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Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

October 5, 2016 View From the Ridge 1 comment

By Andrea Gaines
On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born Lafayette, inspired by stories of American independence, had sailed here to fight side-by-side with Americans at the young age of 20. Half a century later, he was back to visit old friends and a growing United States, watching former colonists work with their representatives to build a new country. … Continue Reading

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

May 5, 2015 Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

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 changes are similar to the changes that occurred in 2008 which gave us a six story project on 21st Street. By that we mean the town council at the time, based on developer input changed the height restrictions on 21st Street from 32 feet to 65 feet. … Continue Reading

Correct Course and Review the Comprehensive Plan


Like a ship lost at sea, many residents of Purcellville see the development patterns in and around town as having drifted dangerously off course.

The Autumn Hill/Mayfair development – which resulted in the annexation of previously open land, is one example of this drift. The Vineyard Square development project, which, if built, will in one fell swoop fundamentally and permanently degrade the historic nature of Purcellville’s downtown.

Town-based communities in Loudoun County are required to develop the planning and zoning document known as a Comprehensive Plan – a blueprint that directs both where and how development will occur, and provides protection for the historic and environmental resources communities have identified as essential to how they see themselves today and want to define themselves in the future. … Continue Reading

Debt, Debt and, More Debt … Or, Is There an Alternative?

December 10, 2014 Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on Debt, Debt and, More Debt … Or, Is There an Alternative?

The entire trajectory of the Town of Purcellville can be summarized in one word. Debt.

The massive debt the town incurred to build the wastewater treatment plant – which currently operates at just 40 percent capacity – stands at $33 million. There was a $6 million mandated upgrade to the facility – which was paid for with a taxpayer funded grant. But, the balance of the $33 million spent was a choice by the town to dramatically increase the capacity of the facility- on the hope that the rapid growth in and around Purcellville would continue. Tap fees – the cost to be hooked up the system – now run about fifty thousand dollars apiece. And, that would keep the debt manageable.

But with the additional extravagant and ill-advised spending by the town (including the $8.5 million for the new town hall) and the housing crash recession, town debt has now ballooned to $61 million in less than a decade …

There is no looking back, but there is a way to look forward. … Continue Reading

I Wanna Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Undo It


There’s a popular country western song that tells the story of a young woman who gets swept up in a night of partying and wakes up to find she has a ring on her finger, a new last name and a new husband. Knowing she had been duped but determined to take her future back, she proclaims “Boy you blew it, you put me through it I wanna uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it.”

Many people in Purcellville feel the same way about the 100,000 square foot Vineyard Square mixed-use development project … a project which, once the zoning party got started moved from one excess to another, wedding the citizens and taxpayers of Purcellville to a decidedly unattractive future for their historic downtown. … Continue Reading

There’s a New Gang in Town – And Isn’t It Time?


For many, the recent town-wide elections in Purcellville present all of western Loudoun with a significant opportunity to launch a more citizen-focused future.

On July 1 there will be a new mayor and a decidedly different balance of power on the Purcellville Town Council, as four new members with fresh policy views join the group.

Growth is here and will continue. But, the question of exactly where that growth will occur, whom it will benefit and who will pay for it now has the opportunity to be answered – out in the open. … Continue Reading

Will the Voter’s Changing Mood Express Itself on May 6?

April 30, 2014 Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on Will the Voter’s Changing Mood Express Itself on May 6?

Interesting …
Businesses and homeowners in Purcellville took up the cause of parents to the east, west, north and south fighting to save their small schools.

If you drove through the village of Hamilton to the east and the village of Lincoln to the south you saw signs of every kind demanding to “Save Lincoln Elementary,” “Vote For Kids,” “Save Hamilton Elementary,” and “Small Schools = No New Debt.” And, then those same signs started popped up in Purcellville proper. And, then there was a very-well attended school board meeting on Monday, April 21, followed by a 6-3 vote on Tuesday, April 22 which settled, for now, whether these small community-based schools would close. And, the answer was, NO. … Continue Reading

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


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 center. A community pool complex. Beautiful natural areas. Walking paths. A frisbee golf course. Tennis courts. Campfire and grill pavilions. Baseball and soccer fields. It, in short, is a really wonderful place, purchased, crafted and planned by a board of supervisors with active community involvement. A community that knew what it wanted and worked, through its government, to get it done. … Continue Reading

Purcellville’s Broken Heart


It is both interesting and so disheartening to read Wikipedia’s description of the place known as Purcellville.

It describes how in 1764 the town’s first known settler, James Dillon made his way here from Buck’s County, Pa. How an “early ox cart track” stretching west from Leesburg toward the Blue Ridge Mountains served as “the nucleus” of the town. How the first recorded business – “a combined store and inn” – arrived in 1799, followed by Purcel’s Store and Post Office, the town’s first stagecoach delivery (1841), a blacksmith’s shop (1848), and the first public school (1883). And, how on March 14, 1908, the town was incorporated by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. … Continue Reading

A Citizen-Directed Future for Western Loudoun?– What It Will Take

January 8, 2014 Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on A Citizen-Directed Future for Western Loudoun?– What It Will Take

The Blue Ridge Leader’s View From The Ridge feature was introduced in 1984.?This feature is intended to present to the public our big picture assessment of what is going on in our western Loudoun community – an independent and spirited assessment, free of the special interests that seek to control the day. As we begin 2014, we recommit ourselves to being that independent voice for you.

Why Is An Independent Voice So Important To Western Loudoun?

All communities, even small ones, have centers of power. As the people run their businesses and live their lives, it’s up to government, even if it is a small town council or county board of supervisors, to make sure everyone’s getting a fair shake. And, it’s up to the news media to make sure government is doing its job and conducting its business out in the open, while providing citizens a microphone with which to express their views.

This is critical in a fast growing community such as western Loudoun where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake in land deals, residential and commercial development and political favors. And, it is absolutely urgent in a political atmosphere where town councils and boards of supervisors seem more interested in greasing the skids for developers than in serving the public. … Continue Reading

The Last Hardware Store?


In their 2011 documentary The Last Hardware Store, noted portrait photographer and executive producer Sarah Huntington, director and veteran videographer Peter Buck and well-known advertising agency owner and writer/editor Drew Babb tell the nearly 100-year-old story of Nichols Hardware.

Representing, in many ways, the commercial lynchpin of Purcellville’s Historic District, Nichols Hardware is remarkable not only for the fact that it will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary next year, but also for the fact that you and I, old timers and newcomers alike can walk into Nichols today and experience the same thing a customer in the early part of the 20th Century would have experienced. Personal service. Quality products. Problem solving for that pesky household job.

Just as Nichols advertised back in the day, “We have the largest and most compete stock of hardware and furniture in the county … “ so goes the Nichols story today – not withstanding the product selection, size and reach of big box stores such as Home Depot. … Continue Reading

It’s Not “Time For Compromise”


The photo op tents are in place and the state and local government officials, local business leaders and more are lined up – current and former mayors of Purcellville, Virginia Transportation officials, members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, local developers.

The press is here, and a broad white ribbon has been pulled across part of the Southern Collector Road. Bob Lazaro, the Mayor of Purcellville has conducted his ceremonial ribbon cutting signaling that the road is open, and a muted moment of hand-clapping has blown off into the warm June breeze.

Yes, the Southern Collector Road is open and ready for our cars and trucks and commercial vehicles. And, it’s a big, beautiful wide and majestic road. … Continue Reading

What Is Our Vision For The Future?


On a beautiful spring day like today – or on any of the beautiful days we’ve experienced here in western Loudoun County lately – it’s hard to imagine that one morning you might wake up and wish things were different.

The sun is out and the weekend is here. You’ve got lots of errands to run but that’s OK. You’ll hit more traffic than you are used to if you head into Purcellville or Leesburg, or Tyson’s Corner, but you’ll put up with it. Once back home, maybe you’ll do a little gardening, take your kids to practice and then take a walk around the neighborhood, or maybe you’ll head out to a winery or a local farm to enjoy what the still rural aspects of our area have to offer.

Yes, it’s pretty nice living here in western Loudoun County. And, although everyone knows big changes are afoot, you don’t get the sense those changes will one day shock you.

But flash forward a year or two, or three, to Saturday, April 27, 2014 … or 2015 … or 2016 and imagine this scenario.

Your favorite old farm, the one trying to continue operations despite the road that was going through it, finally gave up and closed. Your favorite old time hardware is closed down, too – seemingly benign changes to the old downtown made it too difficult for their suppliers to get in and out of their loading dock. The woods that your yard backs up to got replaced. And, not just by another subdivision, but a huge apartment complex. The “back way,” that gravel road you’d take to avoid the more congested commuting routes has been made wider and is now paved; no longer a road that blends into its rural surroundings, it’s now just something that gets you from Point A to Point B. Looking out toward the west one night, instead of rolling hills and rooftops and the occasional horse farm, you see a big parking lot full of cars.

As we all enjoy our beautiful western Loudoun community today, new development projects in the works, new roads, and changes to how zoning decisions are made and government interacts with its citizenry are acting against the vision that is our rural and small town, quiet village way of life.
This includes the proposed 176-unit Catoctin Creek Apartments complex in Purcellville; changes to the town’s comprehensive and zoning plans; elimination of the special exception process, resulting in less public input on big box stores and other zoning changes; the Catoctin Corner commercial development that will add more drive-thrus and commercial strips near the entrance to Purcellville; the new hotel (or retail/condos) and parking complex planned for downtown Purcellville, and the plan to widen and level out this historic area’s sidewalks … all in the name of a new “Tourist District.”

And, then, for people in Purcellville and the communities within the town’s sphere of influence – including the towns of Hamilton and Round Hill and the villages of Lincoln, Philomont and Paeonion Springs, Waterford and others – will we see the open space buffers that now separate them from Purcellville shrink to the point where you don’t have a sense of being in a distinct community at all, and western Loudoun looks more like a Leesburg or an Ashburn? (Nice places to live, but not necessarily what you had in mind when you came here or chose to stay as a long term resident of the area.)

As newer residents and as long time residents, as we enjoy what we came here for and stayed here for, it’s important to remind ourselves that there are good forces of change and bad forces of change.

High-density development without regard to the quality of life of those around that development is not inevitable, unless we decide it should be.
Excessive new commercial development that enriches big national chains at the expense of smaller downtown businesses is the way most communities are going these days, but it doesn’t have to be the way western Loudoun goes.

Our agricultural heritage – and the local economic engine it represents – can be ours to cultivate and keep, if that’s what we want. (A Purcellville planning commissioner recently said that he couldn’t see a farm in town … is that how you feel?)

We elect our public officials to reflect what we want … and we should hold them to task.

We should be able to wake up on April 27, 2016, and know that, while we saw lots of change in western Loudoun, it matched our vision for where we wanted to live and what we came and stayed here for.









2016 Energy Summit – George Washington University


On Friday evening, October 28, George Washington University, Virginia Campus in Ashburn will host the 10th annual Don Sandros Energy Summit in cooperation with local businesses and non-profits. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for a reception with wine donated by …

Attributing Disaster


“Humans are likely to create a catastrophe, and possibly an associated disaster, that vastly exceeds our own ability to recover from it. In the face of all our efforts, it will persist.” – Richard Guthrie [1] “Here we show that …

Concerned Parent


By Michael Oberschenider Psy.D. Dr. Mike, We recently signed our four-year-old daughter up for gymnastics. It wasn’t cheap, but her friends from the neighborhood do it, and she has been begging us to go. It turned out to be a …

Invisible Illnesses

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde It is general knowledge that when people think about illnesses, they don’t think about illnesses that aren’t physically apparent. Sure, people know about conditions such as multiple sclerosis and other diseases with visible symptoms, but many …

Robinson Park

robinson park

Looking back, now – I’m glad it wasn’t what most people would’ve considered a nice day; I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my share of hot and sunny to last me for at least a generation (especially since …

Are Your Estate and Financial Plans Shock-Proof?


Don’t wait until “what if?” becomes “what is.” Where will you live as you age? Think about your housing options now, so you have choices and won’t have to make a hasty decision should an unexpected health event force you …

In Defense of ‘Adulting’


By Samuel Moore-Sobel Most friends transitioning from college to the workforce long for the days of college, wishing to be back in class and participating in campus life. To be honest, I may be in the minority, but I have …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016


Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016


Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016


Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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October 2016
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
September 26, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 27, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 28, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 29, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 30, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

October 1, 2016

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

October 2, 2016
October 3, 2016 October 4, 2016 October 5, 2016 October 6, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 8, 2016

Virginia Outdoors Foundation 50 years of Conservation Celebration

October 9, 2016
October 10, 2016 October 11, 2016 October 12, 2016

Barefoot Puppets: Dreamtime, Tales From Down Under

October 13, 2016 October 14, 2016 October 15, 2016

Loudoun Centre Theatre: The Scamps Of Scapin!

October 16, 2016

Harvest Celebration & Fall Farm Tour


October 17, 2016 October 18, 2016 October 19, 2016 October 20, 2016 October 21, 2016

Anthony Semiao Live at North Gate Vineyard


October 22, 2016 October 23, 2016

Come Paint with us at Breaux Vineyards

October 24, 2016 October 25, 2016 October 26, 2016 October 27, 2016 October 28, 2016

October Fourth Friday

October 29, 2016

2 Pound Sterling Live at North Gate VIneyard

October 30, 2016

Music With A Cause - Music of Colonial America

October 31, 2016 November 1, 2016 November 2, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 4, 2016 November 5, 2016

OysterFest at North Gate Vineyard

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

November 6, 2016
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Steady and NoBull


Veteran’s Day 10k Raises Funds for Veteran Causes

13 Oct 2016


On November 6, the Loudoun County Road Runners Club will again conduct the annual Loudoun 10K Trail Race in order to raise funds for veteran causes. Since it’s origin in 2011, the trail race has generated more than $90,000 with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to veteran’s charities, specifically Boulder Crest Retreat and Pets for Vets.

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FBRM Clean-Up Day at Blue Ridge Regional Park

6 Oct 2016


Join Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains for an Autumn clean-up to remove invasive vegetation from Blue Ridge Regional Park on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Some tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring your clippers, pruning shears, or saws if you can. Directions: From Leesburg, drive west on Route 7 past the turnoff …

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Painted Barrel Auction Saturday, October 8

6 Oct 2016


The Auction for The Painted Barrels around Purcellville will be held on Saturday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m at the Bush Tabernacle – 250 S. Nursery Ave. Purcellville. Thirty-Five local Loudoun County artists were given an oak wine barrel to create a Purcellville / Loudoun theme on it. Each barrel was sponsored by a local business and was displayed throughout …

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Grief and Greed


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 …


Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!


– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West


– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

New Proposed Uses for Western Loudoun

Loudoun County Seal Color

If you live in the middle or western part of Loudoun where you enjoy a parcel of open space near your property (which probably was put into an open space …

Bennett Knows How To Make Economy Work for All


In the election for the 10th District House seat, only one candidate has a more than three decades of success growing a local business. As the owner of a successful …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm


By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

History’s Holy Places: Four Local Sites Worth Exploring This Fall


The Journey through Hallowed Ground is a 180-mile long, 75-mile wide trek from Gettysburg to Monticello, encompassing nine presidential homes and places, 18 national and state parks, and thousands of small and large historical sites. Dozens and dozens of these sites and related museums are short ride from just about …

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Land Trust Receives Large Donation

land trust

On August 22, The Land Trust of Virginia received a $10,000 gift from the Sharon D. Virts Foundation, based in Herndon. The presentation of this grant was part of the Foundation’s official launch event, held at Selma Plantation in Leesburg. Notable speakers included Sharon D. Virts, FCiFederal Founder and Chair, …

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Farmers Urged To Be On The Lookout For Marijuana


Farmers in Southwest Virginia are being urged to check their property for marijuana planted by trespassers. Within the past year, hundreds of marijuana plants have been discovered between rows of hay bales on farms in and around Pulaski County, according to the Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force. “Unfortunately this …

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Hunter’s First Professional Race

7 Sep 2016


Drew Hunter and Loudoun Valley classmates at his first professional race, Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, NC in early August , l to r:  Marcos Pierce, Matt Slook, Drew Hunter, Max McNerney. Hunter finished with a time of 3:57.15. Hunter turned professional and signed with Adidas.

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Let’s Make Some Memories

3 Aug 2016


American Legion Baseball At Fireman’s Field, August 3 – 7 By Andrea Gaines American Legion Baseball is here at Fireman’s Field in a big way, featuring five consecutive blockbuster Mid-Atlantic Tournament games – August 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Our local Leesburg Post 34 Rangers had some nice wins …

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