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A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

August 7, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith Be the first to comment
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By Amy & Dan Smith

What do you think of when someone mentions Social Security? Many people consider Social Security and retirement as one and the same. More than 90 percent of working Americans plan for Social Security to replace part of their current incomes when they leave the workforce. Sadly, what really happens is that, because of timing decisions, 75 percent of those already receiving benefits are drawing a reduced amount.*

Your benefits can be greatly affected by your specific circumstances during retirement. Your monthly payment amounts as well as your tax status can change if you decide to work part time or start a second career. There is also your and your spouse’s beneficiary eligibility to consider. … Continue Reading

The Marital Agreement

July 2, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on The Marital Agreement
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– 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 upon separation, divorce or death of the parties, including spousal support. The agreement and any amendment thereto must be in writing and signed by both parties. Commonly, lawyers will require a list of assets and liabilities of the parties as an attachment to ensure that the agreement has been entered into with full disclosure. Each of the couple should have his/her own lawyer to avoid conflict of interest.

There is understandably a resistance to the idea of a marital agreement. To say the least, it would likely steal some joy after the marriage proposal for one to suggest to his/her betrothed that, while intending to live happily ever after, they should discuss terms of divorce. However, there is a place for the marital agreement even if divorce is not considered an option for the couple. It is important, especially with second marriages and blended families, that the rights and obligations of the parties upon death be addressed, even if separation and divorce are not included in the agreement.

Each state has statutes giving rights to a surviving spouse to elect a portion of the estate of his/her deceased spouse and to override provisions in a will. Such an election can disrupt a well-considered estate plan intended to benefit the children of the decedent. A marital agreement can specify the rights of the surviving spouse in the estate of the deceased spouse in return for a waiver of the statutory right of election. It can also contain provisions concerning who may serve as agent under a power of attorney and medical directive and as executor of the decedent’s estate. These can be very divisive issues in blended families.

Often, parents want to preserve within their bloodline the inheritance that they intend to leave to their child. They may insist that their son or daughter enter into a marital agreement as a condition to marriage in order to be sure that “grandma’s silverware” doesn’t eventually end up with the son/daughter-in-law either through death or divorce. If a marital agreement is not possible, an alternative is for the parents to leave the inheritance in a trust for the child. Properly structured, the trust could provide the benefit of the assets to the child (and grandchildren) while withholding ownership so that the assets are not available to the son-in-law or daughter-in-law in case of divorce or death.

As uncomfortable as the topic of a marital agreement may be, the fact is that a discussion of sensitive topics before marriage can be a very healthy exercise. Attitudes may be revealed which had hitherto not been apparent in the bliss of infatuation, and thorny issues can be resolved before they are allowed to disrupt family harmony.

Children of a blended family are often comforted to know that issues pertaining to their potential inheritances have been addressed and are being protected by their parent. Sharing the existence of – and in many cases the details of – a martial agreement with children can help to dispel distrust of the stepparent.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice. For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP®, CIMA offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel.703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.

Challenges for Blended Families

June 3, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Challenges for Blended Families
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By Amy & Dan Smith

The blended family has become more the norm than the exception in our society. As with most second marriages, Amy and I came into our marriage with our own children, our own careers and our own estates. We have experienced the challenges of the blended family.
Typically, a parent in a second marriage has conflicting loyalties. There is the desire to provide for the well being of the second spouse while, often at the same time, there is a felt duty to preserve some part of the estate (especially, of that acquired before the second marriage) for his/her children of the first marriage. This conflict can be especially acute if there is a significant age difference between the spouses. Thus, the older spouse could provide a trust for the life of his/her spouse, but this could delay significantly the benefit to the children of the first marriage by many years. … Continue Reading

Planning for Lives after Death

May 5, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Planning for Lives after Death
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By Amy & Dan Smith

This past month I once again experienced life as prelude to practice. It started with an email two weeks ago from a hospice caregiver at my father’s request with words every child dreads: “Your Dad has asked me to write and tell you he thinks the end is near. He says you’ll know what to do.” What had been planned as a birthday celebration in Florida within 48 hours ended as a death vigil for my father. My immediate family members were gathered at my parents’ home to say good-bye. Dad died quickly and peacefully after struggling for years with chronic pulmonary dysfunction. Two of us were on either side of him holding his hands while he was sitting up on the couch, and we noticed that he had stopped breathing. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning For Life: Planning For The Unexpected

April 1, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning For Life: Planning For The Unexpected
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– By Amy and Dan Smith

Life-changing medical events of the past week have reminded me to not only review my plans but perhaps serve as a messenger for a “call to action” to any of you who think financial and estate planning is for the well-heeled or something you cannot afford or don’t need.
The situation happened quickly. I had visited my parents last month and, while chronic issues were evident, crisis did not seem imminent. Then one of my elderly parents began falling at home repeatedly. My other parent, also physically impaired, did not register the gravity of this matter and did nothing. My sister, arriving a few days later, immediately called 911, taking my parent to the hospital emergency room.

… Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders

March 4, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Even though U.S. equities still represent the single largest portion of the world stock markets, more than half of the world’s total stock market capitalization lies outside the United States, and economic growth rates outside the United States have in some cases exceeded that of the United States. Investors are beginning to consider diversifying their holdings beyond U.S. borders as a result. In the past, I have often recommended allocating no more than 10-20 percent of an investor’s overall portfolio to international funds. However, with the growth of global markets and the European Central Bank’s recent initiation of quantitative easing, many experts now suggest an even higher percentage can be appropriate given the right circumstances. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015

February 3, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Each year I read many market forecasts for the coming year from investment experts around the globe. Accordingly, I’d like to provide you with a recent article from Jeffrey Saut, Raymond James Chief Investment Strategist titled “Five Equity Market Themes For 2015”. (Readers may find the complete 2015 Outlook from Raymond James Investment Strategy Quarterly on my website www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com under “Market Views.”)

Lower Fuel Prices

This extended period of lower fuel costs should benefit companies that are dependent upon fuel as an input, such as the airlines, trucking and cruise lines, railroads, shipper, etc. Additionally, consumers are paying less at the pump and the hope is that those savings will now flow into other areas of the economy, like the consumer discretionary sector. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will

January 6, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will
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By Amy and Dan Smith

A will is a highly protected form of writing. The requirements for a valid will must not be casually regarded. With rare exception in Virginia, only the original of a will – not a copy – may be admitted to probate. To be admitted to probate a will must (1) be in writing, (2) signed by the testator (the person making the will) and (3) signed by two competent witnesses who were both present with the testator either to watch him sign it or to hear him acknowledge his signature. There is a popularly known exception for a will, which is entirely in the handwriting of the testator, called a “holographic” will. However, it is dangerous to rely on this exception because it is very narrowly applied by the courts.

The requisite formalities may not be strictly applied to wills made by persons in military service. Wills made by a person deemed of “unsound mind” or by a minor are not valid. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Explaining Process of Probate

December 10, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Explaining Process of Probate
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The term “Probate” derives from the Latin Probatio meaning “proof.” The term came to be applied specifically to proof of wills. In common practice, when a person dies, the proponent of a will takes it to court (usually a probate clerk) and “proves the will”; that is, the proponent submits the will as the true and authentic last will and testament of the deceased person (the “decedent”). In addition, a death certificate or an obituary notice must be produced and a “list of heirs,” which consists of the names and addresses of the people who would take an estate if the decedent died without a will.
The term “probate” now is commonly used to refer to the process of administration of a decedent’s estate whether he/she died with or without a will. If there was no will, the decedent is said to have died “intestate,” in which case the estate will pass to the “heirs at law.” Each state by statute lists the order of family members who will take the estate of a person dying without a will. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: The General Power of Attorney

October 1, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: The General Power of Attorney
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By Amy and Dan Smith

A power of attorney is a writing authorizing one person (the agent) to act for another person (the principal). The term “durable” is often used with power of attorney. This simply means that the power continues even if the principal becomes incapacitated. By law in Virginia now, all powers are durable unless they expressly state otherwise. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Do Not Resusitate Order (“DNR”)

September 3, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Do Not Resusitate Order (“DNR”)
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The DNR is a written order issued by a physician to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the patient in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. The DNR is now referred to officially as a “Durable Do Not Resuscitate Order.” The term “Durable” simply means that the order remains applicable even if the patient is for any reason incapable of making an informed decision. … Continue Reading

Healthcare Decision Making

August 6, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Healthcare Decision Making
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Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life
By Amy and Dan Smith

Because of the evolution of the law, documents relating to medical decision making have a variety of names, which together are confusing if not downright bewildering.

The Advance Directive, Medical Directive, Advance Health Care Directive, Medical Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, or Power of Attorney for Healthcare can all refer to a document wherein: 1) You instruct medical caregivers as to how you wish for them to proceed if you are in a condition in which you cannot make decisions or communicate your desires regarding medical treatment; and, 2) You appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf under certain circumstances. In addition the document may – and in current practice usually does – include Living Will provisions, which pertain to end-of-life circumstances. (The Living Will was discussed in our last column.) … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning For Life

July 3, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning For Life
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– by Amy and Dan Smith

I’m pleased to join Amy in this column. There are topics, which I know from my years of experience in the estate planning field are of interest to folks and which can be rather confusing. We’ll try to set forth information that is helpful, relevant and understandable.

To begin with, there is much confusion among the terms “Living Will,” “Advance Directive,” “Medical Power of Attorney” and “Do Not Resuscitate Order” (DNR). We’ll try to make sense out of all these terms over the next few columns.
One of the most frequent questions I get is “What is a living will?” A living will is one’s statement of intentions and desires regarding medical treatment at an end-of-life stage. Historically, it was a standalone document executed by the author with only his/her signature. While it can still be a separate document, the current practice is to include living will language in a longer form called an “Advance Directive,” “Medical Directive,” or a “Healthcare Power of Attorney.”
If the patient is capable of expressing his/her wishes during this end-of-life stage, then the living will is not operative. In such case the patient simply directs the caregiver verbally as to the desired medical treatment. For the living will to be relied upon by the medical caregivers, the patient must be “incapable of making an informed decision.”

… Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Not Your Father’s El Nino

15 Aug 2015

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NASA and other agencies now forecast the incipient El Nino conditions to continue at least into the winter and the early part of 2016. Figure 1 compares Pacific sea surface temperature anomaly for the El Nino of 1997- 1998 with …

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Ask Dr. Mike

At Wits End

7 Aug 2015

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Dr. Mike, My sister’s son is autistic, but she is in complete denial. I’ve done my research and he fits a diagnosis of autism. He is three years old and doesn’t talk or socialize. He has meltdowns that are out …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park

7 Aug 2015

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I think what strikes me most about this place – as over the top as it is in many ways – is how understated it really is; I know that’ll take some explaining. I’ve been to Morven Park hundreds of …

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Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

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– 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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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

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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

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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

What It Means To Be a Man

7 Aug 2015

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel As I have gotten older I have noticed that there are more and more young men who ask me for advice. To me it seems silly – I am often not much older than the person asking, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

7 Aug 2015

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By Amy & Dan Smith What do you think of when someone mentions Social Security? Many people consider Social Security and retirement as one and the same. More than 90 percent of working Americans plan for Social Security to replace …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

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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

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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

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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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Dinner and a Dive In

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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Mobile Hope’s “Back to School” Shopping Event Helps Loudoun Struggling Youth

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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

  • Merlis on Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers: Yes! What a great idea.
  • Mark Gunderman on Gifts Within: Second Mount Olive Baptist Church, located in Hamilton, VA, was founded in 1872. The congregation desires to exalt God and...
  • Kathleen Hannon on What It Means To Be a Man: Great article Samuel! We have two daughters and we try to teach them to look for qualities such as...
  • R. Ohneiser Esq. on Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers: Interesting discussion but let's consider how to actually resolve this problem permanently FOR THE BENEFIT OF LOUDOUN NOT JUST FOR...
  • Nan Siegel on Remembering Mabel: A lovely, heartfelt tribute. Though I never met Mabel, I think she must have had a wonderful life, full of...

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

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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

Getting Purcellville Out of the Conflicts of Interest Trap

7 Aug 2015

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Three Virginia laws address openness in government: the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), The Virginia Public Records Act (VPRA) and The Virginia State & Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (VCOIA). VFOIA guides how public bodies conduct their meetings and regulates access to government records. VPRA establishes basic rules about what constitutes a public record and what the government’s …

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Lifestyle

Loudoun Health Officials Remind Septic System Owners of Need to Pump Out

28 Aug 2015

Loudoun County Seal Color

The Loudoun County Health Department reminds owners of septic systems that routine pumping out of their systems can extend the system’s life and reduce the risk of untreated sewage surfacing or backing up into a house. Loudoun County requires owners of conventional onsite septic systems to have their tanks pumped out at least every five years. Tanks must be pumped …

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Historic Village Prepares for 46th Annual Bluemont Fair

25 Aug 2015

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The sleepy Blue Ridge village of Bluemont in western-most Loudoun County, Virginia, is bustling with activity as it prepares for the 46th ANNUAL BLUEMONT FAIR, September 19 & 20, 2015 from 10AM to 5PM both days, rain or shine. Admission is still only $5/adults, under 10 free, with free parking available. One-way traffic and crosswalks will be enforced in the …

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Register for Rally for the Cure™

24 Aug 2015

blueridge2

Want to participate in a fun tournament for a great cause? Then sign up to participate in the Stoneleigh Women’s Golf Association’s annual Rally for the Cure ™ golf tournament in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month! This is a great opportunity to play at the golf course recently cited as being the Prettiest Golf Course in Northern Virginia by …

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Wild Loudoun

Dragonflies – To See Is To Believe

7 Aug 2015

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Shadow Darner. Unicorn Clubtail. Black Shouldered Spinyleg. Blue Dasher. Ebony Jewelwing. Calico Pennant. Sanddragon. Their names conger up some magical place inhabited by devils and demons, elegant queens, daring lovers – creatures you would need to see with your own eyes to believe really existed. But, each of these, including the Calico Pennant, is actually one of the most common …

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Around Virginia

Congress and MWAA VS Loudoun Taxpayers

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By Delegate Dave LaRock It’s no secret that population growth and business development have left Loudoun County, especially busy areas to the east, with some pretty challenging traffic. The process of expanding the local network of roads and transit always seems to be playing catch-up, usually tied to availability of …

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Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

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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

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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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Sports

Drew Hunter Heading To Pan American Games

7 Aug 2015

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Loudoun Valley’s Drew Hunter placed second in the United States Track and Field 1500-meter run Junior National Championship. That earned him a spot on the United States Junior Team going to the Pan American Games in Edmonton, Canada in late July. Drew lost to college freshman Blake Haney of the …

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American Legion Post 34 Hosting Mid-Atlantic Regional Baseball Tournament

5 Aug 2015

americanlegionpost34

Batter up! Chartered in 1919 by an act of Congress, the American Legion is one of our country’s oldest, largest and most prestigious veteran’s organizations – dedicated to mentoring youth, sponsoring community programs, promoting national security and supporting veterans and members of the armed forces. Specific programs include scholarships, scouting, …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

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– 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

More Than a GPA

7 Aug 2015

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde In school we are measured in every way based on a number system from a point scale resulting in grades then translated into a GPA that can’t be easily fixed in just one semester. Students are forced to think that all they have to achieve is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

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– 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

Thank You Purcellville

7 Aug 2015

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I want to express my sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support by the local business owners and residents in relationship to my challenge to …

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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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