Stories for February 2016

Stories for February 2016


Saturday, February 27

6A North Roundup: Westfield, Battlefield Advance to Tournament Final

West Potomac, West Springfield to play in third-place game.

Westfield and Battlefield won on Friday night.

Friday, February 26

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Burke, Fairfax Station, Springfield and Mount Vernon legislators reflect on battles won, lost and tabled after General Assembly “Crossover”

Tuesday, Feb. 16 marked “crossover,” the milestone during the current session of the Virginia General Assembly session in Richmond where bills passed by the House of Delegates move to the Senate for debate and either approval or rejection, and vice versa.

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Springfield Veterinary Holistic Center offers extension to conventional medicine

Bettejeanne “BJ” Hammond much prefers the term “body work” to massage. “Open wine and get out the candles, that’s what people think of massage,” she said. “They think it’s to relax, but it’s so much more than that.”

Thursday, February 25

Art of Driving Scholarship Expands Eligibility Outside Fairfax County

After the first few years being open only to Lake Braddock Secondary School Students, the Art of Driving college scholarship in honor of Lake Braddock student Ashley Thompson expanded to all Fairfax County High Schools.

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Mount Vernon Column: Hosting 6th Annual Amundson Institute


Recently, I recognized the sixth annual Amundson Institute scholars on the floor of the Capitol in Richmond. The Amundson Institute provides an educational opportunity for high school juniors and seniors who live in or attend a school located in the 44th district on the role of the Virginia state government and top government relations professionals. We had two students from Mount Vernon High School and two students from West Potomac participated in this year’s program.

Mount Vernon Column: Electronic Textbooks and Other Bills


As we pass the mid-point of this General Assembly session, many bills are moving.

Mount Vernon Letter: Postal Service Response

Letter to the Editor

The Postal Service would like to respond to a customer’s letter to the editor [“Mail Delivery Failures,” The Gazette, Feb. 18], which we believe deserves acknowledgement.

Mount Vernon Letter: Wrong Side Of the Issues

Letter to the Editor

Once more, this week, state Sen. Scott Surovell has demonstrated that he is out of the mainstream of even his fellow Democrats.

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Fairfax County Schools to Close March 1 for Super Tuesday

Concerns about parking and traffic, as well as new guidance from the Virginia Department of Education caused the Fairfax County School Board to reconsider closing schools for the March 1 Presidential primaries.

Editorial: Bad Bills

General Assembly has potential to do lots of damage in a short period.

From pressing for use of a barbaric form of execution, the electric chair, to codifying discrimination, to stripping localities of the major tool for ensuring infrastructure is in place for new development, to hiding more and more critical public information from the public, the Virginia General Assembly is poised to do harm to the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, February 24

Classified Advertising February 24, 2016

Read the lastest ads here!

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Mount Vernon: West Potomac Boys Win Conference 7 Championship

Wolverines beat top seed West Springfield in final.

The West Potomac boys' basketball team wins the Conference 7 championship.

Monday, February 22

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Alexandria: Port City Playhouse Stages ‘Fool for Love’

Play is an exploration of pleasures, perils and consequences of sexual chemistry.

Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" will be staged by Port City Playhouse from Feb. 26 to March 12 in Alexandria.

Sunday, February 21

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West Potomac to Face West Springfield in Conference 7 Championship Game

Coach Houston making third trip to conference final in 12 years with Wolverines.

West Potomac beat Woodson on Saturday.

Friday, February 19

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County Budget Presented, About $300 More per Household

County Executive: Revenue growth is insufficient to fund all priorities. Schools still $68 million short.

County Executive Ed Long recommended a four-cent increase to the real estate tax rate.

Thursday, February 18

FCPS Open Enrollment for Two-Way and World Languages Immersion Programs

Fairfax County Public Schools' online registration for the countywide lottery for two-way and world language immersion programs will open on Monday, Feb. 22.

FCPS Students Win Awards in 2016 Scholastic Writing Competition

Fairfax County Public Schools students at 22 schools won regional awards in the 2016 Scholastic Writing Awards Competition.

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Mount Vernon: Changes at Fort Belvoir

Garrison Commander Mitchell renews Community Covenant, gives overview at business breakfast

Uniformed members of the West Potomac High School JROTC color guard paraded into the dining room at the Belle Haven Country Club as classmates in a chamber choir sang the national anthem to open the February Business Breakfast of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce.

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Alexandria/Mount Vernon Weekend Fun: Feb. 19-28


Events near Alexandria, Va.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2016

In January, 2016, 76 homes sold between $775,000-$97,500 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2016

Mount Vernon: Local Author Creates ‘Jack Spade’

Second novel reflects influence of film noir.

In “Jack Spade: Dream Detective,” computer programmer James Harper takes on the persona of a 1940s detective, Jack Spade, in his dreams. The story follows Spade and his partner Joe Sawyer as they try to solve a missing person’s case.

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Mount Vernon Snapshot: Supporting UCM Progreso Center

Enjoying the Valentine Dance and Dinner on Feb. 6, hosted by Good Shepherd Catholic Church, are UCM Progreso Center volunteers (from left) banker Ruth Esum, her sister attorney Joyce Williams, and attorney Janet Smith.

Mount Vernon Letter: Mail Delivery Failures

Letter to the Editor

The following open letter was addressed to David E. Williams, chief operating officer and executive vice president, U.S. Postal Service.

Mount Vernon Letter: Unconscionable Lack of Communication

Letter to the Editor

Recently the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability, Inc. (CCPA), a Virginia nonprofit corporation, proposed that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appoint a Citizen Complaint Oversight Board, comprised of Fairfax County citizens who would accept and investigate citizen allegations of police abuse or misconduct and report its findings and recommendations to the Chief of Police or the Board of Supervisors.

Mount Vernon Column: Regional Gas Tax, Digital Divide, and Identity Protection


The fifth week of the General Assembly Session brought some long days and nights as we rushed to complete work on bills before our mid-session deadline called “Crossover.”

Mount Vernon Column: About the Potomac Oil Spill


Over the last several weeks, our area has been subjected to an oil spill fouling the Roaches Run waterfowl sanctuary and the Potomac River. Dominion Power claimed responsibility for a 13,500-gallon spill of mineral oil from the Crystal City substation, of which about 500 gallons contaminated the Potomac River. It is working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and US Coast Guard to clean up the remaining oil.

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Fairfax County: Parents, Community Supporters Rally to ‘Invest in Kids’

Emotional independent outbursts and communal chants of “Fund our schools” and “Invest in kids” echoed through the grand amphitheater just beyond the entrance to the Fairfax County Government Center.

Tuesday, February 16

Editorial: Freedom of Information on Life Support in General Assembly?

Last week, the Assembly passed SB 202, which undid a major push eight years ago to ensure that all of our public spending was ‘online’ and searchable by ordinary citizens. This, of course, meant disclosing the salaries of public employees over a certain income level.

Editorial: Fairfax Presses Ahead with Diversion First

When police encounter someone in mental health crisis, they can transport them to Merrifield Crisis Response Center instead of jail.

Natasha McKenna died a little more than a year ago on Feb. 7, 2015.

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Diversion First Program Launched

Fairfax County officials announce Diversion First program designed to help individuals get treatment not jail time.

Kevin Earley said he’s living proof that Diversion First works. Earley has been living with bipolar disorder and had his last episode in 2007.

Uncovering the Roots of Slavery

Local student creates slave index to help descendants trace family history.

A local college student is spending much of her senior year scouring the last wills and testaments of residents of Northern Virginia.

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ServiceSource Helps People with Disabilities

Nonprofit ServiceSource helps people with disabilities.

In one section of the ServiceSource Chantilly Center, music therapist Myra Goodrich leads a group of budding musicians playing a cheerful song.

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Touching Many Hearts

Minecraft for a Mission – Touching Heart and their “Kids on a Mission” raise funds for children in foster care.

They say that charity begins at home. Helen Yi and Taylor, the mother and daughter co-founders of Touching Heart, a nonprofit aimed at educating and inspiring children to empathize with the needs of others and to take action to assist them, have no argument with that statement.

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‘Star Wars’ Fans Flock to Local Classes

Movie's popularity leaves fans wanting to feel "The Force."

Beams of neon light flash around a dark room. Young Star Wars fans from a galaxy not so far away wield light sabers and move with carefully choreographed steps.

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Time To Plan for Kids’ Summer Camp Adventures

Local camp fair offers sampling of summer programs.

Under a blanket of February frost, summer might seem light years away, but it’s closer than one might think.

Saturday, February 13

West Potomac Dominates Early in Win Over South County

Wolverines improve to 9-1 in last 10 games, sit in 2nd place.

The West Potomac boys' basketball team defeated South County 59-45 on Friday.

Friday, February 12

Mount Vernon Letter: Legalized Extortion

Letter to the Editor

Thank goodness we have the Dillon Rule in Virginia. That rule precludes localities such as cities and counties from taking any actions not specifically authorized by the state legislature. The House of Delegates and State Senate have both passed Bills (HB 770 and SB 549, respectively) the intention of which is to place limitations on the ability of localities to extract unreasonable proffers from property developers.

Mount Vernon Letter: Beware of Scam Artists

Letter to the Editor

Beware of IRS impersonation scammers. I received a telephone call in mid January 2016 that IRS was filing a suit against me and to call a call back number provided for more details.

Mount Vernon Column: Coal Ash Bill Fails, Other Bills Move Forward


As we move towards the midpoint of the General Assembly Session called “Crossover,” we are required to finish work on all bills in our respective chambers. Things are picking up in Richmond.

Mount Vernon Column: State Should Pursue Education Initiatives


Having grown up in the Fairfax County Public School system and with a daughter at West Potomac High School, ensuring Fairfax County students receive the highest quality education is a top priority of mine. Education is an investment that we make in our children to ensure that they are given the tools and opportunities to live up to their potential. We are fortunate to live in an area with a school system that is recognized for its excellence.

Mount Vernon Brief: ‘Stuff the Bus’ Benefits Koinonia Foundation

Fairfax County is promoting its annual "Stuff the Bus: Helping Fairfax Families" program through Feb. 15.

Mount Vernon Brief: Dental Office To Give Away Free Smile Makeover

Doctors Jimani Mwendo and Mike Nguyen and the team at Neibauer Dental Care – Fort Belvoir, 8626 Richmond Highway, are giving away one free smile makeover as part of My Free Smile.

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Mount Vernon: Clinton, Kaine Win Straw Poll

Fresh off her victory in the Iowa caucuses, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scored another win for the party’s nomination at the first northern Virginia Democratic Straw Poll of 2016, held Feb. 6 at Don Beyer Volvo on Richmond Highway.

Mount Vernon: Bus Aide Charged

Major Crimes Division Child Exploitation Unit detectives investigated the report from a 16-year-old student that a student bus aide, an acquaintance of hers, sent at least two inappropriate photos of himself to her electronically between November and December 2015.

Mount Vernon: Charges Against Teacher Updated

In September 2015, Michael A. Sweeney, 44, of Woodbridge, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Sweeney had been discovered with the victim, a 16-year-old girl from the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, in a vehicle that was parked in the parking lot of the 8800 block of Richmond Highway.

Thursday, February 11

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Fairfax County: Public Safety Committee meets to discuss Ad Hoc Police Review recommendations and the Diversion First initiative

Just over a year since Natasha McKenna died following multiple shocks from a taser, while in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention center, her name was never raised during the Feb. 9 meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting. Two audience members stood on one side of the Government Center conference room, holding posters bearing a picture of McKenna’s face and text including “Black Lives Matter.”

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Fairfax County: Training Center Residents Relocated

They’re all gone. As of August 2015, there were still 55 residents with mental or physical disabilities receiving services at the state-owned and operated Northern Virginia Training Center on Braddock Road.

Wednesday, February 10

Classified Advertising February 10, 2016

Read the latest ads here!

Mount Vernon 2015 Home Sales

In 2015, 744 homes sold between $3,500,000-$100,000 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon 2015 Home Sales

Tuesday, February 9

Virginia Cigarette Tax Remains Lowest in Nation

Opportunity for increase in cigarette tax blows up in smoke.

Dale Stein and the McLean Citizens Association couldn’t even raise a match before legislators in Richmond extinguished a possible increase in the cigarette tax for Fairfax County.

Editorial: Limiting Local Authority

Assembly rushes bill limiting proffers without addressing who will pay for infrastructure.

In Virginia, a Dillon Rule state, local governments have only the powers explicitly granted by the General Assembly. And what the assembly gives, the assembly can take away.

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Stylish Valentine’s Day Table Settings

Flowers and candles create romantic designs.

Fresh flowers and candles are an easy way to add elegance and romance to a Valentine’s Day table. From dramatic to understated, local tastemakers offer suggestions for setting the mood for a memorable dinner.

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Bringing Order to Household Chaos

Clever design solutions for hiding clutter.

Wires, cable boxes, soccer cleats, pet bowls and other items are life’s necessities, but they can be unsightly and disrupt the aesthetic of an elegant living space.

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Fairfax County School Board Approves $2.67 Billion ‘No Cuts’ Budget

Calls for general salary raises and additional $40 million for teachers, lowering elementary class sizes.

Members of the Fairfax County School Board have taken the next step in realizing Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza’s vision of no additional cuts in the Fiscal Year 2017 school system operating budget. T

Area Students Shine in MATHCOUNTS Competition

The Northern Virginia Regional MATHCOUNTS competition was held on Saturday, Feb. 6, at George Mason University.

Snowzilla Summit Ahead

Board names Fairfax County Animal Shelter for Michael Frey.

“What a difference a week makes,” said County Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), in case anybody had moved on from the 29.3 inches of measured snow at Dulles Airport during the recent blizzard.

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Honoring Black History

Fairfax County’s Cable Network presents programs in celebration of Black History Month.

Fairfax Public Access (FPA) will air a special series of movies and documentaries throughout the month of February in recognition of Black History Month.

Proffers in Danger?

Richmond caught the attention of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week specifically with House Bill 770 (Gilbert) and Senate B 549 (Obenshain), bills Sharon Bulova says will place “significant restrictions” on development, specifically citing “unreasonable proffers.”

Monday, February 8

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Alexandria: Bagel Uprising Launches a Revolution at Farmer’s Market

Chad Breckinridge’s fresh-baked bagels often yield a line dozens of customers deep at Four-Mile Run on Sundays.

There’s an uprising happening, all right. A Bagel Uprising.

Thursday, February 4

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Fairfax Station and Mount Vernon: Arcadia’s veteran farmers-to-be report for first weekend training

Clifton Hoffler is embarking on his third career. A resident of the Greenbelt, Md. area, Hoffler spent 21 years in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq twice, before transitioning into government sales. In 16 months, he will be a certified culinary chef.

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Wood Ranch in Springfield Town Center highlights new meat, veggie options

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill partner, managing chef and “Sultan of Smoke” Alejandro Benes is working to blend barbecue traditions, as well as cuts of meat.

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Fairfax County: Election Officers Still Needed for March Primary

Cameron Sasnett has one message for people concerned about the integrity of elections -- at least from a procedure standpoint: Get involved as an election officer.

Fairfax County: In-Custody Death Investigated

Paul Guida died Oct. 17, 2015, while in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. The 68-year-old Falls Church resident was charged with violating a protective order. He had been held without bond since Oct. 1, 2015.

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Combined Commissions for Women Host Human Trafficking Awareness Event in Fairfax

Thirty years ago, “Jen” was lured into a pornography ring and sexually abused by a man who initially pretended to be her friend.

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Burke, Lorton, Mount Vernon and Springfield: Kegs of Kerri’s Cure special ale kick within hours

Golden afternoon sun gleamed in through windows and lit up cold, grey cinder blocks, faces already beginning to blush after a beer or two, and lush flowers atop large barrels in memory of Kerri Rose. Rose and her husband Matt, Mount Vernon residents, own Forge Brew Works in Lorton. In August of 2015, she was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer. Kerri was also pregnant.

Wednesday, February 3

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Mount Vernon: Officer Helps Freezing Child

PFC Chris Mamalis of the Mount Vernon District police station helped rescue a freezing nine-year-old boy from his neighborhood while off-duty on Jan. 21.

Mount Vernon Snapshot: Supporting UCM

The Bishop Ireton High School Swim and Dive Team is conducting monthly collection drives for UCM’s Food Pantry during its 2015 - 2016 season. Above, Swim Team Captain Emma Klein at UCM is making a delivery of tuna, rice, and other staples on the Friday morning before the blizzard hits. For information about donations to UCM’s food program, visit

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Mount Vernon: Skydiver Wins Gold at Championships

West Potomac High School graduate Trevor Woods won a gold medal last month at the 2015 U.S. Parachute Association National Collegiate Parachuting Championships, held at the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales.

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Mount Vernon Brief: Seeking To Reduce Gun Violence

About 30 members and friends of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church lobbied state representatives in Richmond for stronger state gun laws on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Jan. 18.

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Mount Vernon Snapshot: Block Advisors Opens

A ribbon cutting and grand opening for Block Advisors, 7584 Telegraph Road, was held Thursday, Jan. 14, by Mount Vernon Lee Chamber of Commerce.

Mount Vernon Letter: Why Change Felony Status?

Letter to the Editor

In last week's Gazette, I pointed out that the two most important issues our representatives in Richmond should be concentrating on are education and transportation.

Mount Vernon Column: Firearm Compromise, Equal Rights Amendment Passes


The third week of the General Assembly saw a major agreement emerge on firearm violence issues, and action on several of my bills.

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Mount Vernon Column: Legislation for Virginia’s Indigenous Tribes


Virginia’s 11 state-recognized American Indian tribes played an important role in Virginia’s history, specifically in the founding of European settlements at Jamestown. Without the early contributions of resources and knowledge that these tribes shared, settlements such as Jamestown would have failed.

Mount Vernon Brief: Support Santa Claus Yacht Club

River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar is announcing a Super Bowl fundraiser event Sunday, Feb. 7 for the Santa Claus Yacht Club, a charitable organization that provides assistance to children in Alexandria through providing food, uniforms, and gifts.

Snowzilla Summit Ahead

Board names Fairfax County Animal Shelter for Michael Frey.

“What a difference a week makes,” said County Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), in case anybody had moved on from the 29.3 inches of measured snow at Dulles Airport during last week’s blizzard.

Alexandria/Mount Vernon Column: Nondiscrimination Bills Pass State Senate

Council members spar over last minute additions.

As the snow thawed and the General Assembly went about its business last week, a number of developments occurred involving LGBT rights.

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Mount Vernon Snapshot: Preparing for Renovations

Linwood Gorham, Fairfax County Park Authority board member, welcomed everyone to the groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 30 that launched the renovation of the baseball fields at McNaughton Park. All four existing fields will be demolished, along with the current buildings, to make way for new, state-of-the-art facilities.

Classified Advertising February 3, 2016

Read the latest ads here!

Tuesday, February 2

Another Opportunity to Talk About It

Super Bowl Sunday is Sunday, Feb. 7, and often more about the parties than the game.

Editorial: Economic Development in Virginia

The General Assembly prides itself in providing a pro-business climate, but refuses infusion of more than $3 billion annually.

Hundreds of bills before this year’s General Assembly session focus on “business climate,” providing incentives for businesses to locate and expand here, extending tax exemptions and tax credits, encouraging international trade, reducing regulation and many other approaches perceived as pro-business.

Marking American Heart Month

Month-long observance raises awareness about cardiovascular disease and the role of aerobic exercise in preventing it.

Music is thumping, sweat is dripping and hearts are pounding. In a packed aerobic dance studio, students move in the name of health.

Volunteer Fairfax Seeks Nominations, New Deadline Feb. 9

Awards recognize the contributions of volunteers in the community.

Nominations are open for the 2016 Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards.

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Alexandria/Mount Vernon Weekend Fun: Feb. 5-14


Events near Alexandria and Mount Vernon, Va.