Stories for September 2016

Stories for September 2016


Thursday, September 29

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Mount Vernon: Quander Road School provides flexible, family-like special education experience

Within the first week of the 2016-2017 school year, teachers at the Quander Road School in Mount Vernon had already finished their jobs for five students. For that select group, they were ready to return to their base high school and transition back to a less restrictive educational experience.

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Mount Vernon: West Potomac Freshman Verbally Commits to Auburn Softball

On a recent unofficial visit to Auburn University, West Potomac High School freshman Claire Davidson committed verbally to play softball at the college. At the end of the 2016 season, Auburn was the SEC conference champion and finished second in the NCAA national championship.

Mount Vernon Letter: Pay To Fix Meals Tax Brochure

Letter to the Editor

In my letter to the Gazette two weeks ago, I discussed a brochure sent to Fairfax County residents at the behest of the Board of Supervisors (BOS) discussing the Meals Tax Referendum and pointing out that the brochure only set forth reasons to support the Referendum and no reasons to oppose it.

Mount Vernon Letter: Meals Tax Or Slush Fund?

Letter to the Editor

Recent discussions of the proposed meals tax can be stated as three large problems.

Mount Vernon Letter: Costs of Capital Projects

Letter to the Editor

There are two capital projects in the Mount Vernon District being proposed for the upcoming Bond Referendum.

Mount Vernon Letter: Food for Thought

Letter to the Editor

The meals tax has come forward at this time as a possible way of providing much-needed income to the schools. Broadly speaking, the schools have cut budget for 10 years and held teacher salaries flat through most of that period. (I believe 2016 is the one exception to that trend thanks to the leadership of Karen Garza.) Now Fairfax County schools have larger class sizes and lower paid teachers than surrounding systems.

Mount Vernon: Strip Mall Transformation

Approval recommended for 375 residential units and 7,500 square feet of retail on 5 acres in place of aging strip.

Novus Property Holdings has been seeking to redevelop a 5.2 acre property in the Penn Daw Community at the intersection of Richmond HIghway and Fairview Drive for the past four years, said Sara Mariska, who represents the developer.

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Fairfax County: Call for Civility in Schools’ LGBTQ Discussion

School board Board also receives Opening of Schools report, votes on challenged materials review committee.

Robert Rigby stood before the Fairfax County School Board on Sept. 22 wearing a red polo shirt, typically a sign of unity at board meetings among parents and community members who have opposed recent policy updates in the school system surrounding students who identify as transgender.

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Mount Vernon: Hospital Praised as Community Anchor

Celebrating Community Day and 40th anniversary of Mount Vernon Hospital.

Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce and Inova Mount Vernon Hospital partnered to co-sponsor Community Day and the hospital’s 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Sept. 24. This is the fourth year the chamber sponsored a Community Day to recognize and celebrate local businesses, non-profits and Mount Vernon and Lee residents. Since Mount Vernon Hospital was planning to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the chamber decided to join celebrating Community Day simultaneously with Mount Vernon hospital.

Wednesday, September 28

Editorial: Independent Police Auditor Marks History

Kudos to Board of Supervisors for unanimous approval of independent police auditor; now on to the Civilian Review Panel.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to create the position and office of independent police auditor on Tuesday, Sept. 20, creating the first civilian, independent oversight of law enforcement in Fairfax County. The unanimous vote demonstrated the board’s commitment to the ongoing process that began early in 2015 when Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova established the 32-member Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.

Saturday, September 24

Walk to Prevent Suicide

Walk supports survivors of suicide loss and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Out of the Darkness Walks are American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s largest fundraiser, producing millions for suicide prevention programs, and works to unite those who have been affected by suicide, and create communities that are “smart about mental health.”

Homework Overload

Some educators say less can be more, stress balance when it comes to homework.

Paula DeMarco dreads one time of day the most: weekday evenings at 5:30. It’s the time she has set aside for her children begin their homework. That means no screen time, music or other distractions.

‘Sextortion’ Victims Are Mostly Men

Photos, video used to demand money from victims.

Detectives of the Major Crimes Division of Fairfax County Police report a trend in an unsavory type of financial scam. Sexual extortion scams, commonly referred to as “sextortion,” involve meeting someone the victim believes is a real person online who coaxes him or her into feeling a sense of connection and intimacy, and then sending risque photos or video.

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First Lady Comes to GMU, Campaigns for Clinton

Speaks on Hillary Clintons 'lifelong record of public service.'

Excitement filled the air when First Lady Michelle Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd, last Friday, Sept. 16, at GMU’s Johnson Center. Speaking on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, she urged everyone to vote and called Clinton the only qualified candidate in the race.

Friday, September 23

Mount Vernon Letter: Shameful Propaganda

Letter to the Editor

In last week's Gazette, my letter was published in which I explained that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) had mailed to residents the previous week a brochure discussing the Meals Tax Referendum that is on the November ballot (which if approved would create a new 4 percent tax on meals prepared by food establishments).

Mount Vernon: Tax Would Hurt Working Families

Letter to the Editor

I am a resident of the Alexandria area of Fairfax County and a single working mother with two children in Fairfax County public schools.

Thursday, September 22

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Fairfax County: Students learn IT and job skills, earn tech internships.

On a scorching week day in late summer, rising Fairfax County seniors Kenneth Smith, Amy Wong and Tasmia Dia were taking cumulative review tests in their summer course. This wasn’t exactly summer school, though.

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Fairfax County: Changes in Voting from 2012

Electoral board highlights key dates and procedure updates.

Clinton or Trump? Meals Tax or no Meals Tax? These are just a two of the weighty decisions on the ballot for this fall’s election. To help people prepare for this cycle, leaders of the Fairfax County electoral board held a meeting with media to highlight some changes from the 2012 Presidential election.

Mount Vernon: Giles Overlook Developing

75 percent of land to remain open space.

Lorton Valley III calls its development Giles Overlook: 52 singles family detached dwellings on 38.37 acres on Sanger Street in Mount Vernon. Fairfax County Planning Commission voted Wednesday, Sept. 14, to recommend approval of plans that will permit development less than 200 feet from the required distance between residential buildings and I-95 and to allow for increased height of a noise barrier to be located 15 feet from I-95 right-of-way.

Mount Vernon Column: Plan for Upgrading Utilities on Richmond Highway Now


Richmond Highway revitalization is a hot topic in Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Cybersecurity: Critical Industry


The Internet is a tremendous catalyst for economic growth and provides for easy access to information. It is already an essential tool that we would find impossible to live without. As we become more dependent upon this interconnectivity, we are increasingly more vulnerable. Virginia’s leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize the critical importance of a strong cybersecurity policy.

Mount Vernon: Forum To Chew on Meals Tax Referendum

The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area (LWVFA) will sponsor a Meals Tax Forum at the auditorium of Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 21

Classified Advertising September 21, 2016

Read the latest ads here!

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Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Garza Resigns

Fairfax County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Karen Garza has announced her resignation, just months after the FCPS board renewed her contract through June 30, 2020.

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Fairfax County: Supervisors Approve Independent Police Auditor

Unanimous vote follows Ad Hoc Commission recommendations for more transparency and oversight of Fairfax County police.

With a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of an independent police auditor office, following recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.

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Alexandria Appetite: 2 Restaurants Hidden in Plain Sight

Finding these gems requires a bit of searching, but the result is worth it.

Tucked away amid retail shops, barbershops, and numerous other storefronts, some of the city’s restaurant gems are a bit tricky to uncover. But the result is worth the search. Here are two of Alexandria’s best strip-mall selections.

Forum To Chew on Meals Tax

The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area (LWVFA) will sponsor a Meals Tax Forum at the auditorium of Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. The forum will feature panelists on both sides of the issue. The panel will also take written questions from the audience. Questions may also be submitted in advance by writing to

Tuesday, September 20

Fairfax Raises $521,509 for MDA

Letter to the Editor

For over 30 years, during Labor Day Weekend, the men and women of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, in conjunction with the Fairfax County Professional FireFighters and Paramedics - IAFF Local 2068 and the personnel in the Department of Public Safety Communications, have collected for the Greater Washington Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) during the Fill the Boot Campaign.

Friday, September 16

Mount Vernon Home Sales: August, 2016

In August, 2016, 152 homes sold between $2,900,000-$86,000 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: August, 2016

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Fairfax: Roadside Protest for McKenna and Martinez Deaths

The Northern Virginia chapter of the group Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organized a demonstration at 4 p.m. on Sep. 14 along Lee Highway in Fairfax, calling for justice for Natasha McKenna and Giovanny, or Jovany, Martinez.

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Mount Vernon: Tag Day Yields More than $29,500

School Notes

Hundreds of West Po performing arts students hit the streets for last Saturday’s annual Tag Day.

Mount Vernon Obituary: Jerry S. Lucas

Jerry S. Lucas, 68, of Pooler, Ga., died on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in his home.

Mount Vernon Obituary: Margie Harris

Margie “Marge” Diane Lukoskie Harris, died on Dec. 12, 2015 at her daughter’s home in Quincy, Fla., after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Mount Vernon Letter: Meals Tax: Missing Items on This Menu

Letter to the Editor

It’s good to be the King, especially when you can manipulate the message and censor opposing points of view to an entire county on a major referendum issue.

Mount Vernon Letter: My Three Angels

Letter to the Editor

Fifteen years ago today I was lying in the street dying — cardiac arrest.

MOunt Vernon Column: Need To Raise Minimum Wage


Over the last several weeks, our area college students have returned to school to resume their studies for the fall semester. I know that their parents are very proud of them as are we all.

Thursday, September 15

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Mount Vernon: Heroes Run at Sandburg

Community members came out for a five-kilometer run-walk on a much sunnier day than the first year of the Alexandria 9/11 Heroes Run at Sandburg Middle School in the Fort Hunt area of Alexandria.

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Mount Vernon, Springfield: School Performance, Meals Tax Discussed with Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber

Three FCPS board members speak to business leaders.

“I learned about empathy and coding,” was the response from one young Fairfax County Public Schools student who participated in this summer’s Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics lab program.

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Clifton: Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program to hold tenth Polo Classic fundraiser

Once a week for the last seven years, César Dulanto of Lake Ridge, Va. has come to Clifton to trade his wheelchair for a saddle. Dulanto, 13, has been been wheelchair-bound since the age of two with cerebral palsy. He used to have difficulty just sitting up in a chair. And, he said, “I used to be so shy.”

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Alexandria Column: There, Their, and They’re

A Mentoring Story

Wright to Read provides volunteer-based one-on-one sustained literacy tutoring and mentoring relationships to City of Alexandria elementary school children in need, and collaborates with families, schools and community partners to create a support network that guides each child to success.

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Alexandria/Mount Vernon: Golf Classic Benefits Veterans

Belle Haven tournament raises funds.

The third annual Patriots Day Golf Classic was held Sept. 9 at Belle Haven Country Club, raising funds for local veterans organizations in remembrance of those who perished in the 9-11 terrorist attacks as well as to honor those serving their country and working as first responders and emergency rescue personnel.

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Fairfax County: Supervisors to Vote on Independent Auditor Office

Board item reviewed by public safety committee

At its Sept. 20 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission to create an office of independent police auditor.

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Fairfax County School Board Postpones Decision on New Sponsorship Policy

Fairfax County Public Schools are far from becoming a David Foster Wallace novel.

Fairfax Namesake School District in California Celebrated

While there can only be one Fairfax County Public Schools system, members of the FCPS board and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors congratulated the namesake Fairfax School District in Bakersfield, Calif. on its 125th anniversary.

Wednesday, September 14

Suicide Prevention: Everyone’s Business

Letter to the Editor

On behalf of the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN), I thank you for the Connection’s compassionate and informative editorial printed in observance of Suicide Prevention Week, titled Take One Action to Prevent Suicide.

What’s Permissible When Planning a Home Renovation?

Complete due diligence upfront to research any ordinances or restrictions that may affect the project.

Unfortunately, homeowners and contractors often forget important steps during this project feasibility phase, which sometimes leads to wasted time and money or abandoned projects. To ensure you sidestep those mistakes, start with this checklist to look into to help minimize setbacks while planning and executing your next renovation.

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Vienna Sunroom Brings Light, Awards

Family entertainment suite, larger breakfast area, private second level decking among stand-out custom features

To Sanjay and Deepika Sardana, who have occupied a Colonial style-home in Vienna for 14 years, the great achievement of their new sunroom addition is how well it meets their requirements regarding views, available light and interior design.

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Comfort Zone

Local furniture maker combines style and comfort

John W. Smith treks through a maze of sleek chairs and stately sofas in a large, sunlit showroom tucked in an industrial warehouse center in Fairfax. He pauses at a dining chair, upholstered in beige linen and framed with espresso hardwood.

Classified Advertising September 14, 2016

Read the latest ads here!

Thursday, September 8

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Mount Vernon: New MVHS principal brings new mission and vision.

It might surprise some people, Mount Vernon High School Principal Dr. Anthony Terrell said, but 90 percent of students at his school — with a 54 percent poverty rate — are consistently on time to class.

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Fairfax: Dead Man’s, Deputy’s Name Released in Inova Shooting

Police, sheriff investigations continue.

Jovany Martinez is the 29-year-old Hispanic man who died after being shot by a Fairfax County Sheriff’s deputy Monday night Aug. 15 outside Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Wednesday, September 7

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Mount Vernon Snapshot: West Potomac’s Tag Day This Saturday

Two hundred performing arts students — from band, chorus, guitar, orchestra and theater from West Potomac High School — will be knocking on doors for their annual Tag Day.

Mount Vernon Letter: An Immigrant’s Story

Letter to the Editor

July 4, 1962: I left the Philippines and arrived in Rochester, Minn. all on the same date, even though 24 hours have passed because of the different time zones. I was 23 years old, a registered nurse, college graduate and two years of work experience.

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Mount Vernon: SFDC Hosts Session On Government Contracting

Anna Urman, a consulting advisor to small businesses, discussed "Government Contracting for Small Business" at the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation’s (SFDC) Business Roundtable Session on Sept. 1 at the Holiday Inn Express on Richmond Highway.

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Mount Vernon: Church Holds 8th Annual Back-to-School Festival

Harvest Assembly Baptist Church encourages school success.

Hundreds of children participated in Harvest Assembly Baptist Church’s 8th annual Back to School Festival on Sept. 3.

Mount Vernon Column: Virginia Faces Another Shortfall


Last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that state revenues were lower than assumed in our state budget passed earlier in the year. This creates a series of difficult choices.

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Alexandria/Mount Vernon: Revolutionary New Race

Join in George Washington Patriot Run this Sunday.

Thanks to Lockheed Martin’s sponsorship, runners will have the opportunity to participate in the first-ever USA Track & Field-certified road race to enter the historic property at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Alexandria/Mount Vernon Column: Who Are Our Patriots?


For many months, a group of Alexandria citizens have been working with officials at Mount Vernon Estate to create a run that celebrates patriotism at the George Washington Patriot Run (10/5k).

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Suicide Loss ‘Club’


When I was 15 years old, I received my first “membership card” to suicide loss. I got the platinum membership card because not only was my loss to suicide, but it was also a parent.