Breaking – Emergency Personnel Called to Purcellville Water Tower

9:30 AM – Emergency rescue personnel have been called to the Purcellville water tower in response to an accident involving a Loudoun Valley High School student.

This is a developing story, and will be updated as details become available.
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Purcellville To Offer Car Magnets

The Town of Purcellville, through an initiative of the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), is excited to announce the release of new stickers and car magnets representing the “brand” of Purcellville. In keeping with the common practice of abbreviating a name, the new brand is bold and simple: PVL. Along with the abbreviation, the new brand includes a marketing tagline: “Loudoun’s Rural Destination.” This brand was voted on by the public through Facebook and Polco, the Town’s online polling portal.

The Town of Purcellville has quickly become known as an ideal location for residents, businesses, and visitors. The Town truly is a destination for families; businesses who wish to start and expand; and visitors who seek to experience the best in shopping, dining, and craft beverages.

Through this branding effort, the Town has created oval car stickers and oval car magnets. With crisp and visible font, these stickers will promote and market Purcellville throughout the region and country.

Oval car stickers are FREE to anyone requesting them. You can pick them up at Town Hall – limit of five per person – and they will be distributed in “New Resident” information packets. Additionally, the stickers will be given to local businesses to distribute at their place of business for free to anyone who would like them.

Oval car magnets are $2 each and can be purchased at Town Hall at the Finance Department customer service window. Magnets will be sold to local businesses at a discount so they can also sell to customers or, at their discretion, give them away as promotional items.

Chris Bledsoe, Council Liaison to EDAC, said, “The new PVL brand for the Town of Purcellville is a great way to quickly and easily show our love for our small Town. We’ve already given away hundreds of stickers, and soon we’ll start seeing them throughout Town and the DC region.”

“I am excited about this new way to market Purcellville to the region,” said Browning Herbert, Chairman of EDAC. “We continue to be a great place to open and grow a business, and we have lots to offer from professional services to retail amenities to breweries and an award-winning distillery. Purcellville is THE place to own a business.”

Join your neighbors in picking up a PVL sticker or magnet today!

Find out more about Purcellville at http://www.purcellvilleva.gov/pvl




Keep Leesburg Beautiful Campaign Begins April 1

The Town of Leesburg’s 13th annual “Keep Leesburg Beautiful” community clean-up and beautification campaign will begin on April 1and will run the entire month of April.
 
Keep Leesburg Beautiful is an opportunity for all Leesburg residents to get involved in helping clean up the Town’s streets, alleyways and streams,” said Mayor Kelly Burk. “I invite everyone to join us, the Leesburg Town Council, in picking up trash around town.   Come down to Town Hall for free orange vests, gloves and bags, join with your family, a church group, a civic group, or by yourself to pick up trash and help keep Leesburg beautiful.”

Again this year, the Town is asking for particular assistance with storm sewer inlet inventories. Last year, 119 people walked their neighborhoods and noted inlets that were blocked by vegetation and debris or needed repair. The Public Works and Capital Projects Department provided them with maps and inventory forms. After they returned the completed forms, the Street Division used that information to dispatch crews to address problems.
 
“Last year, volunteers identified 35 inlets that needed to be cleared or repaired,” said Renée LaFollette, Leesburg’s Director of Public Works and Capital Projects. “Blocked inlets are a primary cause of localized street and yard flooding during rainstorms. With over 6,000 storm sewer inlets in the Town, Town staff are hard-pressed to inspect every inlet, so these volunteer efforts go a long way to improving stormwater management in the Town.” For more information about the storm drain inventory program, including how to sign up, visit the Town website at www.leesburgva.gov/KLB.
 
The other major Keep Leesburg Beautiful program is litter collection throughout Town. Residents, neighborhood and community groups, and businesses are encouraged to participate by forming teams to collect litter along roadsides, stream beds and other public common areas. Groups and individuals interested in participating should visit the Town of Leesburg website for details about how to volunteer and suggestions for litter collection locations. The Town of Leesburg will provide safety vests, gloves and trash bags and will collect the filled bags and larger items like tires and appliances.
 
Each year, the Leesburg Town Council and Town staff hold a clean-up challenge as part of Keep Leesburg Beautiful month. The winners receive the “Golden Trash Can” award. Last year, the two groups collected a combined total of 1,520 pounds of trash. 




Purcellville Named Tree City USA

The Town of Purcellville has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.  This is Purcellville’s 10th year achieving this national recognition.
 
Mayor Fraser stated, “The Town of Purcellville takes great pride in this distinction as it confirms our commitment to the environment and the value of having a green and healthy community.”

Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers and committed citizens in communities like Purcellville make smart investments in urban forests,” said Matt Harris, Chief Executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.

Trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits. 

Tree City USA is a national program that began in 1976.  It is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.  More information about Tree City USA can be found at www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.




Purcellville Seeks Win-Win Options for Fireman’s Field

“Looking at options here, we can stay status quo and just get nothing for the property, or we can think outside the box.” – Council Member Ryan Cool

Fireman’s Field is 15.84 acres and is located at 20th Street and Nursery Avenue. It is made up of Haske Field, Fireman’s Field, Dillons Woods (where special events are held) and the Bush Tabernacle.

The Town paid $1.7 million for the property, has a 20- year note with zero percent interest and is 10 years into paying off the note. The land is in conservation easement (with the exception of Haske Field).

The Town of Purcellville currently receives little income from Fireman’s Field, and the Town Council is looking for ways to change that. This was a topic of discussion at the February 28 Town Council Meeting.

Said Council Member Ryan Cool, reiterating that there is a tax-exempt status on the property, “So, my job as an elected official is to not increase your taxes, but decrease your taxes.” Cool continued, “It is paramount, it is my job to be a good steward of your money and not spend it where it doesn’t need to be spent.

He continued, “We spend $284,000 on debt payment and we get back $46,200. There is a potential revenue source. If we just want to take on debt, take tax dollars to pay down debt, that is a really easy job as a government. Because we have the unlimited ability to tax – which I think is the wrong ability to have as a government. Looking at options here, we can stay status quo and just get nothing for the property, or we can think outside the box. The reality is we do have a massive debt,” said Cool.

Some of the costs of Fireman’s Field included the purchase price of $1.7 million, $1.6 million for the parking lot and landscape, $2 million for the Bush Tabernacle renovations, $658,485 for the stadium storage upgrades and $44,000 for the floor of the skating rink.

The current outstanding debt on the property is $3,630,860, financed at tax exempt status. This status limits the income the Town can receive from the property. But Town Manager Rob Lohr said the Town can either bring in a management company to run the entire complex (collect the revenue and then pay the company), or it can refinance.

Said Cool, “The purpose of this is to look at all options. “We have the opportunity to do that now. I would like to see some reduction or elimination of the Fireman’s Field Tax District (currently 3 ½ cents per $100).”
Cool recommended three options:

  • The Town can take over and have staff manage Fireman’s Field. This would be too much of a burden on staff.
  • The Town could solicit an RFI [Request For Information] to firms to see who is interested in the management.
  • The Town could have a management company come in and manage Fireman’s Field.

Council Member Kelli Grim said that the Town was headed in a positive direction. “We need to solve the tax exempt restrictions of the debt. Going out for an RFI does not eliminate the current management of the Bush Tabernacle. They can participate or expand or partner with another organization. We are not trying to exclude anyone. We are opening the broadest tent to overcome a situation that we didn’t create. We can’t sit and do nothing. If we continue on the path we are on, we the citizens will be poorly represented.”

Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson said that the County, who manages Fireman’s Field, charges everyone to use it and “they can’t tell us what they are charging.” She said, “The arrangement of the tax-exempt bonds we have, constrict how much we can charge someone to rent these facilities and that really hampers us.” Jimmerson said that if the Town could find someone who could manage the rental of the property, “we would actually get the income.”

In a social media post Mayor Kwasi Fraser wrote, “My recommendation at our last council meeting was to determine via a Request for Information what opportunities may be available to the citizens of Purcellville to generate revenue in excess of the budgeted $46,200 annual rent currently paid by Mr. Message’s organization [for the Bush Tabernacle] and $0 rent paid by the County for the field. In addition, the town is responsible for all major repairs to the facility. Given that the citizens of Purcellville contribute almost $284,244 annually to service our Parks and Recreation debt, that we have an upcoming 2021 balloon payment of $1.6 million, and that we have a tenant paying $46,200 annually for an 8,500 square foot facility which was renovated with $2 million of our taxpayers’ money, we absolutely owe it to our citizens to determine if better opportunities with both economical and recreational value to our community exist.”




Purcellville Parent Challenges “Fly-By Drivers”

327 school-age children died in school-transportation related crashes in the United States from 2003 to 2013. Local newspaper headlines report a September of 2016 accident involving an LCPS school bus with six children aboard, another accident in December of 2016 and a third hit-and-run incident in January 2017.

No deaths were involved in the Loudoun County headlines cited here.

But, behind each school bus fatality is a devastated family. And, behind every near miss is the hidden agony of the concerned school official or shaken parent – both of whom know that next time they might not be so lucky.

Enter Purcellville parent William Baker, a father of four who, since October of last year has been sounding the alarm about “fly-by” or “stop arm” violators – drivers who fail to stop for school buses. And, although Baker says he has meet with tremendous apathy, he is not about to give up.

In a 2015 survey, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation found that over 78,000 drivers broke the law by illegally passing a stopped school bus. The survey – recording stop arm violations identified by bus drivers themselves –translates nationally to more than 13 million violations in a single school year.

Baker is personally concerned about the bus stop at the end of his driveway on Purcellville Road. Two of Baker’s children, ages 6 and 8 catch the bus at about 7:30 a.m., and his 16-year old catches the bus at about 8:30. Since October of last year Baker has personally witnessed, reported and documented at least a half a dozen stop arm violations.

Although school officials express concern, they have done nothing to address the problem directly, says Baker. He has also communicated with Barbara Comstock’s office, Dick Black’s office, Dave LaRock’s office and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office. The LCSO has helped with extra patrols and following through with at least one offender. Several legislative offices have responded to Baker, and he is waiting to hear from others. He has also made contact with school bus safety advocates in Falls Church, which uses a Stop Arm Camera Program to catch potential offenders. This may be Baker’s most fruitful avenue; but the waiting and constant follow-up, is difficult.

After all, passing a stopped school bus is against the law in Virginia. If convicted, the driver can be charged with reckless driving (VA 46.2-859) – a class 1 misdemeanor which carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and six months in jail. Alternatively, the infraction can be treated as a traffic law violation (VA 46.2-844), which carries a maximum fine of $250. Both infractions also earn the driver heavy VA driving record penalties.

So, Baker persists, saying: “The problem here is my 6 and 8 year-old must cross that open lane to board the bus.” This parent is intent on making noise until he gets results.




Middleburg Concert Series Opener Features Hollywood Classics 

The first 2017 concert of the Middleburg Concert Series will feature both classical and popular movie themes. The concert will be on Sunday, March 26,at 4:00 p.m., at the Middleburg United Methodist Church, on the corner of Washington and Pendleton Streets.

Music has always played a vital part in film, featuring compositions by modern composers such as Burt Bachrach, John Williams, Marvin Hammlisch as well as traditionally classical pieces by composers such as Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. Returning for the March concert by popular demand is Abbey Foy Middleton, the beautiful soprano who charmed the audience at the Broadway Medley concert last June. She will be joined by concert pianist Anna Nizhegorodtseva, who received three standing ovations at the inaugural concert of the series in March of 2015, and Los Angeles Opera baritone, Russell Rinker. Also performing will be Concert Music Director, cellist and Shenandoah Conservatory Arts professor, Alan Saucedo; Musicians in Residence, violinist and Shenandoah Conservatory Faculty member, Cynthia Saucedo; and Middleburg United Methodist Church Music Director and Hill School music teacher, Karen Chase.

Abby Foy Middleton is a graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and has performed in numerous operas, operettas, and traditional musicals. Her roles have included Liesl in The Sound of Music, and Marian in The Music Man.

Russian born pianist Anna Nizhegorodtseva holds degrees from Novgorod Glinka State Conservatory and a doctorate from Catholic University. She has won numerous international piano competitions. In a previous appearance with the Concert Series she exhibited a truly magical touch on the keys of the 1927 Steinway Concert Grand Piano.

Russell Rinker is a graduate of William and Mary with a degree in music and theater. He is a long time member of the famous Blue Man Group and has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and on TV shows such as Arrested Development and The Tonight Show.
  
There will be a reception with light refreshments to meet the artists immediately after the concert. In keeping with the movie theme the reception will be sponsored by the Popcorn Monkey. Admission to both the concert and reception are free. Donations are welcome. For further information e-mail middleburgconcertseries@gmail.com or call 540-303-7127.




Large Garage Fire in Lovettsville Spreads to Nearby Woods

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s investigation determined Wednesday’s garage fire that spread into nearby woods was accidental, resulting from an electrical failure, and estimated damages at $135,000.

Just before 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 8, the Loudoun County Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call reporting an outside fire in the 12000 block of Beech Grove Lane in Lovettsville. The initial caller reported seeing smoke, and eventually flames, coming from the wooded area to the rear of the structure. When the first engine arrived to investigate, crews encountered significant fire conditions coming from a large garage and fire spreading rapidly into the wooded areas of the property. The call was upgraded to a structure fire bringing additional units from Lucketts, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Philomont, Aldie, Purcellville, and Frederick County, Maryland.

The property’s location in a non-hydranted, and forested area required additional water tankers and smaller brush trucks for access. The brush trucks and wildland support unit are equipped with specialized tools and equipment for fighting wildland fires.

As firefighters attacked the fire in the garage, they simultaneously protected the adjacent single family home from heat and fire with additional hoselines. There were no residents home at the time of the incident however a pen containing two goats was next to the fully involved garage. Firefighters rescued the two goats, Gunther and Bo, from their pen and relocated them out of harm’s way.

The crews worked for an extended period of time to ensure extinguishment of the garage fire and the fire that spread to adjacent woods.

The Fire Marshal’s damage estimates were set at $135,000 to account for $35,000 worth of contents inside the garage as well as the structure itself. There were no injuries to any civilians or firefighters as a result of the incident.

Photos courtesy of LCFR

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Purcellville Man Hits It Right: Gets Front Row View at Inauguration

When Purcellville businessman John Fuog suddenly received an invitation to participate in the Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump less than three weeks before the ceremony, he had no idea he’d end up with one of the best ring-side views. Not only did he end up on Pennsylvania Avenue, but adjacent to the President’s reviewing stand.

It all started when he received the invitation from a member of the Presidential Inaugural Committee whom he did not know. “The PIC was looking for volunteers to assist in the events,’” Fuog told the Blue Ridge Leader.   “I was very proud to be a volunteer, and it was a great opportunity.”

When Fuog responded to the invitation, he received a questionnaire from the U. S. Secret Service, and a request for a picture. Then just five days before the Inauguration, he received clearance, and was asked to report to the Commerce Department early on the morning of January 20.  He found scores of other volunteers there, and Fuog wondered what kind of task he would be assigned to.  It turned out he would be along 15th Street.  Later, a supervisor put out a call for volunteers to “go to another location.”  The supervisor didn’t say where, but Fuog and about five others were delighted to comply, and were directed to another federal building.

So, he was ready for the Inauguration, and was responsible for checking badges for seating and close-in standing at the Inauguration.  He worked the entire day at Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street. “I met many military personnel, Secret Service officers, law enforcement officers from all over the nation. The highlight of my day was being just 30 feet away from the President and his family and Vice President Pence and his family,” Fuog said.  “I was very proud to be a part of this momentous day.”




Hillsboro Planning More Big Changes

By Amanda Clark

After recently expanding its boundaries, Hillsboro is set to initiate more changes for the community. At a Hillsboro State of the Town community breakfast and open house January 28, residents discussed what is in the offing.

The largest of the planned projects is the complete revamping of Main Street, which commuters know as Rt. 9. Some 16,000 vehicle trips make their way on Main Street each day, through the center of the hamlet. The aim of the reconstruction is to help drivers travel at reasonable speeds, while also providing parking areas, sidewalks, and raised crosswalks. Presently, construction is slated to begin in 2019, and be completed by late spring 2020. But the Town is working to accelerate the timetable.

Aside from a planned Post Office with its own zip code, the other major project is a new water and sewer system. By Fall of next year, Hillsboro residents will be able to drink the tap water without boiling it first.

Joining other residents at the January 28 breakfast were members of the Town Council, as well as Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins, Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington, Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock.

HILLSBORO
Photo (l to r): Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins, Center – Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and Blue Ridge Supervisor Tony Buffington




Vacant Chairs Remembered

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Expanded to 3,300 Acres
– By Andrea Gaines

On October 21, 1861, approximately 3,400 Civil War soldiers faced off on the Potomac River shoreline known as Ball’s Bluff, just north of Leesburg.
In a decisive Confederate victory, nearly 50 percent of Union soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

The battle cost the life of a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, Edward Dickinson Baker, the only sitting United States Senator ever killed in battle … but, spared the life of a young man named Holmes, Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes was wounded at Ball’s Bluff, again at Antietam, and a third time at Chancellorsville, surviving it all to continue his service to his country as one of the most influential Supreme Court Justices of all time.

These stories are known backwards and forwards by the relatively small number of Civil War historians who labor tirelessly to preserve history in all its forms for future generations. And, on January 11, 2017 – over 150 years since the Battle of Ball’s Bluff – these historians saw a very special dream come true when the United States Department of the Interior approved Loudoun County’s nomination to recognize thousands of additional acres at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield as worthy of National Historic Landmark status.

The action expands the 76-acre nationally recognized site to include 3,300 acres of riverfront land on both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the Potomac River, including Harrison Island, Maryland.

The expansion was lobbied for vigorously by the Loudoun County Heritage Commission under the direction of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, and received indispensable support from Friends of Ball’s Bluff Battlefield. Friends of Ball’s Bluff has worked with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to educate the public about the site, and to provide ongoing interpretations and publications that describe in detail how what happened there influenced trends and outcomes in the Civil War.

As a result of the Department of the Interior’s actions, the land and earth formations on both sides of Edwards Ferry Road, Federal positions above the Maryland shoreline, Harrison Island, and other areas now carry the formal historic designation shared by 2,500 sites in the United States. Other local National Historic Landmarks include Oak Hill (President Monroe’s home on Rt. 15), Oatlands, the George Marshall House in Leesburg, and the Village of Waterford.




Bluemont Fair Seeks Logo Design

Organizers of the 48th annual Bluemont Fair to be held September 16 and 17 in historic Western Loudoun County have invited artists of all ages and abilities to submit designs for consideration for this year’s logo.

The theme this year is “Haying”. Hay has been grown, harvested, and used since the first farmers came to Bluemont in the early to mid-1700’s, and can still be seen in all of its forms – growing, cut and drying, and baled – in the fields around the village. The theme is deliberately broad so that artists can interpret freely. Designs could reflect the act of haying, hay fields, the animals who eat/use hay, hay bales, pitchforks and other hay-related tools, or anything else that touches on hay and haying.

Multiple entries from individual artists are permitted. Submitted designs should be rendered simply and with minimal color to facilitate replication on Bluemont Fair’s distinctive poster, t-shirt, mug, etc. Artists should include a brief biography for inclusion in publicity, and contact information. The selected artist’s name will be printed on the poster and his or her work acknowledged in the fair brochure and publicity.

Artwork should be mailed to: Bluemont Fair Logo/Poster Design Competition, P.O. Box 217 Bluemont, Virginia, 20135 and must be postmarked by April 2. Individuals requesting return of their submission should also include a self-addressed, stamped mailing receptacle. For further information or to arrange for in-person delivery of an entry, call 540 554-2367.




Hugh Forsythe Appointed Interim Leesburg Town Council Member

Mr. Forsythe will serve until a special election is held November 7, 2017.

At the Jan. 9 organizational meeting, the Leesburg Town Council appointed Hugh Forsythe to fill the council seat vacated by Mayor Kelly Burk. Mr. Forsythe was sworn in immediately after his appointment and joined the council on the dais for the remainder of the organizational meeting and work session that followed.

Mr. Forsythe retired from the United States Air Force in 2006 at the rank of Major General. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Mr. Forsythe is a command pilot with over 4,500 hours of military flight time and 18,000 hours of civilian flight time. Following his Air Force career, Mr. Forsythe flew for United Airlines, Air India and a number of corporate and charter companies. He is currently an Operations Controller for United Airlines and consults with Bye Aerospace, Inc. on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle development. Mr. Forsythe was previously the Director of Operations for Potomac Flight Charter, located at the Leesburg Executive Airport. He is on the board of Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers and has served on the planning committee for the annual Leesburg Airshow. Mr. Forsythe and his wife, Judy, have lived in Leesburg for 20 years.

“I am looking forward to serving the residents of Leesburg to the best of my ability,” Mr. Forsythe commented following his appointment.