Don Beyer likes climbing mountains. One of his two current dreams is to climb a via feratta, one of the climbing routes along the alps. Beyer has a certain fascination with the Eiger, or “The North Wall.” For Beyer, the appeal is in the challenge.

Micah Edmond Walking the District

On the campaign trail with Edmond.

Micah Edmond’s 8th District Congressional campaign has a problem.

Friday, October 10

Bio and Q&A with Gerry Connolly

Q: What do you think are your top three accomplishments in office? A: * The Silver Line. I wasn’t alone, but I'm very proud of my championship of the Silver Line and the fact that it's up and running and succeeding. It took 19 years to sort of get people to reimagine it and get it built. It was a long, tough struggle.

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A Cracking Success

Hyland’s 24th Lobsterfest fundraiser fends off foul weather.

How does it feel to chauffeur over 500 head of fresh lobster, direct from Maine? John Harris, co-organizer of Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland’s 24th annual Lobsterfest knows.

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‘A New Day Has Dawned’

Same sex marriage goes forward in Virginia.

At 10:01 a.m. on Oct. 6, Cathy Baskin of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale received her usual New York Times set of alerts. “I read it 15 times,” said Baskin. “This can’t be true.”

Thursday, October 9

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Fordson Place Shopping Center Holds Grand Opening

Lookout, Starbucks: There’s a new Peet’s in town. Peet’s Coffee and Tea was one of six new shops at Fordson Place Shopping Center that held a grand opening celebration Wednesday Oct. 1.

Wednesday, October 8

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Bishop Ireton QB Dickinson Finds Success on the Move

Senior signal caller has Cardinals at 5-1 after transferring from El Paso.

Joe Dickinson has passed for 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns in six games after transferring from Chapin High School in El Paso to Bishop Ireton in January.


Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations.

Dear Chairman and Board Members: The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations (the Federation) appreciates the many years of support that the Board of Supervisors (BOS) has provided to the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL). Recently, the FCPL introduced new policies that the Federation decided to examine.

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Focus on Transportation

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance presents regional priorities at 10th annual event.

“What You Need to Know about Transportation in Five Minutes or Less” was the working title of this year’s Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTA) seminar and reception held on Sept. 30 at Capital One’s auditorium in McLean.

Column: Week Of, Weak On, Week Off

This column completes the three-week arc which describes what I have endured mostly successfully for approximately five years now: chemotherapy every three weeks – with one year off for good behavior (not really good behavior; the year off was to switch to a twice-daily pill, Tarceva, to be taken at home, since the previous treatment was no longer stemming the tide). It’s been my experience that these anti-cancer drugs don’t exactly work forever.

Thursday, October 2

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Celebrating Good Times

Mount Vernon and Lee community event returns for second year.

Julie Divine’s daughters are scrambling up a rock wall in the middle of the Inova Mount Vernon Hospital grounds.

Calling for Heroin Problem Update

“Heroin is here, it’s on our doorstep, it’s in our communities and it often goes unnoticed,” said District Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield).

18 Days: Hannah Graham Still Missing

Charlottesville police are still looking for second year University of Virginia student and West Potomac High School alumna Hannah Graham. The 18 year old was last seen and heard from early in the morning on Saturday, Sept. 13 around Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.

Tougher Tests, Tough Results

Local schools receive warnings from the state.

“Test scores do not define our schools. They never have and never will,” said Mount Vernon District School Board member Dan Storck. Earlier this month the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released accreditation results based on student performance in the 2013-2014 school year. The ratio of Fairfax County Public schools receiving full accreditation to those not making the grade dropped from 94 percent a year ago to 89 percent.

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95 Express Lanes On-Road Testing Begins

Testing phase to be completed by end of year.

If all goes according to plan, the new 95 Express Lanes will make it more difficult for motorists expecting to leave their cars parked in traffic on I-95. The 29-mile stretch of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes — from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to around Edsall Road on I-395 in Fairfax County — should beef up the carrying capacity of current HOV lanes.

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T.C. Williams Field Hockey Beats Rival West Potomac

Titans bounce back from season’s first loss, improve to 9-1-1.

The T.C. Williams field hockey team started the season with a 9-1-1 record.

Wednesday, October 1

New Voter Identification Requirements

There are new requirements for voter identification that voters must bring with them to the polling place.

Voting Early, Absentee

Elections 2014

Virtually every voter in Virginia is eligible to vote absentee, which includes voting in-person absentee at a variety of locations from now through Nov. 1.

Column: Pre-Chemo Peek

I realize, given last week’s column: “Post-Chemo Week,” this week’s column about the preceding week (week-of, actually) of chemotherapy might be a bit bass-ackward, but it seemed reasonable to me that if you regular readers had an interest in the week-after, perhaps you’d have a similar interest in the week-before.