Stories for February 2015

Stories for February 2015


Friday, February 27

Mount Vernon's Robert A. Clark: World War II Navy Carrier Ace

Robert A. (Bob) Clark, 91, born Jan. 17, 1922, New York, N.Y., retired U.S. Navy carrier fighter ace and 48-year resident of Mount Vernon, died on Jan. 21, 2015, of pneumonia.

Thursday, February 26

Dates Set for Trial Of Jesse Matthew in Murder Case of West Potomac Alumna Hannah Graham

Jesse Matthew, the man charged with abducting and murdering West Potomac High School alumna Hannah Graham, will have his day in court.

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Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce to Install New Chairman

Sean O’Connell looks to expand and increase dialogue among membership.

In his 30 years as a certified public accountant with the firm PBMares, Sean O’Connell has worked in Harrisonburg, Fredericksburg and spent close to the last decade in northern Virginia.

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Fairfax County Swimmers Shine at States

Swimmers from 36 high schools from around Virginia competed in the Virginia High School League 6A state championship held in Richmond on Feb. 20.

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Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova Bulova to Create Transparency Review Commission

Group would include citizens, legal community and other organizations.

When Alexandria resident Natasha McKenna was removed from life support and died on Feb. 8, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office posted a release on the county website.

Wednesday, February 25

Fern and Otter Come to ‘Work’

“My dogs Fern and Otter, both adopted from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. They love to come to work with me at the shelter.

When Sam Met Frodo

“Sam and Frodo are both rescue cats. Frodo, the big orange guy with the furry feet, came from Home Alone Feline Rescue in 2011. He is part Maine Coon and part American bobtail. Lou and I had been thinking about getting a second cat as a companion for Frodo when I ran into Lee District School Board member Tammy Koufax at a community event in Springfield in August 2013..."

Fully Addressing Campus Sexual Assault

With only a few days left in this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly has finished much of its business.

Mount Vernon Pet Gazette: Carrie & Lily

nce upon a time, a skinny, lonely, skittish hound dog named "Lily" showed up on a pet adoption site. Two fair tween princesses hounded their parents to "pahleeeeeez" go visit this cute, cuddly, homeless urchin.

Column: Not So Late This Time

But real-time once again: February 20, 11 hours, approximately, after our regularly-scheduled, post-scan meeting with the oncologist at 10:00 this morning.

Letter: Stop the Stonewalling

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors must do their own job. They continue to look elsewhere for answers to the lack of leadership instead of within themselves.

Letter: Matter of Judgment

In my letter published in the Feb. 12, 2015 Gazette, I highlighted several votes taken by Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th) that he needs to explain as he seeks to be elevated to the State Senate. Jeff Carver responded to my letter last week. After describing himself as loathe to quote himself from earlier letters, he did so.

Mount Vernon Crime Report for the Week of February 25

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

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Mount Vernon Wrestler Adusei-Poku Wins 138-Pound State Title

Mount Vernon wrestler Bill Adusei-Poku used his loss in the 2014 132-pound state championship match as motivation entering his junior year. He hasn’t lost a VHSL match since.

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Many dog and cat adoption opportunities in Mount Vernon.

Thinking of acquiring a pet dog or cat for yourself or the family? If so, then consider the dog and cat rescue organizations in the area who offer for adoption a multitude of healthy animals of different breeds, types, ages, and sizes.

Tuesday, February 24

Editorial: Managing Mental Illness in Jails

Natasha McKenna’s death provides window on national concern.

A national report released on Feb. 11 highlighted the prevalence of people with mental illness incarcerated in local jails.

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Fairfax County School Board Discusses New AAP Center at Poplar Tree

Board seeks more community feedback before taking action.

Greenbriar West Elementary School is far from the only Fairfax County Public School with an overcrowding problem.

Thursday, February 19

Dead or Alive: Virginia General Assembly Lawmakers Pick Their Legislative Highlights at the Crossover

HB1872: Would have required the Board of Education to arrange a special training program for principals working with struggling schools.

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Virginia General Assembly Reaches Crossover

Bills live, die or fold into other legislation before review by the opposite chamber.

As the current meeting of the Virginia General Assembly neared the one-month mark, legislators in the House of Delegates and Senate had to finalize work on bills they would send to their counterparts for consideration.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2015

In January, 2015, 69 homes sold between $3,500,000-$100,000 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2015

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Faces of Gum Springs, Alexandria

Residents reflect on their historic community.

Of the current residents of Gum Springs, several hundred are descendants of the original families who bought land and settled in one of northern Virginia’s oldest and historically black communities.

Police Investigating Body Found in Ditch in Mount Vernon

Fairfax County Police are investigating the death of a man found in a drainage ditch in a wooded area near the 7500 block of Vernon Square Drive.

Wednesday, February 18

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West Potomac Wrestler Joshua Carter Wins 160-Pound Region Title

Wolverines Jeremiah Carter, Holzworth qualify for states.

The West Potomac wrestling team qualified three for states.

Column: Staying Ahead of the Feds

The federal government is not always wrong. At the same time, the state government is not always right.

The Virginia House and the Senate have penned similar but competing mid-point versions to the 2014-2016 biennial budget.

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Black History Month Celebrations

Local students learn about the history and accomplishments of African-Americans.

Fourth grade student Eli West crafted a poem this month that was modeled after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech.

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Stalled Labor Market Slows County Budget

Proposed budget calls for no real estate tax rate increase, but average homeowner would pay $184 more.

Supervisor Jeff McKay pointed out an irony in County Executive Ed Long’s proposed $3.8 billion budget. Three planning positions would be eliminated from the budget even though Long suggested the county needs more efforts to raise revenue from commercial and industrial venues.

Column: Real-Time, Really Late

I’m not a night owl. More of an early bird, worms notwithstanding. But given the contents of last week’s column, “Scantsy,” I find it difficult to write about anything else while waiting for the results of my CT Scan.

Thursday, February 12

Burke, Fairfax Station, Springfield and Mount Vernon: Describe your ideal Valentine's Day Date

Sev Kerat, senior at South County High School, Springfield resident: “We’d go ice skating, or something else active to move about and set the mood. Doing an activity makes me feel relieved instead of uptight.”

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Fort Hunt Elementary School in Mount Vernon celebrates diverse student body.

Fort Hunt sixth grader Elizabeth Hutchison was looking forward to principal Thomas Fitzpatrick’s soda bread. With her family also representing Ireland, she planned to bring some herself, as well as some shamrock decorations, to the elementary school’s second annual Dance Around the World winter festival.

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Matthew Charged In West Potomac Alumna Hannah Graham Murder

Suspect faces life in prison.

Nearly five months after the disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore and West Potomac High School alumna Hannah Graham, the primary suspect in her death investigation has been indicted by a grand jury in Albemarle County.

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Combining Health and Mental Health

Community Services Board provides emergency services, prevention and treatment.

One teenager who attempted suicide revealed that if anyone had asked him beforehand whether he was thinking of hurting himself, he would have said yes.

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Mount Vernon and West Potomac High School Students Attend Amundson Institute

Earlier this month, six students from West Potomac and Mount Vernon High Schools traveled to Richmond to experience state government first-hand.

Fairfax County Judge Orders More John Geer Materials Released

Family’s lawyer’s motions supported.

Though extensive, the thousands of pages of documents, dozens of audio files and handful of videos released last month by Fairfax County, documenting the shooting death of Springfield resident John Geer, aren’t exhaustive.

Wednesday, February 11

Letter: Reward This Performance?

Letter to the Editor

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has delayed action on raising their current annual salary of $75,000 until March 3, leaving the record open for comments. According to the County Executive, the fiscal impact of $205,000, if approved, the annual Board of Supervisors salary will total $95,500 or a 27.33 percent increase. Only supervisors Herrity (R) and Symth (D) opposed considering a Board of Supervisors pay raise.

Editorial: Not the First or Only Time

Secrecy around police shootings has been a problem for at least a decade.

The official position of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the need for changes in policy after the shooting of John Geer by police in Springfield in August of 2013 appears to be that this is the first time police policies have been a problem: “Policies for handling police-involved incidents, which served us well for decades, were inadequate in this complicated situation.”

Head Coach Arthur Faces Challenges in Return to West Potomac

First-year head coach was standout guard at WPHS, 2005 graduate

Lauren Arthur would rather be on the court helping the Wolverines. Arthur, the soon-to-be 28-year-old first-year head coach of the West Potomac girls’ basketball team, was a standout guard at the school prior to graduating in 2005.

Column: ‘Scantsy’

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to characterize the feelings I regularly experience during the final few weeks leading up to my every-three-month CT Scan, and even more so the feelings I experience waiting the following week or so to see my oncologist to discuss the results.

Thursday, February 5

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Construction Nearing for New Bridge at Woodlawn Park in Alexandria

Fairfax County expects the contractor Accubid Construction Services, Inc. to be moving forward soon with replacing the pedestrian bridge at Woodlawn Park.

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Storck Talks Schools at Mount Vernon Town Hall

These things Dan Storck knows: Elementary school students are now in class the full day on Monday and older students will start later beginning next school year. The Mount Vernon school board member lead with these recent accomplishments in his presentation at the Mount Vernon Town Hall Meeting on Saturday Jan. 31.

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Fairfax County Goes Public with Geer Documents

FCPD report confirms John Geer was shot while unarmed, hands raised.

Of the seven eyewitness accounts of the shooting death of John Geer, only one describes Geer quickly bringing his hands down to his waist. That was the perspective of PFC Adam Torres, the officer who shot Geer in the chest, killing him in the doorway of his home on Aug. 29, 2013.

Wednesday, February 4

Letter: An Open Letter to Virginia Delegates

Letter to the Editor

Many of you know our story well. We are the parents of Morgan Harrington. Morgan, a student at Virginia Tech, went to a rock concert in Charlottesville in 2009 and never came home. Her remains were found 100 days later.

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Citizens to the Rescue

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy accepting applications.

The Fairfax County Citizens Fire and Rescue Academy, a free nine-week program to learn about the work of firefighters and paramedics, will begin its next session March 12, with the deadline for online applications closing on Feb. 16.

Free and Low-Cost Dental Care for Children

Special programs available as part of National Children's Dental Health Month.

Dental hygiene should start even before a baby’s first tooth emerges. That is one of the messages that dental professionals are hoping to convey this month.

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Mental Health First Aid

County program offers insight into mental illness and teaches strategies for intervention.

Leslie Roberts recalls hearing a mother talk about getting her stepson admitted to a psychiatric hospital. “Her stepson was angry and acting out,” said Roberts. “She didn’t understand what her stepson was doing.”

Editorial: No Justification for Secrecy, Delay on Geer Shooting

Everything about this case erodes public trust and demonstrates police departments should not be allowed to apply “blanket” exemptions to release of information.

After waiting 17 months for any information about the investigation into the shooting death of John Geer, the information released last week is deeply troubling.

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GMU Students Rally to Lower Student Debt

Members of GMU Student Power Travel to Richmond to voice concern over rising debt.

Twelve students from George Mason University traveled to Richmond with the Virginia Student Power Network, rallying and calling for debt-free education, and for increased educational opportunities for undocumented students. Rodrigo Velasquez, a junior at Mason from Springfield and GMU Student Power’s organizer, was one of the 12 from Mason who also went to Richmond.

Column: The Past Future is Now Present

Presumably, maybe even obviously, nearly six years into a “terminal” diagnosis, arrangements for a smooth transition of power should have been made already.

Tuesday, February 3

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Local Prep Football Coaches React to End of Super Bowl XLIX

Majority say they would have called a run play from 1-yard line.

Lake Braddock football coach Jim Poythress sticks up for Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Sunday, February 1

Be Part of the Pet Connection

The Pet Connection, a bi-annual themed edition, will publish Feb. 25, 2015.