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An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

May 5, 2015 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville
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Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them

By Steady and Nobull

The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major 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

January 6, 2015 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 1 comment
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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 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on Debt, Debt and, More Debt … Or, Is There an Alternative?
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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

August 6, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 1 comment
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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?

June 3, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 4 comments
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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 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on Will the Voter’s Changing Mood Express Itself on May 6?
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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

March 4, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 3 comments
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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

February 5, 2014 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 9 comments
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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 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge Comments Off on A Citizen-Directed Future for Western Loudoun?– What It Will Take
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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?

November 6, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 3 comments
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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”

July 2, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 28 comments
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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?

May 3, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 1 comment
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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.

Spirit and Place Worth Protecting

April 3, 2013 by Andrea Gaines Columns, View From the Ridge 1 comment
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Long time residents of our area – and even folks who moved here recently – describe the place known as western Loudoun with great fondness. There can be lots to be discouraged about – the loss of one’s favorite dirt road, the coming down of an old barn, fast food restaurants where that old mom and pop luncheonette used to be …

But, while there are things to be discouraged about – things that we hope against hope (maybe unrealistically) will never change – every once in a while something happens that reminds you how very special western Loudoun really is. Something that motivates you not just to consider the positives, but to act in a way that cultivates and sustains them. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015

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“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015

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Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

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– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

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Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015

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By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015

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– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015

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– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

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Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

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Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

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Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

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Events

July 2015
M T W T F S S
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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

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Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

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Garden Party

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

Willie White returns to North Gate Vineyard

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Garden Party

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Barns of Rose Hill Presents Lúnasa

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Friday Night Jazz with Maddy Curtis and Caleb Nei

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Two Pound Sterling Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Kipyn Martin Live at North Gate VIneyard

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Event: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists – wood turner Harriet Maloney and photographer J Riley Stewart

The Gifts Within

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Spinners

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

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 sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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Editorial

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

1 Jul 2015

kwasifraser

– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

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Lifestyle

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

2 Jul 2015

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– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

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Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015

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Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

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Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015

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Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

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Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015

wildloudoun

– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

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Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

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On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

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McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

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Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

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Sports

Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015

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– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

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WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

thismonthhistory

– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

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Mary Rose Lunde

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

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– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

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Letters

Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015

speak

With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

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Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

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Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015

Dave_larock

By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …

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