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Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel

August 7, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel
File:Actias luna in Florida.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encycloped

I’ve seen a luna moth “in the flesh” several times, one time in the most unusual of places.

The first time I saw one I was driving down a quiet dirt road at night when a large, cool green-winged thing landed on the hood of my car.

I had a passenger with me and I must have scared her as I slammed on my breaks, jumped out of the car and exclaimed, “It’s a luna moth! It’s a luna moth! I can’t believe it! I have never seen one before!”

Unlike most moths – which often flutter furiously when encountered – the luna moth paused where it had landed and then ever so slowly floated away into the dark woods on the side of the road.

The next encounter was the most unusual one. Coming out of a Purcellville convenience store late one afternoon I noticed a luna moth resting on the side of a brick wall. I tried to interest another passerby in my sighting, and they actually seemed pretty surprised, if only for a moment. … Continue Reading

Free Gardening Lecture – Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting)

July 28, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Free Gardening Lecture – Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting)

Join Loudoun County Master Gardeners at their monthly lecture series at the Rust Library in Leesburg on Thursday, August 8, at 7:00 p.m. Are you interested in being part of a community that is helping to preserve unusual and heritage vegetables and flowers by collecting seeds? Seed saving is a cost-effective and rewarding pastime and Michael Neese will tell us how to go about it in his talk “Saving and Organizing Seeds (and Composting).”
Today, heirloom seeds are readily available but that was not the case when Mr. Neese was starting a vegetable garden and wanted to buy local heirloom seeds suitable for his microclimate. Instead what he found was a generous community of “seed savers” who not only freely gave him seeds but also shared their collective gardening wisdom. That experience led him to organize a seed exchange at his church that has now become an annual event and to share his gardening knowledge in the community too. Mr. Neese, has founded many community gardens in the Winchester area, is active in numerous community organizations and serves as Winchester’s Recycling Coordinator. In his words, “If you don’t see the change you want in life, start it.”

For more information about the Loudoun County Master Gardener program, visit www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Bear Spotted In Lincoln

July 17, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden Comments Off on Bear Spotted In Lincoln

This picture was taken just days ago on Sands Road in Lincoln. Another bear … perhaps the same one … was spotted further north in the direction of
Purcellville approximately two weeks ago. If you feed the birds (or your pets!) in your yard, on your porch or in your barn, experts advise you to
bring the food inside at night. Let’s enjoy our wildlife! But these easy steps will help prevent the bears from relying on easy food sources.”

Saturdays in the Garden with the Loudoun County Master Gardeners

July 5, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Saturdays in the Garden with the Loudoun County Master Gardeners

Come on out for free expert advice on vegetable gardening at the Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ “Saturdays in the Garden” program Saturday, July 20 with a talk on “Managing Insects in the Vegetable Garden”. The program is held at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, 10:00 a.m. to noon. The talk will be followed by a question and answer session with experienced Master Gardeners. … Continue Reading

Wildflowers … Nature’s Buffet Table

June 4, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wildflowers … Nature’s Buffet Table
Birdsfoot Violet 2 by MAG

Wildflowers delight the senses in so many ways. They present us with exquisite colors and delicious scents. Sometimes you want to reach out and touch their soft or spiny leaves and blossoms – just to imagine what it would be like to be them, swaying in the breeze or carpeting a forest floor.

But, nature is a both a beautiful and a practical sort. The bee, the butterfly or other insect, the bird, or the small mammal might be alerted to a wildflower because of its color or scent, but it goes there for the nourishment the plant provides.

Indian Pipe (or “Ghost flower”): This is a beautiful and very unusual wildflower that grows in the shade on forest floors. It lacks chlorophyll, the green substance plants create from the sun, and so it is white – occasionally with black flecks or a blush of pink. It secures its nutrients from the fungi associated with different types of trees. Butterflies and small bumblebees feed on the Indian Pipe flower’s nectar. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Flight of the Monarch 3,000 Miles on the Wing

May 1, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle 3 comments

What is more arresting … the warm kaleidoscope colors of a Monarch butterfly’s wings, or the mind-blowing fact that the insect you are looking at might have flown 3,000 miles to get where it is?

Monarch butterflies start out life as tiny, fragile eggs laid on the underside of a milkweed leaf – eggs just about the size of a sesame seed. Female Monarchs rely exclusively on milkweed to lay their eggs. Part of a survival strategy, milkweed contains a natural toxin that makes Monarch caterpillars and adults inedible, or at least unpalatable, to predators.

Four days or so later the life force in the egg produces an inconspicuous little “worm.” But, with the milkweed’s leafy nourishment, that worm will grow into a chubby and very distinct green and black striped caterpillar – a voracious eater on it’s way to gossamer wings. … Continue Reading

23rd Annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival

April 18, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on 23rd Annual Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival
flower and garden

Historic Leesburg will once again be in full bloom as lush landscapes and gorgeous gardens fill the streets. On April 20 and 21, over 150 vendors will be on display featuring landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and so much more. Stroll through the streets and take in the sights and sounds of spring-time. Whether gathering ideas for your new outdoor patio, stocking up on gardening supplies, or searching for a perfect gift for the avid gardener in your life, this event will have something for everyone! The event runs from 10:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p,m, on Sunday.

For a taste of Loudoun County’s garden bounty, be sure to visit the Beer and Wine Garden located on Town Green. This tasting area will feature some of Loudoun County’s best wineries and breweries. Take home a commemorative glass and bottle of your favorite vino to enjoy after the festival concludes. Breweries to be featured include MacDowell Brew Kitchen/ Mud Hound Brewing Co., Lost Rhino, Starr Hill and more. Wineries include Bluemont Vineyards, Little Washington, and 868 Estates.

“The Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank: Native Plants and Natural Channel Design”

March 27, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on “The Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank: Native Plants and Natural Channel Design”

Join Loudoun County Master Gardeners at their free monthly lecture series on Thursday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Rust library, 380 Waterford Road NW, Leesburg.

Mike Rolband, President of Wetland Studies and Solutions in Gainesville, will discuss the creation of the Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank, which to date has restored 45,000 linear feet of degraded streams in Reston. His presentation will focus specifically on native planting and restoration techniques that have contributed to the environmental success of this project. Reston is a unique urban space that is home to many species of bird and other wildlife that might have been threatened by the project, but in fact, the project has earned accolades from various conservation groups such as the Northern Virginia Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the Northern Virginia Soil and Water ConservationDistrict. Please join us for another interesting talk.

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County Master Gardener program, visit www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Master Gardeners Announce Annual Gardening Symposium

March 9, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Events, Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Master Gardeners Announce Annual Gardening Symposium

Master Gardeners Kick Off Spring Gardening Season

Loudoun County’s Master Gardeners kick off this year’s spring gardening season with their fourth annual symposium packed with topics ranging from “Ten Steps to a Greener Lawn” to “Have Your Yard and Eat It Too.”

Registration is open now for the event, which will be held at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg on April 6 and 7.

“We have a wonderfully diverse group of speakers this year, each with a deep knowledge of subjects near and dear to the hearts of gardeners and nature lovers,” said Becky Phillips, a veteran Master Gardener and the symposium chairperson. “Anyone who attends will walk away educated, entertained and inspired.”

… Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun – Our Magnificent Backyard Birds

March 5, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun – Our Magnificent Backyard Birds

Looking out my snowy, overcast window in late February I was transfixed by the incredible color pecking and swooping and snacking at my backyard birdfeeder. I’ve seen perhaps dozens of species of birds on this farm. And, although it is a real thrill to see a soaring red-shouldered hawk or late night owl, it is equally captivating to watch common, everyday wild backyard birds feasting on the mix of sunflower and safflower seeds in my birdfeeders. … Continue Reading

Free Garden Lecture – Alien Weeds, Art from the Invasive Plant Harvest

February 13, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Free Garden Lecture – Alien Weeds, Art from the Invasive Plant Harvest

Join the Loudoun County Master Gardeners at their monthly lecture series on Thursday, March 7, at 7:00 p.m. at the Rust Library, 380 Waterford Road NW in Leesburg. This month’s topic is “Alien Weeds: Art from the Invasive Plant Harvest”. The guest speaker is Patterson Clark, an artist and naturalist who writes and illustrates the “Urban Jungle” weekly natural history column for the Washington Post when he is not out pulling invasive weeds in DC area parks with park permission and creating art from his harvest. His invasive weed pulls have an unusual twist: instead of composting or throwing out the weeds, Clark creates paper, pens, ink, artwork and even brushes from his weed crop. He began to experiment with making paper from the fibers of English Ivy, Rose of Sharon and garlic mustard. That led to making inks from white mulberry, honeysuckle and wineberry. His brushes, described as “crude but useful” are made from fibers in the bark of porcelainberry and multiflora rose. Mr. Clark has a Master of Fine Arts from California Institute of the Arts and a BA in Biology and Art from Hendrix College. His artwork can be viewed at www.alienweeds.com

For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County Master Gardener program, visit www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Honors Given to Loudoun County Master Gardeners

January 2, 2013 by Contributor Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Honors Given to Loudoun County Master Gardeners

More than 40 Loudoun County Master Gardener volunteers received state and local honors this year for their service and dedication to the goals of the county Master Gardeners program and the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE).

Loudoun County Master Gardeners is an organization of trained and certified volunteers dedicated to encouraging and promoting environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management educational programs. … Continue Reading

Wood Ducks

December 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wood Ducks
Drake and Hen

By Andrea Gaines

There’s a wide rambling creek and large wetland area near my house, about 3 1/2 miles south of the town of Purcellville. The creek is called Crooked Run, the same small waterway that runs through some of the last remaining farmland in the town, Crooked Run Orchard. It is part of the larger Goose Creek system of Loudoun County waterways and connects to both the Potomac Watershed and the Chesapeake Bay.

One late spring morning I was walking along a dirt road there, and glancing towards the trees edging the wetland, I saw a large bird emerge out of a hole in a dead tree and float in a half-graceful-half-plunge to the shallow water below. The bird hit the water and joined what looked to be a mate, disappearing into some marsh grass. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015


“[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


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


– 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


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


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


– 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


– 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


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


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


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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August 2015

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck


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



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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Ronnie Milsap


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Creedence Clearwater


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Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


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View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015


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

1 Jul 2015


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

2 Jul 2015


– 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


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


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


– 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


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


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


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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Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015


– 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


– 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


– 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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Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015


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


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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