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What You Don’t Know About Propane – But Should

December 10, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Lifestyle, Your Money Comments Off on What You Don’t Know About Propane – But Should
daveschultz

Answers And Insights That Could Save You Thousands
An Interview With Dale Schultz

Where Does Propane Come From?
Dale Schultz: Propane is a by-product of drilling for Natural Gas (Methane). All propane in our area comes from North America. The U.S. is a net exporter of propane, primarily to Central and South America. The propane is separated from the methane, butane, and ethane at the refinery. Propane is transported to our area via rail and pipelines.

Is Propane less costly than home heating oil and diesel fuel?
DS: Adjusted for BTUs, propane is about $1.00/gallonless than either home heating oil or diesel. This why school districts around the country are converting their school bus fleets to operate on propane. It is not only saving them money, but equally important propane burns cleaner than diesel. … Continue Reading

Looking Long Term … Towards Solar Power

October 1, 2014 by Blue Ridge Leader Your Money Comments Off on Looking Long Term … Towards Solar Power

Is solar power coming? Nationwide statistics indicate that the national answer question is “yes.” A first-ever Solar Home & Winery Tour in Loudoun County – held in September – is a sign that more and more people in the county are looking into solar power.

With respect to Virginia, the Solar Energies Industry Association reports that the state ranks only 27th nationally in the growth of solar power. However, a quick look at a map of the state shows a large cluster of solar-related companies – including manufacturers, contractor/installers, project developers and engineering professionals – in the northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland region. So, the market is there. Virginia ranks second out of five categories in terms of how affordable residential solar power installation is. While solar power can dramatically reduce your energy bills, the average cost of residential system in not insignificant – $10,000–$15,000 in our state. … Continue Reading

The Builder’s Wife: The Evolution of Green

May 2, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Lifestyle, Your Money Comments Off on The Builder’s Wife: The Evolution of Green
Piggybank

By Cathy Little

There’s a lot of talk these days about Going Green. But, how much of it is reasonable and useful to do?  Can we be kinder to the environment and reduce our utility bills without spending too much green to go green?!

Due to industry innovation many green technologies have improved in efficiency and come down in price in the last few years.

Others are not yet practical options for Northern Virginia. … Continue Reading

Amy V. Smith’s Money Talks

June 29, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy and Dan Smith, Columns, News, Your Money 2 comments
Amy Smith-BRL

Meet Amy Smith, our newest columnist who will write here each month on how to plan for an independent financial future. She will give special attention to the needs of pre-retirees and widowed and divorced women.

It’s hard to take up the subject of financial planning these days when so many individuals and families have been hit so hard by the recession. And yet, there’s probably no better time to begin to look ahead than right now.

As J. Pierpont Morgan, a gentleman who knew a fair bit about money, said, “The first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” … Continue Reading

Belt-tightening Homeowners Discover the Value of Do-It-Yourself Painting

October 28, 2010 by Blue Ridge Leader Business, News, Your Money Comments Off on Belt-tightening Homeowners Discover the Value of Do-It-Yourself Painting

By Debbie Zimmer

Declining home values, tight credit, and concern about the jobs picture are causing homeowners to scale back their remodeling plans, according to industry sources. At the same time, more consumers are discovering the satisfaction and cost-savings to be had with do-it-yourself painting. “While economic stress has taken its toll on consumer spending, people still want their homes to look attractive,” says Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute. “For many homeowners, the solution is to take things into their own hands and do their remodeling with paint.”

The economic benefit of sprucing up with paint is apparent when you consider the average cost of remodeling a kitchen or bath – two rooms that homeowners frequently focus on. According to the latest survey by Remodeling magazine, a mid-range bathroom remodel costs $16,142, while a “minor” kitchen remodel runs $21,411.

“By way of contrast, you’d be hard-pressed to spend more than $100 or so repainting a bathroom or kitchen yourself … For a few dollars more, you could even go one step further and repaint the cabinets and woodwork to give the room a totally new look. Granted, repainting would still leave the existing fixtures and appliances in place, but in terms of appearance, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders in remaking a room,” says Zimmer.

The story’s the same when it comes to exterior remodeling. Take the front door, for example. “The average cost of installing a new fiberglass entry door is nearly $3,500, but you could easily repaint an existing door for $30 or so in just a couple hours’ time,” Zimmer says.

Bigger savings are possible for those willing to tackle their exterior walls. Rather than spending more than $13,000 on average to have a contractor install vinyl siding, for example, the do-it-yourselfer’s cost for materials to repaint existing wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding would likely be well under $1,000.

“Do-it-yourself painters are the ones who reap the greatest savings, but big savings are available even to those who hire a professional painter to do the work,” says Zimmer. “It might cost $800 to hire a contractor to repaint a bathroom, but that’s a far cry from the $16,000 average cost to remodel the room.” For those who want to save the most and do their own painting, Zimmer offers some tips:

  • Spend time doing good surface preparation before starting to paint. Make sure all the surfaces are clean and free of dirt and rime, mildew, and flaking or peeling paint …

  • Use high quality brushes and rollers, and when working outdoors, use quality spraypainting equipment. Better tools and equipment apply the paint more evenly, make the work go faster, and produce a better-looking paint job. vUse top quality 100 percent acrylic latex paint.

Zimmer explains: “Since these paints have better hiding characteristics, they’ll cover even dark colors in fewer coats, and many of them function as both primer and paint. As a result, they offer a lot of built-in cost savings. Top quality 100 percent acrylic paints are also easy to apply and they produce a tough, durable finish that will last for years, making them a great value in terms of cost-per-year-of-service.”

According to Zimmer, the trend toward do-it-yourself painting, and painting in general, will likely continue. “Recent surveys indicate that consumers’ spending habits will be permanently changed as a result of today’s tough economic conditions. As time goes on, we expect more people to discover that repainting is a very affordable, and very effective, way to beautify their homes,” she says.

For more detailed information about surface preparation, paints, and painting, visit the Paint Quality Institute website at www.paintquality.com.

Small Steps To Add Energy Efficiency to Your Kitchen.

May 20, 2010 by Debi Skaggs Lifestyle, Your Money Comments Off on Small Steps To Add Energy Efficiency to Your Kitchen.

We are all aware of the push to save energy. Here are some easy ways to reduce energy usage in your kitchen. Most of us have heard some if not all of this before. A lot of us dismiss the information and continue life as usual. Try making a conscious effort when you’re in the kitchen to remember some these techniques. Don’t try to make too many changes at once. It will only frustrate you and you’ll slip back into the old habits. Try just one thing for starters, for example letting your dishes air dry. After a couple of weeks it will become habit. Next put a sign on your oven door, “Don’t Peek”. After a few false starts it too will become habit and you’ll be able to take the sign down.

Your appliances including your refrigerator, dishwasher and range use about 13 percent of your home’s energy. Here are some general guidelines for improving the efficiency and cutting energy costs.

Refrigerators

Adjust the refrigerator temperature settings. Optimum refrigerator range is 37 to 40°F and freezer range is 0 to 5°F. Check your owner’s manual for settings if the temperature control does not specify degrees. A full refrigerator retains cold better than an empty one. The mass of cold items will help the refrigerator to recover more quickly after the door has been opened however don’t overfill it. That will interfere with the circulation of cold air inside. Minimize door openings as much as possible, easier said than done with children in the house. When you do have to purchase a new one keep in mind that top freezer models are 10 to 25 percent more efficient than a side by side. And look for a model with an ENERGY STAR sticker.

Dishwashers

Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load. Running it after 7:00 p.m. will avoid using energy at peak hours. Avoid using the “rinse hold” setting on your dishwasher. “Rinse hold” uses three to seven gallons of hot water for each use, and heating water takes extra energy. Pieces of food can build up over the dishwasher drain and cause the dishwasher to work harder. Check the drain regularly to ensure it does not become clogged. If your dishwasher has an air-dry setting, use it instead of the heat-dry setting. You will cut the dishwasher’s energy use 15 to 50 percent. If there is no air-dry setting, turn the dishwasher off after its final rinse and open the door. When replacing your dishwasher choose an ENERGY STAR model with settings such as partial load setting (which uses less hot water) and energy-efficient drying cycles and the option of air dry and heat dry settings.

Cooking

Avoid preparing meals that require you to use the range or oven extensively on hot days. This helps to reduce the load on your air conditioner and makes you feel more comfortable in your home. Don’t peek. Every time you open the oven door to look at the food, the oven temperature is lowered by 25°F to 75°F. Use cooking time wisely. Turn off the electric range two to three minutes before the task is done and allow the residual heat to finish the job. Use microwave ovens to save energy. Microwave ovens are about 33 percent more efficient than convection ovens and 66 percent more efficient than conventional ovens. Use the right sized pot on stove burners. A 6″ pot on an 8″ burner wastes over 40 percent of the burner’s heat. Also, cover pots and pans to keep heat in. When it is time to replace the appliance if purchasing an electric range look for one containing ceramic, halogen or induction range elements. They are more efficient than the type containing electric coils. They are also easier to clean and allow for greater temperature control. Consider purchasing a self-cleaning oven. It’s better insulated than other models, so they are more energy-efficient when used appropriately. Select an oven with a window. This allows you to check food without opening the door. Consider a convection oven. A convection unit in combination with a conventional oven cooks faster at lower temperatures.

This article written by Debi Skaggs of Lou Who Contracting, Inc. for informational purposes only. Lou Who Contracting provides conventional and alternative Heating and Air Conditioning solutions for residential and light commercial buildings in Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick County Virginia.

Surviving the Holidays

December 10, 2009 by Michael Carter News, Your Money Comments Off on Surviving the Holidays

With Christmas fast approaching, panic is evident in the malls and shopping centers as people try to get all of their shopping done. With the tough economic situation this year, a little creativit … Continue Reading

Panel Offers Business Coaching

April 24, 2009 by Blue Ridge Leader Business, Your Money Comments Off on Panel Offers Business Coaching

April 24, 2009

Last Thursday the Town of Purcellville hosted a Small Business Roundtable at the Carver Center. The event brought area small business owners face-to-face with a panel of nine business experts who offered advice and insight along with 30-days of personal coaching and consultation at no cost.

The experts presented 10-minute tutorials on legal, insurance, healthcare, technology, and commercial real estate issues. Over the next 30-days, registered business owners can tap into these experts as their own private consultants to answer questions and discuss ideas.

To find out more about the Roundtable or other future Roundtables, call Dee Cook at 703-777-2581, or e-mail dee.cook@vafb.com. To register as a Purcellville area small business and to set up your own session with the panel members, call Patrick Childs at 703-338-7421, or e-mail PCHILDS@purcellvilleva.gov.

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Sustainable Planet

Shell Games

16 Jun 2015

noerpel150

“Let me be very very clear, for us climate change is real and it’s a threat that we want to act on. We’re not aligning with skeptics.” – Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell [1] “What …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Supporting a Transgender Child

1 Jul 2015

Michael_Pic

– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, My husband and I are worried because our 14-year-old daughter thinks that “he” is transgendered. It’s true that she’s always been interested in more masculine activities, and this past year she announced to …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

timjon

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

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Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

timjon

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

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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

donnawilliamson

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

moore-sobelnewmug

– 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

Smith0035

– 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

blueridgemiddleschool

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

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

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

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

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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MAIN STREET THEATER: AristoCats

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

MAIN STREET THEATER: AristoCats

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

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Garden Party

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: READERS THEATER

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

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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

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

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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

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Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

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

artist3

– 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

farmtofork

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

hillsborojuly3

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

governorsigns

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

McAuliffe

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

blueridge2

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

ULLLpic5

– 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

sarahcloset3

– 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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