Stories for February 2017

Stories for February 2017


Tuesday, February 28

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Beware Early Allergy Season

Experts offer suggestions for preventing and treating allergy symptoms.

Those experiencing Itchy, watery eyes and seemingly endless sneezing know that spring allergy season is getting an early start this year thanks to this season’s mild winter weather.

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Prayer Vigil at ICE Office

Rising Hope pastor speaks about arrests outside church.

On the morning of Feb. 8, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers showed up across the street from Rising Hope Mission Church on Russell Road in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria.

Fairfax County Solicits Public Input on Environmental Vision

Online survey open through March 6.

Fairfax County is preparing to update the Environmental Excellence 20-Year Vision Plan (Environmental Vision) and the public is urged to weigh in via an online survey.

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Chief to Release Name of Officer in Herndon Shooting

Risk assessment is complete.

The risk assessment of the officer involved in the fatal Jan. 16 shooting of Mohammad Azim Doudzai is now finished, according to a Feb. 24 release from Fairfax County Police.

U.S. Marshals Warn Public of Jury Duty Phone Scams

The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public of a nationwide telephone scam involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers or law enforcement officials seeking to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty.

Editorial: Good, Bad and Missed Opportunities

Results of the 2017 session of the General Assembly.

GOOD THINGS Progress in funding mental health and addressing the opioid epidemic on multiple levels were among the successes of the 2017 General Assembly session.

Monday, February 27

Commentary: Progress on Mental Health Reforms

A robust legislative agenda seeking to improve Virginia’s approach to mental health crises emerged this year from the Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services.

Obituary: Ann Oneida Jones Dempsey

Obituary: Ann Oneida Jones Dempsey

Obituary: Donald Patrick Eggleston

Obituary: Donald Patrick Eggleston

Commentary: ‘Stand Up When the Time Comes’

The following is an open letter to Alexandria District Clergy.

Letter to the Editor: Teaching Values to Scouts

I read with great interest the Feb. 16 letter to the editor entitled "Inappropriate Topic?"

Commentary: Coal Ash Bill Passes

We have one week to go in session and negotiations are rapidly reaching conclusion as we push to finish out work so we can get back to our families and our jobs.

Commentary: All-In for Nonpartisan Redistricting

These last weeks are a flurry of activity as we rush to complete our legislative business by our Constitutionally mandated deadline of Feb. 25.

Letter to the Editor: Ensure School Children’s Safety

Two months ago, I noticed that the school zone speed limit sign on Parkers Lane is south of the intersection with Hinson Farm Road and that there is no other such sign north of that intersection.

Obituary: Colonel Richard Bonner Trumbo

Colonel Richard Bonner Trumbo, Ph.D., U.S. Air Force (retired), died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, from complications of dementia.

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Crossing Guard Appreciation Day

Principal of Waynewood Elementary School, Jamie Meier, and volunteer student crossing guard assistants presented Barbara Taylor with a bouquet of flowers on Crossing Guard Appreciation Day, Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Friday, February 24

Help Repair Mount Vernon Trail

Sathiya Kannan, a Girl Scout from Reston, will be repairing one of the bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail in Alexandria on Saturday, March 25, as a Silver Award Project for scouting.

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Thursday, February 23

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Prayer Vigil at ICE Office

Rising Hope pastor speaks about arrests outside church.

Rising Hope Mission Church holds vigil at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Officers Rescue Bald Eagle

Bald eagle is rescued

County Names Police Auditor

New Fairfax County police auditor

Tuesday, February 21

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Matching Pets to Their Owners

Animal shelters’ counselors help families find the right fit when seeking a pet adoption.

Natasha had been abandoned and was wandering the streets of Arlington under the blaze of a hot summer sun when she was rescued and taken to a local shelter.

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Lawmaker Work Group to Examine Virginia Predatory Lending

Panel to investigate internet loans, car-title loans and open-end lines of credit.

The growing chorus of criticism about predatory lending in Virginia may not have prompted lawmakers to start passing laws to crack down on the industry. But it has accomplished one thing, formation of a work group.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

Robert Johnson of Woodbridge understands the mental health crisis from a personal perspective.

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A Record Year for Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Association of the National Capital Region honors its supporters.

Megan Newman told her story at the Alzheimer’s Association “Wall of Hope” reception at Tysons Corner on Feb. 9. She was only 18, a senior in high school, when her mother started to ask the same question more than once.

Opinion: Budget Season in Fairfax County

Attend a town hall meeting and express your priorities.

Alexandria and Arlington each have a meals tax, both enacted without a referendum because as urban forms of government in Virginia, their local elected bodies were authorized to enact the tax legislatively.

Monday, February 20

Fairfax County NAACP Hosting Community Gathering

The NAACP of Fairfax County is hosting a community and Black History Month commemoration on Saturday, Feb. 25.

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Lorton: Fire Extinguished at Waste Facility

Covanta spokesperson James Regan said one Fairfax County Fire engine remained at the Covanta Fairfax Waste to Energy Facility on Furnace Road in Lorton to assist with the process of removing waste from the refuse pit and tipping floor, to ensure all the hot spots are doused. A two-alarm blaze began there Thursday evening, Feb. 2.

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Fairfax County Names First Independent Police Auditor

Richard G. Schott, a 27-year veteran of the FBI, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be Fairfax County’s first-ever independent police auditor.

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The Connection HomeLifeStyle Real Estate and Remodeling Focus


This special focus will use the award-winning Connection Newspapers’ resources to illustrate the benefits of buying and listing homes for sale this summer.

Friday, February 17

Obituary: Robert J. Bixler

Robert (Bobby) J. Bixler, III, 66, died unexpectedly Tuesday Feb. 7, 2017 in Alexandria.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2017

In January, 2017, 96 homes sold between $1,615,000-$110,000 in the Mount Vernon area.

Mount Vernon Home Sales: January, 2017

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

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

Letter to the Editor: Permanence of Electoral College

John B. Allen of Alexandria responded to my letter published in the Jan. 26 Gazette. In my letter, I quoted the oath of office for members of the House of Representatives and criticized Congressmen Beyer and Connolly for boycotting the inauguration ceremony for now President Donald J. Trump.

Letter to the Editor: Inappropriate Topic?

My wife and I are avid readers of the Mount Vernon Gazette for many years and appreciate the local reporting we receive every week.

Commentary: From ICE Sweep to State Budget

Crossover week of the 2017 Session came to a close as we finished initial action on over 3,000 bills. Twenty-two of my bills were passed by the Senate and moved on to the House of Delegates.

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A Declaration of Conscience in Mount Vernon

Church members protest “looming threats.”

Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church (MVUC) members unanimously passed a Declaration of Conscience at a formal meeting Sunday, Feb. 12 that reads in part: “In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

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Puller Institute

Six West Potomac High students participated in the Puller Institute in Richmond to learn how government works.

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Evening Of Jazz

On Saturday night, Feb. 11, the West Potomac Jazz Band performed at a cocktail party in the atrium of the newly-opened National Museum of African American History & Culture.

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National Competition

The West Potomac High School Varsity Dance Team attended the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship at Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Feb. 3-5.

Thursday, February 16

New Acting Principal at West Potomac High School

West Potomac High School principal Alex Case and assistant principal Michelle Lyttle are both on administrative leave.

Storck Holds Back Bock Farm Decision

Supervisor Dan Storck (D-Mount Vernon) has asked to again postpone Board of Supervisors action on development for the Bock, or Hinson, Farm property in Mount Vernon.

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Fear Follows ICE Enforcement

Men said to be detained after leaving Mount Vernon shelter.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mount Vernon.

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Era of the Iron Fist: How Did Democrats Rule the House of Delegates?

Democrats complain about Republican heavy-handedness, but were they any better?

Democrats complain that Republicans are sidelining their bills without much consideration. But were Democrats any better when they had control of the House of Delegates?

Wednesday, February 15

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Making Valentines in Mount Vernon

Spring Hills Mount Vernon Assisted Living resident Myra Starr embraces Valentine’s Day as Girl Scouts Torry Lowe (middle), 7 years old, and Silvanna Sctelo (right), 11 years old, offer her some cookies.

Editorial: Ending Gerrymandering Important to Region

Efforts appear dead for this session, but elections later this year provide new opportunities.

While three bills that could have reined in the runaway gerrymandering in Virginia made it through the Virginia Senate to crossover, they died on Tuesday morning in a House subcommittee, despite some vocal Republican support.

Job Fairs Match Fairfax County Teens, Employers

Supervisor Pat Herrity’s (R-Springfield) office, along with a variety of business and community organizations, hosted two teen job fairs and resume building workshops last year.

In Session: Virginia General Assembly Briefs

Ghost of Carter Glass

Meet state Sen. Carter Glass of Lynchburg.

FCPS Adopts $2.8 Billion Budget for FY2018

5.1 percent increase from 2017 prioritizes compensation and classroom resources.

The Fairfax County School Board formally adopted interim Superintendent Steve Lockard’s proposed $2.8 billion operating budget at its Feb. 9 meeting, following several work sessions and public hearings on the matter.

Chief Still Withholding Officer’s Name in Fatal Herndon Shooting

Temporary restraining order to not release name vacated by judge.

Fairfax County chief of police Edwin Roessler has yet to release the name of the 16-year veteran officer who fatally shot Mohammad Azim Doudzai, 32, at his Herndon-area home on Jan. 16 this year.

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Improve Driver Laws, Reduce Road Deaths

Virginia’s highway safety report card.

Clifton resident Debbie Sausville represented Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) at a recent Capitol Hill news conference where Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) issued “report cards” rating all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their progress toward adopting 15 optimal laws that scientific studies, data analysis and real world experience show are effective at preventing death and injury on roadways.

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Fairfax County Executive Proposes $4.10 Billion Budget

Calls for no increase in real estate taxes; falls $61 million short of schools’ request.

An exercise in “triage and trade-offs” was how Mount Vernon District Supervisor Daniel Storck described the FY 2018 budget as proposed by County Executive Ed Long to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

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Celebrating Black History Month

Educators say these lessons are urgently needed in current racial climate.

Even though Elavie Ndura knows that it is a daunting challenge to help children grasp the entirety of the African American experience in the shortest month of the year, each February she and other educators give it their best effort.

Friday, February 10

Crossing Guard Appreciation Day Feb. 8

If you have lived in Fairfax County for any amount of time, you are surely familiar with the traffic situation here.

Commentary: First Amendment Is Alive and Well

“Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Letter to the Editor: Move Forward on Option 1 in Mount Vernon

I’ve written to the Gazette previously about Bock Farm, and, like H. Jay Spiegel, I attended the information session on Jan. 26. It was a good meeting, but what was clear, and what has been clear all along is that a minority in the adjacent neighborhood has been given too much power by Supervisor Storck.

Commentary: Victory on Water Quality

The last week of January was especially busy as the General Assembly approached Feb. 7 – Crossover – the day we are required to complete all work on bills originating in our chamber.

Commentary: Addressing Opioid Addiction

As this week is Crossover, the midpoint of our Legislative session, I wanted to share with you some good news.

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Qualifying Scores for Mount Vernon Junior Marksman

Grayson Wheeler competed among the nation’s top high school marksmen in the 2017 U.S. Army National Junior Air Rifle Championship held in Ft. Benning, Georgia on Jan. 28-29.

Scholar to Address Scouts in Mount Vernon

C.R. Gibbs will be the featured speaker for Boy Scout Troop 1906 Black History Month Program, Saturday, Feb. 25, from 9-11 a.m. at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 7836 Fordson Road, in its multi-purpose room.

Register for Fort Hunt Softball

Registration for Spring Softball is now open for the following divisons

Obituary: W. Jeff Knicely

Obituary: W. Jeff Knicely

Thursday, February 9

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Burke, Fairfax, Springfield: Bicycle Improvements Proposed for Braddock and Springfield Districts

Howard Albers of Springfield was encouraged by what he saw at the community meeting discussing proposed road striping changes in Braddock and Springfield Districts on Jan. 24.

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Lee District Leaders Hold Legislative Town Hall

Elected officials Del. Mark Sickles (D-43), Sen. George Barker (D-39) and Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) hosted a Lee District town meeting Jan. 28 at Island Creek Elementary School near the Kingstowne area of Alexandria.

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Mount Vernon Town Meeting Features 3D Flying Tour

Bulova and Storck dismiss creating Muslim registry.

The 30th annual Mount Vernon town meeting on Feb. 4.

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Meet the Chef Homero Escobar

Homero Escobar the chef at RT's Restaurant.

Tuesday, February 7

Virginia General Assembly Chugs Along through Crossover

On Tuesday, the General Assembly passed “Crossover,” the session halfway point by which each chamber must complete work on its own bills and begin considering legislation passed by the other body.

Bulova Calls for Land Use Engagement

Board of Supervisors chairman to host Community Council on Land Use Engagement.

At the Jan. 24 meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS), Chairman Sharon Bulova handed the gavel to Vice Chairman Penelope Gross (D-Mason District), and proceeded to utilize a “Chairman’s Initiative” to introduce a “Board Matter” of her own.

MATHCOUNTS Winners Announced

Top area teams, students advance to Virginia state competition.

The Northern Virginia Regional MATHCOUNTS Competition was held on Saturday, Feb. 4, at George Mason University.

Volunteer Events & Opportunities

Volunteer Events & Opportunities

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Honoring the Past and Present

A home with both a rich history and modern conveniences is on the market in Fairfax.

When Betsy Rutkowski purchased her Fairfax home, she was drawn to its rich history and the childhood memories which it evoked.

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City House, Country House

Home offers sunny interior and bucolic surroundings.

European craftsmanship, a free-flowing floor plan and light-filled rooms characterize a home that was designed according to the vision of a local jurist.

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Fireplace as Focal Point

A hearth is in demand for cold weather.

“Fireplaces have never fallen out of favor,” said David Foster, president of Foster Remodeling Solutions.

In Session: Virginia Assembly Briefs

The backlog of untested rape kits has received a lot of media attention in recent years, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been working to find ways to process all that evidence. But that’s not the only problem with rape kits. Many of them are them are simply thrown away.

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Cracking Down on On-the-Road Screen Time

Texting while driving is already illegal, but what about all the other screen time?

Lawmakers in Richmond are a bunch of angry birds, frustrated at existing law they believe does not solve the problem of drivers devoting their attention to their handheld screen instead of the road.

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Rocky Road Ahead

Governor, business leaders and analysts offer insights on regional economy.

The road signs along the highway to the region’s economic future are a bit difficult to read, sometimes pointing positively one way, and at other times seeming to indicate slow downs and hazards ahead, according to speakers and panelists at last week’s regional economic conference.

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A Look Inside Fairfax County Police Diversity Training

Commanders hear speeches on openness, forgiveness, professionalism.

West Springfield District Police Commander Cpt. Gervais T. Reed said when police officers leave the profession, some are in good shape, others are bitter.

Friday, February 3

Commentary: Nonpartisan Redistricting Needed

At the core of our Democracy we find a central figure … the vote.

Letter to the Editor: Voting Matters

I had to laugh when I read Jay Spiegel’s letter suggesting that Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer violated their oaths of office by boycotting President Trump’s inauguration.

Letter to the Editor: Praise for Mount Vernon Meeting Openness

In my letter to the Editor published in the Jan. 19 Gazette, I reported that in the meeting notice issued by Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck, for the Jan. 26 meeting concerning proposed development of a portion of the Bock Farm, Supervisor Storck stated that there would be no audience participation.

Cycling Safety and Tuition Transparency in Mount Vernon


Week three saw our General Assembly in full swing and movement on many bills.

#ConnectMVD at the 30th Annual Town Meeting


It has been a privilege and honor representing the Mount Vernon District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors these past 12 months.

Thursday, February 2

ASO Presents All-Mozart Concert

All-Mozart Concert

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Prisoner Reentry: Some Solutions

Local programs, services help ex-offenders.

Ex-offenders may face stigma, lack of family support, inadequate life skills suitable for making it on "the outside" and difficulty getting and retaining employment.

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Fairfax County: Body-Worn Cameras for Police Coming Closer

Policy addressing privacy, mental health, metrics needed before pilot begins.

Fairfax County Police could have a body-worn camera program for officers up and running as early as the fall. That’s what Police Chief Edwin Roessler and the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee discussed at the committee’s first meeting of 2017 on Jan. 31.

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Fairfax County: Deadline Reached for Civilian Review Panel Nominations

Supervisors to review applications before Feb. 14 meeting.

Jan. 31 was the final day for applications and nominations for Fairfax County’s first Civilian Review Panel, one of two new forms of independent oversight for the police department.

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Three Options Presented for Bock Farm Development

Reduced condo height and unit number for seniors; townhomes with no age restriction.

Three Options Presented for Bock Farm Development

First For Richmond Highway

Mount Vernon telecommunication facilities

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Peterson: High Expectations for Student Achievement

New Principal Leads Bucknell

New principal leads Bucknell Elementary.

Affordable Housing: 'Still Ground Zero'

Mixed progress since 2013 Housing Master Plan.

While the city has implemented some measures from its plan to expand affordable housing, other measures remain undone.

Wednesday, February 1

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Angry Birds on the Road: Lawmakers Want to Crack Down on Screen Time

Texting while driving is already illegal, but what about Facebook and Twitter?

Lawmakers in Richmond are a bunch of angry birds, frustrated at existing law they believe does not solve the problem of drivers devoting their attention to their handheld screen instead of the road.

Angry Birds on the Road: Lawmakers to Crack Down on On-the-Road Screen Time

Texting while driving is already illegal, but what about all the other screen time?

Lawmakers in Richmond are a bunch of angry birds, frustrated at existing law they believe does not solve the problem of drivers devoting their attention to their handheld screen instead of the road.

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Mount Vernon Unitarian Church Members Lobby for Gun Violence Prevention

More than 20 members and friends of the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church travelled to Richmond on Monday, Jan. 16, to join hundreds of others lobbying for stronger state gun laws.

First for Richmond Highway

Mount Vernon has already accepted 72 telecommunication facilities for wireless service, said Planning Commissioner Earl Flanagan.

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Mount Vernon's Natalie Lorca Rowing for University of Minnesota

Natalie Lorca, a 2017 West Potomac High School graduate, recently committed to row for the University of Minnesota crew team next year.

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Senate Proposes Alexandria Sewer Overflow Deadline

The Virginia Senate has advanced legislation to establish an extremely aggressive timeline for the City of Alexandria to address concerns over its Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO).