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Blue Ridge Leader News – January 17, 2010

News for Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Our Neighbors- so near, and yet…

As we watch the tragic story in Haiti, you might want to direct a few thoughts and prayers for some local heroes over the next 10 days or so- as they continue to offer help in that country. The Fairfax Urban Search and Rescue Squad sent two separate teams to offer earthquake relief- totaling some 110 individuals and a number of canines to help in the efforts.

Let’s hope they can continue to rescue live victims- as long as life holds out.

This is the fifth day since the devastation started to unfold- a very long time for humans to remain trapped under buildings turned to rubble.

The Fairfax Teams have members from Loudoun County- and they’ve offered their services in many other disasters of recent memory: in Haiti, just over a year ago answering a call for help in a school collapse; previous earthquakes in Pakistan, Turkey, Peru, Taiwan and Iran; Hurricanes Katrina and Isabel- as well as other natural and man-made tragedies.

The Teams generally bring enough supplies for a two-week mission- and they also have their own physicians, paramedics and structural engineers as well as search ‘n rescue technical personnel.

They represent part of mankind’s greatest attributes: the willingness to help others in need.

They deserve our blessing.

The Rescue Offices in Fairfax recommend anyone wishing to donate go to the website for the US Agency for International Development: www.usaid.gov.

The Price of a Good Education

OK, I’m sure you know all the ABC’s by now for the proposed School Budget for the next working fiscal term. The Superintendent fleshed out the plan for pretty much sticking to the current financial picture; you might think this is a minor miracle in the face of the current monetary situation for the County and

Commonwealth (and the country, for that matter).

Some will think it’s sheer idiocy to consider a five percent funding increase for the next fiscal period; the proposal seems to gain a little wisdom when you figure that the public school system grows by about 3,000 kids a year.

Or not.

Maybe only the uneducated can truly understand the intricacies of the incumbent responsibilities of local taxpayers to fund the schools.

Sometimes, it truly seems that way- or at least sounds that way if you listen in at the public input sessions.

Talk about your two cents’ worth.

Well, anyway, one concession already fronted by Superintendent Ed Hatrick is a small bump in bigger class sizes- to cut down on the need for quite so many new teachers in the upcoming budget period.

That’ll help some, but since the County Board still faces close to $200 million in shortfalls (yeah, that’s a lotta change), and since the School Budget swallows over two-third’s of the local tax pie, he may have to do some more paring before they settle on anything like common ground.

And if that sounds too complicated, don’t bother going to the public hearings on this stuff.

It’ll make your head reel.

So, how much would local taxes have to go up in order to fully fund the school budget?

Haven’t figured that one out yet, that’s the County Board’s job; don’t think that they’re gonna go for it, though.

One thing’s sure: there’ll be plenty of squakin’ between now and April Fool’s Day (the approximate date the Supervisors target for setting the budget and tax rate; I’ve learned to appreciate the irony- or is it a Freudian slip showing through the Emperor’s New Pajamas?).

A Giant Stumbles

I’m sure that the local employees affected by the latest cuts at AOL already got their ‘pink slips’ as a way to ponder their Independence Day just after New Year’s celebrations. Hope it turns out to be a Happy one for them, in the long run.

Losing what you thought was a secure position is not a lot of fun, I can assure you.

But I can also attest to the adage that the strong survive- and generally get the last laugh by simply being who they are.

The vague references will end there, and we’ll remind you that there was a time when America Online was one of the shining technological apples of the County’s economic eye.

Remember when they teamed up with Time Warner- even got top billing in the name?

That wasn’t so long ago.

But, like Ol’ Tennessee Williams said, “Time is the greatest distance between two places.”

Or something like that.

So, AOL drops a third of their international workforce.

Let’s hope they make a positive turnaround, too. Their still part of the family.

Welcome Home
You can bet there’s three happy sets of parents in Leesburg, after the return of a trio of runaway girls. You remember the story from last week about their disappearance- well, we got our wish: the story was almost old by the time you read it.

The girls voluntarily approached a local Sheriff’s Deputy in Countryside in the wee hours this past Tuesday.

They hadn’t been seen- officially- since being dropped off at Smart’s Mill Middle School six days earlier; no word on their whereabouts or activities during the interim.

But, they’re back, that’s the important thing.

Rough Crossings

You’d think people would learn to stay out of these places. Seems the most accident-prone intersection from last year tops the list again for the latest 12-month period.

The answer to staying collision-free- seemingly- would be to avoid Route Seven- especially in Eastern Loudoun- and Route 28. but, when you figure the traffic volume on those roads, you’re probably just as safe as you would be on Loudoun Orchard Road- or Paxson, for that matter.

So, the crossing of Waxpool and Loudoun County Parkway had 84 crashes in 2009- the next three in the top ten were on Route Seven: Belmont Ridge Road, Potomac View Road and Ashburn Village Road.

Then a triumvirate on Route 28: Waxpool Road, Sterling Boulevard and Old Ox Road- and, lest we forget Route Seven, three more along that highway: Sterling Boulevard, George Washington Boulevard and Charles Town Pike (the are affectionately known as Clarke’s Gap- the only top ten accident-prone intersection in Western Loudoun for 2010).

Lest we all forget the reason that many of us can sleep in tomorrow morning, here’s a reminder of local observances for Martin Luther King Junior Day. Activities in Loudoun County start with an assembly at 10 o’clock in the morning at the Courthouse Square in Leesburg, followed by a march to the Douglass Community Center- with organized programs for much of the afternoon.

Observances take sponsorship by cooperative efforts by the Douglass Alumni Association, Loudoun NAACP, the Bluemont Concert Series and the Baha’i Community of Loudoun.

Martin Luther King Junior came into the world 81 years ago in Atlanta- the son of a schoolteacher & Baptist Minister.

The Reverend King fought discrimination for over a decade until his assassination in 1968.

The United States began celebrating his birthday just 23 years ago.

We remember the man’s name today as almost synonymous with the words love, equality & non-violence.

Blue Ridge Leader News – January 10, 2010

January 10, 2010 by Tim Jon News, Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment

News for Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good Morning and Happy New Year! Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

Help Return the Runaways

Here’s a story that I really hope’s obsolete by the time you … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – December 13, 2009

December 15, 2009 by Tim Jon News, Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment

Good Morning and Happy Holidays from Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader! Here’s your News Stories for Sunday, December 13th…

Church and State (corner of)

Well, it just got too political, they say- and I don’t blame them. Seems the local Rotary got tired of all the tail-chasing over the past week or 10 days over the courthouse display regulations; they more or less picked up their toy trucks and went home (in other words, no Christmas Tree erected in the historic spot in downtown Leesburg from the local club in something like 50 years).

As overworked as I am this time of year, it makes me kind of sad.

I not only enjoy tradition, I really used to feel good as I’d walk past the annual Tannenbaum, there in front of the old Courthouse.

Sort of a yearly passage, which, by all reports, we’ve now lost.

Ho hum.

Given a bit of time to catch my breath and create, I’d probably compose a critical ballad on the theme of O little Town of Bethlehem- with woes of mixed messages from local government resulting in a change such as this- and probably some wishes for more respect between the rational & the sensitive when it comes to decision-making in the political arena.

Now, not even all the wise men and all the King’s horses can put Humpty together again, it seems, after a series of perhaps misguided but honest attempts at maintaining control over allowing decorating in the public space.

Oh well; we’re puttin’ in a Christmas wish for some common sense in government- local, state and national- howsoever contradictory that may seem.

Probably harder than world peace.

Maybe we’ll get that instead.

So- the Loudoun Supervisors reversed the Courts Advisory Committee, and then the County Board tweaked the regs some more, after getting second thoughts, due to not only the number of requests for displays in the courthouse square, but the potentially controversial character of some of the applications.

My, oh my.

Lemme warn ya, though; if we’re screamin’ about this like it’s the end of the world, then things really can’t be all that bad.

Trust me on that one.


And if ya really want to make someone unhappy, put recreational trail through their neighborhood.


Well, yeah- let me explain.

The old Southwest Connector’s rearing it’s head again- and for some, it’s a face only a mother could love.

Or, maybe that’s the wrong metaphor.

Anyway, lots of folks in southwest Leesburg have a problem with plans for an eventual link between their sort-of landlocked area and some of their surroundings.

And we understand the concerns: fears of increased crime, worries about the cost, basic invasion of privacy, etc.

It’s a seven million dollar baby and would eventually connect Chancellor to Clubhouse and those neighborhoods to the W and OD Trail near Loudoun County High School- by way of a recreational trail for bikers, runners and walkers.

We’ve been watching and listening to this one for over 10 years, and it’s always been a contentious issue: some want the pathway connector for greater access and others oppose it for various reasons.

We don’t expect this to change until a bigger problem makes the opponents forget this one for the time being- then, they’ll go back to their opposition.

With all due respects.

Better than Sledding

And, just in time for freezing temperatures pushing all the kids inside to play out the winter, we proudly announce the opening of a skate park in the Dulles South area. South Riding to be exact- imagine taking a spill on a concrete slab in weather like we enjoyed this past week!

Well, I’m sure the youngsters won’t notice the cold as they celebrate the 56 hundred foot facility at the Multi-purpose Center.

It’s got ramps, rails, stairs, ledges, quarter pipes and something called a pump bump.

I’ll stay as far away as possible, but you can expect this place to be filled with teens on their wheelie-board-things.

The South Riding Homeowners Association and the County Park ‘n Rec Department put the project together.

Hope it’s just as successful as the Catoctin Skate Park in Leesburg- another great partnership.

Just don’t hit any reindeer.

In the Counting House

Well, back to the more serious stuff; you know, after the holidays, the County Government’s gonna face some tough music on the financial end of things. The Loudoun Supervisors figure to get down to the nitty gritty on the budget- and our guess is: no one will be completely happy about the decisions.

One scenario- which would help pay for service levels roughly equal to what they are now- would hit us all in the pocketbook (per household, that is) to the tune of a little under eight hundred smackeroos- on average.

I’m glad my bill wouldn’t be affected that much- and I don’t think the Board will adopt that version of the final budget.

But I’d also be concerned if some of those really cool programs at the local libraries would disappear- or if Loudoun Public Schools would start in on a long, slow downslide (which I really don’t think is gonna happen).

Well, make sure you check out our interview scheduled for today with Leesburg Supervisor Kelly Burk; she told us the budget deliberations sort of loom before her like the Ghost of Marley and those three other apparitions for ol’ Ebeneezer.

Not that Kelly’s a miser or a bad boss; it’s just that this financial stuff has her concerned like the rest of us.

Should be an interesting chat.

We’ll talk about some other stuff, too (Kelly teaches Special Education for the public school system and she used to serve on the Leesburg Town Council).

Present Arms

A little closer to the “’Tis the Season” motif, you’ve still got a few days left drop off donations headed for overseas troops. One of our local sports organizations- Greater Loudoun Babe Ruth- coordinated a holiday collection drive- in cooperation with the Freedom Alliance of Dulles- to bring some much-needed cheer to soldiers in uniform- in the form of some simple entertainment items and really what amounts to basic necessities.

Several drop-off points across the County accept donations until Thursday- and here’s what they’re looking for: travel-size toiletry items, snacks- sealed, individual units and some of the smaller, personalized recreational ‘n’ entertainment things (batteries, stationary, crosswords, little games, DVD’s- that sort of deal).

So- here’s where you can do your Santa routine with the stuff: two spots in Purcellville- the Loudoun Valley Community Center and the Purcellville Library, Gold’s Gym in Ashburn and a place called Grease Monkey in Sterling.

I can’t think of a better destination for a gift- or a bunch of ‘em- than to some of our soldiers in uniform in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

Kudos to these groups for organizing this.

Save Our History!

And on behalf of a much-closer-to-home need- don’t say there’s ‘no room at the inn’ for some of the priceless artifacts of this County’s timeline. One of our favorite local resources- the Loudoun Museum- put out an urgent plea this past week for the use of some emergency space to house their collection.

No kidding- it’s really that serious; they found out that their current space- known at Odd Fellows Hall and the adjacent building at Loudoun and Wirt in Leesburg- just won’t make the code requirements- even after the current renovations finish up.

So- ”Anybody’s Dad got a vacant office?” as they used to ask in the old Garland and Rooney Musicals.

That’s the basic situation: the Museum needs roughly a 12 to 14 hundred square foot plot- in which to plunk down some 76 hundred historic items for safe-keeping.

That’s about 50 feet by 25- a pretty good sized chuck of interior real estate.

Needs to be climate-controlled, too.

Don’t know how long they’ll need it, but you can figure it’ll be pretty much a permanent deal.

At least that’s what they’re hoping- if it works out that way.

There Oughtta be more LAWS

And that reminds us- we wanted to give some more attention to another really worthwhile institution in our locality- and they need a new home, as well. We told you last week about the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter’s search for bigger accommodations.

Still no word on their scoring such a find.

Their current facility could probably serve a population of about one-quarter of Loudoun’s current number of residents.

The LAWS Board of Directors would appreciate even just a couple of acres of land- on which they could build a new facility from to-be-donated funds.

We’ll keep putting this one out there until they find a solution.

Reading Power!

In the “Good on Ya” column, we’re happy to announce that an anonymous donor pledged a $10,000 donation to a local teaching resource- if those funds can be matched by others. The Loudoun Literacy Council issued word on the offer; they’ve had similar support in the past- and this would certainly make their budget numbers line up a lot more easily- looking at the next Fiscal Year.

This group does phenomenal work in our locality and we put our official stamp of approval on their operations.

Incendiary Growth

Well, the Town of Purcellville concluded another chapter in their ongoing range war over land, water, population, roads, and just about anything else this poor little community can find to fight about. The local Council approved annexation this past week for one of their next-door neighbors- Patrick Henry College- and this action just about had a call for martial law before they were done.

Citizen outcry nearly drowned out Council comments at times at Town Hall, and Police stood by to intervene- until local officials restored order.

Protests came for the perceived motivations behind the action: accusations ranged the gamut from Council Members’ scheming for over-development, over-commercialism and over-use of the local water supply.

The Town’s previously acted to include other acreage on the eastern end of the community- and this may lead to eventual completion on what some call the Southern Collector Road.

Others have alternate names for the project.

Can’t print those here.

Funny thing is- the land for Patrick Henry College stayed in the same spot, despite the recent vote to annex.

It didn’t move an inch.

Should have known that was coming.

Hard Hat Zone

Speaking of “out of the frying pan, into the fire,” we should send out a welcome to the County’s new Administrator- Tim Helmstreet. He can celebrate the holidays, then try to come up with a means of plugging a $150,000,000 hole in the local budget.

Hope he’s got his seat belt fastened.

“Welcome to Oz.”

Tussle over the Dais in Leesburg

And, expect the political fire to flare up at least a bit more after the holidays- as it looks like we got ourselves a contest for Mayor in the County Seat. Leesburg Councilman Tom Dunn announced a campaign for the Seat; he faces multi-term Incumbent Kristen Umstattd.

Sounds like it could be a face-off over development: Tom in favor and Kristen opposed.

I’m sure it’ll get much more complicated than that, but it could be exciting; so many times in local elections the candidates can wind up pretty much sounding the same.

Dunn and Umstattd are both very well-spoken and willing to give advice ‘n opinion; they’re also both pretty good listeners- often a rare trait in politics.

Councilman Dunn runs a mortgage banking business and has lent support for more commercial activity.

He says he can attract more businesses to Leesburg.

Mayor Umstattd touts a record of penny-pinching at tax time, opposition to high-density development and a strong voice to protect the interests of in-town water ‘n sewer customers (much to the chagrin of those outside the boundary line).

Tom Dunn currently serves his first Council term.

Kristen Umstattd’s in her fourth term as Mayor; she served on Council for about 10 years prior to taking the helm.

Town elections come up in May.

The candidate with the most votes wins (local contests have been particularly feable in getting residents to the ballot box).

Medical Upgrade

Focus on local healthcare sees a perk in national attention: Inova Loudoun received accreditation from the American College of Surgeons’ Program for Breast Centers. This puts the local institution in an upper class which includes only about 70 other such accredited facilities in the country.

The Breast Care Institute at Inova Loudoun received a three-year stamp of approval from the national accreditors.

The review covers over two dozen standards of breast cancer treatment and other procedures.

The South Rises Again

Well, sounds like Loudoun gets a new playground for Christmas. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority took in about a hundred 50 acres on the southern end of the County.

The land lies just east of Route 15 and north of Route 50- across the road from the historic Mount Zion Church.

The acreage represents a combination of land actually purchased by the Authority from the Church and another adjacent portion leased from the Piedmont Environmental Council; the PEC had bought that chunk earlier this year.

The NVRPA touts the site’s significance to the Civil War- linked to the Battle of Aldie dated June 17 1863.

Union Scout Alexander Davis formerly owned a farm at the location as well; he joined up after sustaining a Confederate attack (seems they didn’t take kindly to northerners at that time in Southern Loudoun County).

Management for the nearby Aldie Mill Historic Park- just down Route 50 to the west from this site- and also under the auspices of the NVRPA- plans to look after the new acreage for the Authority- as well as the Mount Zion Historic Church.

I guess you could say it’s an area with quite a past.

Let’s hope for a great future as well.

Expect further word on public access to these sites as the weather becomes a little more hospitable.

May those who fought here rest in peace…

Zuzu’s Petals, and other holiday movie trivia

Need a boost to ‘get into’ the Holidays this year? The Tally Ho Theatre in Downtown Leesburg starts a seasonal selection of movies on Friday- at a buck a pop.

If you’ve never seen “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you owe it to yourself.

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Even you, Clarence.

The schedule runs through Christmas Eve, appropriately enough.

Jingle Bells.

Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

Blue Ridge Leader News – December 6, 2009

News for Sunday morning, December Sixth

Happy Holidays! Tim Jon here for the Blue Ridge Leader News. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started. Pretend you’re at a Christmas News Buffet; some great tidbits, some maybe … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – November 29, 2009

Budget- with giblets and gravy- a matter of thankfulness

Y’know, speakin’ of being grateful, folks in the County Seat can thank their lucky stars on one thing: as the county gets ready to go through its annual knock-down, drag-out budget rodeo during the appropriately hellish winter months, the powers-that-be in Leesburg … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – November 22, 2009

Fatal Turn

A Middleburg man may face charges after a fatal car crash this week on Route 50. The impact killed a Centreville man- 69 year old Syan Trilochan-Singh.

Authoroties say Albers turned out of a private driveway and into the oncoming lane of the roadway; he and some juvenile passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries from the crash.

Medical Personnel transported Trilochan-Singh to Inova Loudoun Medical Center in Leesburg, where he later … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009 by Tim Jon News, Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment

Too Close for Comfort

Morning- Tim Jon here for the Blue Ridge Leader online news. You know, just last week we took a moment to remember a local soldier who lost his life in overseas combat; the ink was barely dry on that story when the bulletin came in about the horrific mass shooting at Fort Hood- a tragedy multiplied by the proximity to Veteran’s Day on our calendars. A senseless act at any time, it seemed much more painful- even to those of us on the periphery- so close to the day when we all mark the sacrifice of those in uniform. I did find a bit of balm for the emotional wound in some of the comments from the ‘alleged’ shooter’s family and from fellow Muslims (who, thankfully, hardly call this man a fellow). Others extolling this individual’s actions leave one in befuddlement, disappointment and perhaps, even in despair. As Bob Dylan once wrote, “Now is the time for your tears.”

Why Vote?

Well, moving along to items of somewhat less magnitude- at least in immediate terms- we have to say we told you so. Anyone really surprised by the fairly low turnout by local voters on Election Day? … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – November 8, 2009

November 10, 2009 by Tim Jon Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment

(Black &) Blue, Seeing Red

Good Morning! Tim Jon here for the Blue Ridge Leader Online News. Well, Loudoun’s gone Red again- in a big way- and that means salvation for one and all, according to some of the more rabid supporters of the Grand Old Party in these parts. Yeah, the Republicans took it to the Democrats in this week’s election- adding two more GOP Delegates from our locality- as well as supporting the Big Three Races in Virginia- Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

The winners say, “People wanted change.”

Boy, I hope so.

If these new leaders can fix all the transportation problems, stop crime, lower taxes, fix the economy, help care for the indigent and helpless portions of the population, keep us healthy and protect the environment all at the same time, then we’ll have something.

A bit unrealistic?

Yeah, I thought so.

I guess all we can hope for is that these folks will do their best to work together to solve as many problems as they can- in so far as they define said problems and agreed-upon solutions.

But, back to the root of the matter, at least for me: who wouldn’t want things to be different?

The economy’s still in the tank, we have some of the worst traffic  in the universe, many of us are working two or three jobs just to survive (often without health coverage, I might add), the nation’s involved in two very tragic and complicated wars, the national administration seems to be mired in an eternal healthcare debate and we’re told to buck up and stay strong and remain patient.

Patient, heck.

I was patient five years ago.

That got us here.

There’s no time for patience, in my opinion; so, anyone who can pick up a shovel and do some honest, cooperative work to make Loudoun County, Virginia a better place to live will get my vote(s) come next election- be it local, state or national.

Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Martian.

Is anybody listening?


Might makes…More Might

Well, I guess you could say it’s a case of power begets more power- as we hear that the Supreme Court upheld a decision for another big, electrical transmission line in Loudoun County. The eminent jurists sided with the State Corporation Commission’s approval of the latest of a series of those frightening-to-some, five hundred kilovolt wire extensions through the southern portion of our locality.

This comes after more than three years of public debate and opposition from a slurry of area antagonists.

Environmentalists, homeowners, parents, local governments, land holders and others formed a sometimes loose alliance of strange bedfellows in fighting this latest proposal from the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company.

The line affects Fauquier, Prince William and Culpeper Counties as well as Loudoun.

The Power companies- every pun intended- say they need more electricity to meet demand; opponents disagree- and ne’er the twain have ever met, or shall in the future, judging from our experience.

The power folks are still battling strong opposition in Maryland and West Virginia- as this project represents a regional extension- quite a massive undertaking.

And don’t expect that this is the last; there’s more to come…there’s money in them there wires.

Read Into It

Hey, here’s a bit of good news: The Gum Spring Library had a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday- with the usual assortment of local officials on hand to see it through.

Er, wait a minute: wasn’t the Gum Spring Library supposed to be done already and open last year?

Well, yeah. At least that was the plan; y’see, this was one of those public/private partnership deals- between the County Government (us) and Van Metre Homes.

Well, the homebuilders ran into the same economic challenges that the rest of the known world encountered in recent times, so the Library project got put on hold until they could sell enough units to afford to construct the critter.

At least, that’s the story I’m told.

Well, here we are in November of 2009, breaking ground, at least, on a building that the County thought would have been up and in use for a year.

Like I said, it’s a bit of good news.

Keep on truckin.’

Pay as you Go

Got yer seat belt on? Well, if you’re at home, pour yourself an adult beverage and listen in: remember when we talked about the rate structure for the Dulles Toll Road, this past summer- and we warned you not to be too surprised if they caught you in the seat of the pants?

Well, here we are: y’sure ya want to hear this, now?

OK- plan on another quarter to drive the road- starting the First of the Year.

But that’s not the end of it- not by a long shot: ya gotta dig for another two bits a year later- and another the year after that- if we should be so fortunate as to still be driving the toll road and enjoying this bountiful existence in Northern Virginia.

But, hey- you know what?

The Airports Authority- the guys who hold the keys to the city as far as the Toll Road’s concerned- say they need the extra change so they can complete some big-time projects- many of them at Dulles Airport- like the soon-to-be-up-and-running underground train system to get us around the terminal and concourse areas.

You know what?

I believe ‘em.

They’ve got a good track record for running the airports- and for getting stuff done.

Look at it this way- how many local projects is that Australian outfit- the ones who own the Greenway- what kind of projects are they working on with their profits?


I’ll take the Airports Authority- and their toll increases- and their capital projects- like Dulles Rail- an actual alternative to the Toll Road, once it’s finished.

OK, maybe those state politicians we elected on Tuesday can figure out how we can drive those roads for free- and build and maintain all those transportation projects.

Ya got any other good ones?

Three men walk into a bar…

Bridges to the Future

OK- some unadulterated, unfiltered, honest-to-goodness good news: we’re getting some money to fix a coupla bridges in Loudoun County. Here’s a test: you drive the local roads- which two bridges do you think they’d pick?

Well, I know a few on Snickersville Turnpike that could use some help- and one on the western portion of Paxson Road that’s a real experience.

But they stumped me- the money’s going for one on Airmont Road- just south of the Airmont Store off Snickerslle- over Butcher’s Creek, and for another in Eastern Loudoun- along Pleasant Valley Road- near the County Line- at Sand Branch- just east of the Dulles Industrial Park South.

Can’t say I can place that one, but I’m sure it’s in need of repair .

Oh- no word yet on whether these are total replacements or just prop-ups.

You want to see a really bad bridge?

Head west on Lime Kiln Road- off Route 15, just south of Oatlands.

Right after the sharp right and left curves, you’ll see a string of mailboxes on the left side of the road.

The folks who live on the other side of Goose Creek have a real nightmare of a bridge- remember Galloping Gertie on the west coast?

Well, this one’s in permanent sway.

It’s worth the drive and the shudder.

It’s private- thank God it’s off-limits for most men, women and children.

Ain’t Loudoun County a special place?

Preventative Medicine

Oh, the latest on Swine Flu Shots: they held a special clinic this weekend for people in what they deem high risk groups: basically for pregnant women, kids between the ages of two and nine- and/or kids from four to 18 with medical conditions.

The County Health Department set up shop at Smart’s Mill Middle School- on the north side of Leesburg- yesterday morning- with a supply of about two thousand doses.

These were free for local residents; the County plans to have more of these clinics- and not just for high-risk groups- as soon as they get some more vaccine.

Where’s Louie Pasteur when ya need him?

For today’s Rembrandt’s, Ray’s and Rockwell’s

Here’s one for the artiste in all of us- howsoever hidden it may be: Loudoun County got its own Art Institute- a place of higher learning for the creatively inclined.

It’s officially called the Art Institute of Washington-Northern Virginia; I guess that means of Washington in Northern Virginia- not Washington  and Northern Virginia.

We’re definitely a spin-off- not a real partner.

But that’s OK- we got us a real, sure-enough art institute- just like those big cities.

The facility’s not the usual Greek columned, marble-halled affair- it’s in that place they call the Neon Building off Route 28- in the Corporate Office Park at Dulles Town Center in Sterling.

They’ve got about 19 thousand square feet on the first floor.

Students can pursue Bachelor’s or Associate Degrees- in what we used to call ‘commercial art’ as opposed to the more basic drawing and painting (generally taken up by future janitors).

Programs include Advertising, Fashion & Retail Management,Graphic and Interior Design, Media Arts and Animation, Photographic Imaging, and Web Design and Interactive Media; Associate Degree programs focus on Graphic Design or Web Design and Interactive Media.

You know what, though?

I hope some of those students have a  shabby little studio somewhere that’s filled with those messy, smelly oil paints and dusty charcoal and pastel chalk materials.

I bet some of ‘em do.

So Long, It’s Been

Well, that’s all for today, boys and girls. Till next time- keep your eyes peeled for those unique people and places in Loudoun County- ’cause you know- we’ll eventually be talkin’ about ‘em.

It’s often the ditches that make the road worthwhile.

I’m Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader Online News.

Thanks for bein’ part of it.

Blue Ridge Leader News – November 1, 2009


Before I even introduce myself for this segment, just want to send condolences to the family & many friends of a young man from Purcellville who lost his life in Afghanistan some weeks ago; 21 year old Stephen Lee Mace was one of seven US soldiers killed in an overwhelming attack on their camp by members of the Taliban.

You know, I’m not gonna tell you that I’ve got all the answers about the War being good or bad- smart or dumb- I’m not quite that omniscient and I don’t believe the people that claim to have it down one way or the other. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014


The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014


By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012


By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …


Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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April 2014
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate


April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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Easter at "The Park"


April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club


April 30, 2014

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

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May 4, 2014

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

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View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014


In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …



Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014


In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …



Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014


Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014


At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election


Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

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Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger


By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting


U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014


Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014


Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …


Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …



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