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Are Pesticides in Nursery Plants Killing Bees and Butterflies?

June 3, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle 2 comments
honeybeeonlavender

The decline of monarch butterfly and honeybee populations has been evident for many years, as has the agriculture and gardening industries’ increasing reliance on a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics.

Gardeners committed to supporting monarch butterfly and honeybee populations typically avoid the use of pesticides, while at the same time stocking their gardens with the native flowers and plants monarchs and honeybees rely on. But, conservationists are urging consumers to read the label at their local nursery, as many common flowers and plants are grown with neonics. … Continue Reading

Talking Turkey

November 5, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Talking Turkey
turkeytalk

By Andrea Gaines
The turkey is a very delicious as well as a very popular bird.

The number of turkeys raised in Virginia is up three percent from 2013 to 2014 and now tops 16 million. The total number raised nationwide in 2014 is forecasted to be approximately 235 million, down two percent from 2013. The largest turkey-producing state is Minnesota, with Virginia ranking fifth and growing.

Today, consumers have many, many choices about what kind of bird they’ll enjoy on Thanksgiving – a fresh or frozen conventional turkey, an “organic” turkey (defined as a bird that has been raised on organic grain and which may or may not be “free range”), or a true free range bird (defined as one that has ample access to the outdoors and “raises itself” on a diet most natural to the species, including grubs and other insects). … Continue Reading

Loudoun Valley Community Center After-K Alligators – Hands On History Lesson

September 3, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Loudoun Valley Community Center After-K Alligators – Hands On History Lesson
LoudounValleyCommCtr_2

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI, the After-K Alligators of the Loudoun Valley Community Center in Purcellville, learned about efforts children their ages made during WWI to support the troops.

At the start of their school year, teacher Meredith Norbo taught the children about a U.S. Department of Agriculture program called the U.S. Garden Army. In 1917 children joined the U.S. Garden Army through their schools and were supplied with tools to create their own gardens at home. Thriving home garden plots allowed commercially grown food sources to be supplied to U.S. and allied troops overseas.

From classroom lessons to experiential learning, the After-K Alligators replicated the U.S. Garden Army program at the Loudoun Valley Community Center. Over the school year, the children created compost, cleared garden plots, weeded, seeded, and harvested their very own edible plants.

The Great War produced a timeless program with the U.S. Garden Army and the children of the Loudoun Valley Community Center have learned life skills in agriculture, nutrition, biology and fun.

LoudounValleyCommCtr_1

Local Authors Sign Books at Hillsboro Farmers Market at the Old Stone School

August 7, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Events, Farm and garden, Lifestyle, People Comments Off on Local Authors Sign Books at Hillsboro Farmers Market at the Old Stone School
Local author Bobbi Carducci signing a copy of one of her books during the Hillsboro Farmers Market at the Old Stone School

Reading enthusiasts had a wonderful time meeting local authors Bobbi Carducci and Marc Leepson during the Hillsboro Farmers Market at the Old Stone School on August 2. Additional activities for kids that focused on reading included storytelling lead by the Purcellville Library, a book sale from Around the Block Books, and a chance to talk with educational consultants with Usborne and Kane Miller children’s books.

Bobbi Carducci, Director of the Young Voice Foundation, had copies of two of her books on hand to sign. For young readers, she sold and signed copies of Storee Wryter get a Dog. She also had copies of her newly released book, Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver, available. Marc Leepson is a journalist, historian, and the author of eight books. His most recent book, What So Proudly We Hailed Francis Scott Key, A Life, is the first biography of the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in more than 75 years. Copies of that book and Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General were both available at the market to purchase and have signed by the author.

… Continue Reading

Watermelon – from Feta to Facials

August 6, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Watermelon – from Feta to Facials
watermelonfacial

Watermelon is an extremely nutritious summer food and beauty aide. It has lots of sugar in it, to be sure, but ounce for ounce there are also lots of good things in it for your body – including your skin.

Watermelon’s Nutritional Value

A single serving of watermelon provides you with about eight percent of your potassium needs for the day and seven percent of magnesium. That serving also provides a whopping 31 percent of your needs for Vitamin A and an even great percentage of Vitamin C – 37 percent. It is also a high-lycopene food, a carotenoid phytonutrient important for our cardiovascular health. … Continue Reading

Feed Loudoun – Fresh Food Drive

July 27, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Feed Loudoun – Fresh Food Drive
Photo attached courtesy Julia Brizendine: What is gleaning? It is the harvesting of food for the needy. This tradition goes back to ancient times when landholders allowed folks in need to harvest left-over crops. In eighteenth century England, the sexton would often ring a church bell at eight o'clock in the morning and again at seven in the evening to alert needy families when they were invited to collect crops. As a volunteer, gleaning is a fun, family activity that usually lasts no more than about 2 hours on a beautiful day. It is also a good activity for groups who are looking for community outreach projects.

Special report by Mark Gunderman

Photo courtesy Julia Brizendine: What is gleaning? It is the harvesting of food for the needy. This tradition goes back to ancient times when landholders allowed folks in need to harvest left-over crops. In eighteenth century England, the sexton would often ring a church bell at eight o’clock in the morning and again at seven in the evening to alert needy families when they were invited to collect crops. As a volunteer, gleaning is a fun, family activity that usually lasts no more than about 2 hours on a beautiful day. It is also a good activity for groups who are looking for community outreach projects.

Feed Loudoun, a non-profit organization of Loudoun County, will host a county wide food drive of exclusively fresh fruits and vegetables August 9th through August 16th.

Individual gardeners, farm markets and farmers are asked to donate their surplus fruits and vegetables to participating food banks.

Following a successful 2013 gardening season Feed Loudoun donated over 24,000 pounds of produce to local food banks in an effort to provide fresh nutritious food to those in need in the community. Feed Loudoun is an associated volunteer network with the national movement Plant a Row for the Hungry established by the Garden Writers Association. The total of donations for the Feed Loudoun 2014 Harvest will be added to the national Plant a Row totals for the “20 by 20” campaign where the national goal is to have 20 million pounds donated by 2020.

… Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun- Milkweed – Sustenance of the Monarch

June 3, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle 1 comment
milkweed

Where there is milkweed, there are monarchs. Sounds like a simple enough idea. Butterflies like flowers and milkweed is a flower. But the connection between the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant is as strong as the connection between you and the oxygen you take into your lungs every time you draw a breath.
Humans and monarchs live in the same world, but, we don’t use it in the same way. While you and I can survive in just about every climate on just about any kind food, and find shelter and successful ways of producing the next generation in, literally, billions of different ways, the monarch butterfly is quite different.

Adult monarchs can draw nectar – food – from a fairly wide variety of flowering plants: asters, goldenrod and bee balm, for example. But, as they leave their southern wintering grounds – including small patches of high forest in Mexico – and head north and east through Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia and beyond, they are 100 percent dependent on the milkweed plant. Female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and milkweed alone, and the tiny caterpillars that emerge from those eggs to take a fighting chance at life eat milkweed and milkweed alone. … Continue Reading

Gardening Tips, June 2014 – The Power of Natives

June 3, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Gardening Tips, June 2014 – The Power of Natives
gardentips

Natives – naturally occurring trees, flowers and grasses that a property owner might incorporate into their landscape – offer very special benefits to the environment. A really artful native plant landscaper or gardener will also help you understand that natives do not mean less in terms of the color, variety and structure that is portrayed in a planned landscape.

A “native” plant is used to describe trees, flowers and grasses that are endemic or naturalized to a particular area. They occur there naturally and/or because, with the help of a little human intervention, an area meets their needs for water, sunlight and nutrients allowing them to successfully establish themselves there. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Saving Lives in Vernal Pools

April 30, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Saving Lives in Vernal Pools

As winter surrenders its stubborn cold and spring gathers the sun’s warmth around us, vernal pools explode with the wonderful frogs and other amphibians that but for them would simply not exist.
“Vernal pools” – otherwise known as ephemeral or temporary pools – are large or small watery areas that appear in late winter to early spring.

They take many forms, from small woodland depressions, to larger areas that look like a typical wetland, to collections of water occurring around special geological features such as underground limestone formations. You might have a vernal pool on your property or have seen one … not really knowing you were looking at something very special and very important to nature – a patch of woodland that holds water as winter snows melt and early spring rains come our way, or a soggy, grassy area in a low spot on your lawn. Or, perhaps you walked by a place that despite the still chilly air had a haze of green life on it, even as winter had not yet fully departed. Or, a place that, as you drive by just after nightfall is filled with the sound of spring peepers – tiny, very vocal frogs sending out their calls to attract a mate. … Continue Reading

Transitioning from a Spring to Summer Vegetable Garden

April 30, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Transitioning from a Spring to Summer Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 3 Free Presentation ?By Loudoun County Master Gardeners

Come on out for free expert advice on how to prepare for summertime vegetable gardening at the Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ “Saturday in the Garden” program on May 3. The presentation will be held outside at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, 10:00 a.m. to noon. A Q and A in the vegetable area to ask general questions will be held after the talk. Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer questions concerning the ornamental areas of the garden. … Continue Reading

Gardening Tips, April 2014 – In Love with Cut Flowers

April 30, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Gardening Tips, April 2014 – In Love with Cut Flowers
flower arranging

One of the rewards of gardening is bringing cut specimens inside, arranging them in your perfect vase and waiting for the compliments. If you don’t consider yourself an expert at flower arranging, don’t worry. The process of choosing the color, the flowers and the container is as much fun as looking at the final product. And, it’s easy one you’ve learned a few basics.

The Basics

What you’ll need: 1) a watertight vase or container deep enough to keep stems from flopping over; 2) a vase or container that will fits the length of the material you are using and will both complement the flowers and the spot where you plan to put the arrangement; and, 3) something to anchor the stems so they stay in place. … Continue Reading

Farmer’s Markets Sprouting Up Everywhere

April 30, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Farmer’s Markets Sprouting Up Everywhere
Pick your own

With its combination of health conscious families, agriculturally productive land and long time business that make a living off of that land, Loudoun County, particularly western Loudoun County is a spring, summer and fall mecca for fresh fruits and vegetable lovers. We have all become accustomed to the overwhelming plenty served up by local grocery stores – 12 months out of the year. But as the weather warms and greens start sprouting so do our local farmer’s markets, and the variety of produce available is unbeatable. … Continue Reading

Gardening Tips, April 2014

April 1, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Gardening Tips, April 2014
daffodil

Getting Ahead Of Those Garden Undesirables

It’s hard to imagine – after the winter we’ve had – that spring is here, or at least not far behind.

The weather is slowly getting warmer, the days are getting longer and the early daffodils and crocuses are forcing their way up, even if peeking out from of remnants of snow.

I’d be happy just to pull up a lawn chair, relax and enjoy spring’s arrival. But, I’ve made that mistake before, and, before I know it my wild mint has taken over, grass is sprouting up and smothering the daffodils, and tree seedlings, too, are taking hold in my garden. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015

noerpel150

“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

timjon

– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

timjon

Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015

donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015

moore-sobelnewmug

– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015

Smith0035

– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

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Events

August 2015
M T W T F S S
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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Spinners

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Live Music: Connor Duffy at North Gate Vineyard

Ronnie Milsap

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Live Music: Willie White at North Gate VIneyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Lovettsville Historical Society Lecture: "Hex Signs: the History and the Mystery"

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COFFEEHOUSE: LOVE, LOSS & WHAT I WORE

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Creedence Clearwater

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Emily Guagliardi Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Notaviva Vineyards Monthly Bluegrass Jam is BACK w/Short Hill Mountain Boys

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

blueridge2

Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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Editorial

How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Out?? A Summary Of Purcellville’s Sewer Debt And Strategic Solutions

1 Jul 2015

kwasifraser

– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

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Lifestyle

Artist’s Profile: Michele Sommers, Mural Artist – The Beauty Of Life, Evolving Over Time

2 Jul 2015

artist3

– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

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Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015

farmtofork

Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

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Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015

hillsborojuly3

Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

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Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015

wildloudoun

– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

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Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

governorsigns

On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

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McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia

McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

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Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending

blueridge2

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

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Sports

Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015

ULLLpic5

– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

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WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

thismonthhistory

– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

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Mary Rose Lunde

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

sarahcloset3

– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

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Letters

Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015

speak

With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

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Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

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Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015

Dave_larock

By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …

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