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Second Bull Run

Bull Run Creek

It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a bit skittish as I headed down that little dirt road to encounter the unknown. See – I’d looked as closely as I could at my computer mapping for the end of the line on Peach Tree Lane – way down on the Southern border of Loudoun County – and it looked as if the narrow gravel corridor just sort of dead-ended at the water line; driving to the spot that day, as I recognized some of the landmarks that signaled I was getting close, I slowed down to a crawl, and, as I rounded the last corner, my suspicions were confirmed: I’d found Bull Run Creek, alright – and I’d also found another location in our gnarly little locality where a roadway travels underwater. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Rotary Park

January 7, 2016 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Rotary Park
Rotary Park

I couldn’t help thinking, as I strolled around this little green space – with a basketball court on one end – that if Robin Hood and his band had wanted to do some hoopin’ out in Sherwood Forest, the setting may not have looked too much different than these immediate surroundings. Sure, they wouldn’t have had a paved street 10 yards from their playing area, and their wooded greenery – understandably – would have been much thicker and infinitely more expansive – but I don’t think I could find a ‘greener’ place for an impromptu game of buckets around these parts. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Lovettsville

December 2, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Lovettsville
Lovettsville

Historically quaint architecture, quiet side streets, grown-over vacant lots, views of the Blue Ridge – and entire neighborhoods of new homes planted into the mix; if Loudoun County is rapidly changing, the little Town of Lovettsville is experiencing its own building boom up in the northern section of the locality. The modest population level – approaching, at best estimate, the 2,000 mark – fails to rival that of Sterling or Broadlands or South Riding, but you get the feeling that it’s no longer a ‘sleepy little place,’ tucked far away from the rapid development in the busier South and East.

And, I guess that’s a large part of the attraction to live in this unique place: It’s still a very small Town by 21st Century Northern Virginia standards, it is far and away from the traffic on Route Seven or 28 or the Greenway – or the Leesburg Bypass – and that long line of mountains offers a constant – and consistent – visual backdrop as a geographic reminder of your place in the world. On these merits alone, I can understand why folks would choose Lovettsville as a place to raise a family. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Phil Bolen Memorial Park

bolen_park

I never knew Phil Bolen as the Loudoun County Government Administrator; I never even got to know him as Director of Parks and Recreation, and I certainly never knew Phil Bolen the teacher and coach at Loudoun Valley High School. No – the summer I moved to Loudoun County – July of 1997 – Phil Bolen was the beloved sportscaster at Wage Radio – formerly at 1200 on your AM dial. It was as if – to me – Phil had had only one occupation his entire life: that of scholastic sports announcing on our little, local radio station; if you ever heard one of his sportscasts, I’m gauging you know what I’m talking about. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Willisville

September 30, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Willisville
willisville

You may never feel the urge to travel to this little, unincorporated community; it’s not exactly a conduit for commuter traffic, and there aren’t really any places to shop, or gas up, or procure much of anything else from a consumer standpoint. Nestled in that No-Man’s Land between Round Hill, Middleburg and the Blue Ridge, Willisville is sort of tucked away in an area pretty much forgotten by time – and most of the rest of the county. And, I’m sure many of the folks who live down there will get along just fine if things continue this way for the foreseeable future; they’ve gotten this far without being on the cover of Rolling Stone, they’ll probably be OK on their own – and I don’t think they have a village press agent or anything to lure us out to the coming attractions. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve

September 2, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve
suzanne kayne nature

This innocuous little area lay smoldering in my semi-consciousness for several years – and after thousands of passings-by – I finally woke up one morning and just had to find out what was to be found out there. See – for the last half-dozen years or so, I’ve had to drive by the Suzanne Kane Nature Preserve and Chapman DeMary Trail signs on my way to earning the daily bread at the Purcellville Postal Facility. Some mornings – not to mention late afternoons or early (or even late) evenings those formally-worded placards left no noticeable impression on my senses; I may have been on overload from the rigors and concerns of rural mail (and parcel) delivery. But I had made mental notes to check out this local resource at some point: I’d noticed the ‘cool-looking,’ shaded little picnic area behind the Inova Medical Offices off Hirst Road, I’d watched some of the ‘developments’ unfold on the other end of the Park and Trail off 21st Street, and I’d even seen a red fox high-tailing it into the brush a time or two along the South Fork of Catoctin Creek as it crosses Hatcher Avenue on the north side of town. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park

August 7, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Morven Park
morvenpark

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 times (for radio interviews and news stories, and I even directed a couple of Shakespeare productions on the grounds), so it’s hard to approach the site without some (or a lot of) preconceptions; that said, a quiet, overcast, weekday morning visit allowed me to walk through the gardens and grounds in complete solitude – as if I were sole owner and proprietor of the castle-like mansion and the surrounding thousand-plus acres. … Continue Reading

Mount Zion Church

July 1, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Mount Zion Church
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 one of those who get all excited and goosepimply when you’re told that such and such happened here on such and such a day in history – it’s the here and now that count for making our march forward in time and human progress. Well, I’m not sure that I can provide a definitive, mathematical proof to show the overwhelming merits of either side of this one; I do know, though, that I felt a renewed sense of self and my surrounding world after my morning photo shoot and stroll around the property at the Historic Mount Zion Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery in the southern part of our county.

No – there’s no Hollywood movie about the events that occurred at this site just off Route 50 and Watson Road; tourists aren’t going to argue about the exact spot where Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise, or Johnny Depp saved the day from the bad guys in the film – because it was never made. And, on the day of my last visit (or on the first, for that matter), I’m not sure it would have added to my experience if the collective wisdom of our 21st Century American culture had somehow marked this specific geography’s place in history with their digital cameras; I was happy just to be able to share the space with the birds and squirrels (didn’t care too much for the insect population) and the whoosh of distant commuter traffic negotiating the new circles on Route 50.

Not that this place would make a bad movie: The church building – erected in the decade leading up to the War Between the States – saw quite a bit of history unfold inside its walls, upon its acreage, and within eye and ear shot on the surrounding countryside. I’m told by those who know a lot more about factual (as opposed to my natural tendency – poetical) history, that this property served as a meeting place and shelter for soldiers, as well as an impromptu prison – and, like many other buildings in this section of our country – a hospital for the wounded.

And if these events fail to impress, your history guide will point out that on a spot close to this ground in the summer of 1864 the Confederate Colonel John Mosby and his men (guerilla innovators that they were) defeated the Union troops led by one Major William H Forbes. In fact, it’s hard to spend any time in this part of Loudoun without noticing multiple references to the ‘Gray Ghost’ and his exploits in leading the 43rd Battalion of the First Virginia Cavalry. Say: – isn’t another name for Route 50 – just a few yards off the Mount Zion Church property – John Mosby Highway? Well, there ya go.

Returning to more general references to Mount Zion’s role in the Civil War, we’re told that a number of graves in the adjacent Cemetery contain the remains of soldiers who served in that conflict. Walking along the southern stone wall of the burial ground, I noted a few headstones outside the walled portion; my thoughts led to the easy conclusion: “These just predate the graves within the walls.” Pretty simple figuring, right?

Well, later, as I actually conducted some research on the place, I learned that the final resting places for at least 64 African Americans lie in that portion of ground. Now, the Northern Virginia Park Authority states that these graves remained unmarked. Not sure whose headstones those were, then. In any case, as you walk this property, the knowledge of the relative identities of those interred within or without the wall may affect your experience in some way. And, if your kids should happen to ask why some headstones are over here, in the woods, outside the ‘Cemetery,’ you can take the opportunity to share a bit of our country’s history. And its present – and how they connect. Or don’t. And, when Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise, or Johnny Depp (and the rest of the cast, for that matter) conduct their character research for the Hollywood Movie that may never exist on John Singleton Mosby, they will certainly have their hands full, and would bear a heavy responsibility, indeed.
So: Like I said at the top of the story – you’ve never given the American Civil War much thought? It’s not Gettysburg, but a visit to the Historic Mount Zion Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery can yet yield substantial rewards.

Brandon Park

June 3, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Brandon Park
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 – if you exclude the family of geese (who got their goslings into the water lickety-split for safekeeping). Brandon Park sits just off the junction of Catoctin Circle and Harrison Street – and the confluence of a couple of little waterways: Tuscarora Creek and the Town Branch, so it’s no surprise that lots of us may quite frequently pass this way, yet take it completely for granted without stopping for what Loudoun County is supposedly known for: a breath of fresh air. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Telegraph Springs Road

May 6, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Telegraph Springs Road
timjon

There’s one guy out here who proudly informs all visitors arriving at his locked gate (at the end of a short driveway) that he owns a firearm and a backhoe; I’ve got a mental note to avoid this address at all costs after the sun goes down. Speaking of which, there are any number of places along this little lane where you can stand transfixed by that circular yellow orb and the splashes of light created by the not-so-random intervening objects. Warnings, and sunlight: Two key components of a journey up or down Telegraph Springs Road – which runs from Purcellville down to its junction with Snickersville Turnpike a half-dozen miles or so to the South. … Continue Reading

Edgar Tillett Memorial Park

April 2, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Edgar Tillett Memorial Park
tim_jon_edgar_tillett

Whenever I’m at the edge of a woods – or other ‘wild’ place, I always find myself listening; I’m not sure where I picked up the habit – maybe my brothers, or father, or grandfather – or maybe from one of those other writer guys, like James Fenimore Cooper, or Hemingway- or even Ken Kesey. But, come to think of it, those guys were probably all listening for different things – and they might not have known what it was, either. But, sure enough, I found myself one recent foggy morning at the edge of a very undisciplined growth of trees and brush, and I caught myself: Standing there, breathing quietly, surveying the 60 or so yards into which my vision penetrated the darkness, listening and waiting. About all I heard was the nearby traffic on Belmont Ridge Road, and the occasional jet taking off or landing at Dulles Airport – and maybe a faint drip of melting snow and ice.

This was my first visit to Edgar Tillett Memorial Park – in Ashburn, just south of the Greenway. There wasn’t another soul utilizing the park that morning – they were all probably heading off to work – and, even if they had the day off, one of the last things on their agenda – likely – was traipsing around the half-frozen ballfields and scattered stands of trees at this neighborhood recreation area.

Those commuters had more important things to do than stand on the edge of civilization and await communication with the great mysteries to perhaps be discovered at Edgar Tillett Park. Not me. I had the day off, so there I stood… no, I didn’t receive any deep messages from beyond, or anything; I really didn’t experience a great deal in the way of excitement or drama – but I did feel the ice crunching under my boots, felt the cool, crisp damp air fortified by all the melting, and enjoyed quite a few minutes of the closest thing to solitude I could probably find this far from the Blue Ridge. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Now, I’m imagining that my experience on a summer Saturday afternoon would be quite different: All four ballfields would most likely be in use – maybe the park would even be hosting a youth athletic tournament of some sort, with families gathered from across the region to enjoy some friendly competition at this convenient site for such activities. The noise of play and the cheering of the crowd might even drown out the sounds of traffic from Belmont Ridge Road and that of the overhead planes from Dulles. All that activity might even give the scattered Saturday commuters a moment of pause as they headed for all that important stuff up or down the road, too. Yeah, if I were to pay a visit to this place on a summer weekend, during heavy ball-playing season, I may not even have a stray moment to catch myself listening for whatever it is that I listen for at the edge of those woods. Maybe ‘it’ wouldn’t even be there for me to listen for – who knows?

But, I’ll bet that it’s still pretty peaceful there on the mornings of those games and tournaments, and it might even be foggy on some of them, and, if a guy like me were to take an early stroll out there, he could even find himself standing on the edge of the woods, as if almost listening for something – even if it was something he couldn’t positively identify. And the traffic on the road and the planes in the sky would be all the sounds he could recall – other than, perhaps the echoes of last year’s ball games, or that lone tree falling in the forest which he needed to be present for to make audible, or maybe even the faint reverberations of that long-ago Big Bang from which we’re still evolving.

I suppose the ball players will continue ball playing, the commuters will continue driving, the planes will keep on flying, and me – I’ll keep on finding myself on the property lines of places like Edgar Tillett Memorial Park – listening for something I’ve never experienced.

Oatlands Mill Road

March 4, 2015 Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Oatlands Mill Road
oatland mills road

I’ve never joined in on the bird-watching activities in the big swamp off to the side of this little dirt road, and I’ve never seen the crumbling walls of the 19th Century mill site that sits on the bank of the nearby Goose Creek; I have, however, taken a good look at some of the historic buildings that lie a bit closer to the public right-of-way – and I’ve seen what changes can be wrought on its features by the cycle of seasons, or a particular misty morning, or brilliant sunset. Oatlands Mill Road only runs for something over a mile from Route 15 to its intersection with Gleedsville Road to the east, but its corkscrew corners, chuckholes and washboard surfaces may make it seem much longer by the time you’re on more reassuring surfaces. This short, dirt road harbors some treasures along the way, though; you can read internet documents about archeological research done on the Oatlands Mill ruins site back in the 1970’s (by the National Trust for Historic Preservation)- the structure once stood tantalizingly close to today’s commuter corridor of James Monroe Highway, just north of Goose Creek. … Continue Reading

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park

February 3, 2015 Columns, Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth Comments Off on Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park
timjon

I’m still curious to see if that little trail goes all the way along the Potomac to the eastern end of the Park; see, I’d left my car in the lot off Riverpoint Drive and walked along Goose Creek all the way to the meeting place with its bigger sister; I turned around at that point in order to keep an important appointment in Leesburg, but a substantial portion of me wanted to just keep going – into what was, for me – undiscovered, unexplored country. In planning this little excursion, the name didn’t sound real exciting on paper: Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park – or my access point: Kephart Bridge Landing – but, hey – what’s in a name? I was rewarded by my gamble that I’d be able to negotiate my way along the Goose and find its outlet into the Potomac River, and see sights along the way that could have been witnessed centuries earlier: Mature forest, an undisturbed river, and its often-rocky opposite bank. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

Columns

Asterisk No More

moore-sobelnewmug

By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Moods come and go, but greatness endures.” These prescient words were uttered by President George H.W. Bush, a man who knows firsthand the truth of his own saying. In 1992, President Bush garnered only 37 percent of …

Second Bull Run

Bull Run Creek

It may not have been a battle, but – seeing as how it was my second attempt at getting a good look at Bull Run Creek – coupled with the fact that I’m a native Northerner – I felt a …

Snowmageddon III?  Seven Survival Tips for Parents

Michael_Pic

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. “snOMG,” “snowmageddon,” “snowpocalypse,” and “kaisersnoze” are a few terms to describe what just happened in Northern Virginia. The storm was reported to be the second worst storm on record. And while many children and teens gladly …

What Is a Sport?

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde On January 10, hundreds of talented dancers from across the East Coast competed at the Universal Dance Academy Regional Championship at West Springfield High School. Tensions were high and the stakes couldn’t have been greater. What …

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn

Smith0035

It’s natural to be nervous when the markets head for negative territory. Keep a positive perspective with these six investing reminders. It can be very unsettling for investors when their portfolios and the markets start heading for the red and …

El Nino Evolution

Figure 3. Sea-surface height as inferred by by NASA satellites during the current El Niño (December 27, 2015, at left, from Jason-2) and at a comparable point during the last “super” El Niño (December 28, 1997, at right, from TOPEX/Poseidon). Warmer temperatures in the upper ocean result in higher sea-surface heights, as the seawater expands. In 1997, the above-average sea surface height was generally more intense and peaked in November. In 2015, the area of high sea levels was less pronounced but considerably broader. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. (see [4])

Figure 1 shows the annual global temperature anomaly since 1980 up to November 2015 using the NASA GISS data set [1]. NASA has not yet published December’s data though BEST has [2] and yes 2015 was the hottest year on …

Editorial

Grief and Greed

blueridge2

By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Oh No, It’s the Christians!

blueridge2

By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Job Well Done!

town of purcellville sign

Kudos to Town Manager Rob Lohr and his awesome hard working staff. You did a fantastic job of snow removal throughout the Town of Purcellville this past week. Mr. Lohr …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

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 …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016

eaglescout

Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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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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Calendar

February 2016
M T W T F S S
1 2 3

Loudoun Valley Boys Basketball Spirit Night at Coach's Corner

4

Music Together Classes - Winter Session

5

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

6

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

7

5K Race to Benefit Riverside High School Athletic Department

8 9 10 11

Music Together Classes - Winter Session

12

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

13

Loudoun Centre Theater: HAIRSPRAY

14

Gallery Coffeehouse: READERS THEATRE "LOVE LETTERS" BY A. R. GURNEY

15 16 17

Mad Cap Puppets: UNDER THE BONSAI TREE

18 19

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

20

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT: Year Of The Monkey

21

Loudoun Symphony presents A LITTLE CHAMBER MUSIC

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

Gallery Coffeehouse: THE COMEDY CULT IMPROV

22 23 24 25 26 27

THE EDGE: Malone Benefit Concert

28

Loudoun School of Ballet Winter Showcase

29 1 2 3 4

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

5

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

6

VSA of Loudoun Spring Musical: SPECTRUM’S JOURNEY

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theatre, 100 Lunches" by Jack Sharkey & Leo Sears

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Lifestyle

Creation and Evolution in Native American Spirituality

9 Feb 2016

turtle_swartz

In celebration of Evolution Weekend, an annual event led by clergy to encourage serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science, St. James United Church of Christ in Lovettsville has invited Roger and Deborah “Turtle” Swartz to guide a discussion of traditional Native American Spirituality and its wisdom in celebrating human relationship to the earth. In a …

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Run and Walk To Your Nearest 5K Pregame Event Happening on Super Bowl Day In Leesburg

3 Feb 2016

runandwalk

There is a new Running Company, the Pace Makers Running Company, in town and they are on a mission to help the local population with their health goals while raising money for selected charities. The race at The National Conference Center in Leesburg on February 7, is to help benefit the Riverside High School Athletic Department. The upcoming race on …

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Lovin’ Leesburg for All Its Beauty

3 Feb 2016

lovinleesburgrealestate1

By Hannah Hager We may be in the thick of winter, but this home on Cherry Spring Lane will melt your heart. Come spring you’ll fully be able to enjoy this simple, yet elegant brick home and its surrounding green pastures enclosed by miles of black wooden fences. Beyond your immediate yard are sweeping views of the mountains and valleys …

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Around Virginia

Education Savings Accounts Make Big Move in House

Dave_larock

The Virginia House of Delegates gave a strong push to House Bill 389, Delegate Dave LaRock’s (R-33rd District) innovative Education Savings Account legislation, as the House Education Committee voted 13-9 in favor of advancing the bill forward. “This is definitely an exciting development for parents and students in the Commonwealth,” …

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Kaine to Hold Hearing on Opioid Abuse

Kaine

On Monday, February 1, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, will hold a field hearing in Loudoun County to examine the ongoing fight against opioid misuse and abuse among older Americans. Kaine has met with families, law enforcement and business leaders across Virginia …

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Youth Can Apply for 2015 Livestock Exhibitor Scholarships

Virginia_seal

Youth who exhibited beef cattle, sheep, meat goats or swine in the 2015 State Fair of Virginia 4-H and FFA youth livestock program are eligible to apply for 12 new scholarships being offered by the State Fair of Virginia. Scholarships will be offered in three age groups: Juniors (9-12), Intermediate …

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Sports

Western Loudon Volleyball Club “Hitmen” Team Finishes Second

3 Feb 2016

westernloudounvolleyballclub

The Western Loudon Volleyball Club U14 boys team, called the “Hitmen,” finished second in a tournament held January 17. This is the first ever boys team for the WLVBC (and only the second boys club in the area). Coach Allan Kotmel led the seven-member team. WLVBC started eight years ago, …

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ODFC West Travel Soccer Program Shines

2 Dec 2015

ODFCsoccerpics

The Old Dominion Football Club West boys and girls middle school travel soccer program scored big the weekend of November 21 and 22.  The girls Quest Premier 22 team took home the championship in the U12 Girls Premier Division of the Hunt Country Classic located in Fauquier County. The boys …

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