Purcellville Town Council Forces Another Lawsuit

December 30, 2009 Loudoun County, News, Our Towns Comments Off on Purcellville Town Council Forces Another Lawsuit

For over a year the Board of Supervisors has attempted to get the Town of Purcellville to follow the annexation process that is put into place to protect an area from growing too fast. Growth in the Town of Purcellville is supposed to occur at a pace that the town can afford financially, and also the town must prove that they can provide utilities to in town zoning and recently annexed … Continue Reading

Good Shepherd Alliance Helps the Homeless

December 28, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Good Shepherd Alliance Helps the Homeless

Celebrating the Holidays in Loudoun County

December 28, 2009 Loudoun County, News Comments Off on Celebrating the Holidays in Loudoun County

Meghan Wilmoth, Steven Voss, Allison Clark (l to r) decorate gingerbread houses that will be given to needy Loudoun residents this season. Photo courtesy of Michael Carter

Houses are wrapped in festive lights, stuffed with cookies and presents, and filled with cheerful music as people center their lives around the overwhelming holiday season. There is another characteristic of this time of year not to be overlooked; it seems to bring out the neighborliness in a community.

Like the Whos down in Whoville, Loudoun County seems to join hands and spread the joy of the holidays. Loudoun Valley High School is a perfect illustration of holiday cheer, with many of the school’s groups finding ways to celebrate the season in any way possible.

Loudoun Valley’s Student Council Association, an organization often involved in acting as a model for the rest of the school, did its part by baking over 800 holiday cookies for faculty and staff to show appreciation for all the hard work they put into the school. The Student Council also gave students an opportunity to buy a “candy-gram” message for any of their peers to wish them a happy holiday season.

Valley’s PEER class, which requires each of its students to pick one project for the year, partook of the holiday season in their own way: Senior J.B. Driscoll’s made gingerbread houses to be given to families in need. Food drives go on throughout the year, but it’s rare for a frosting-coated treat like a gingerbread house to find its way into the hands of those who can hardly afford to eat; thanks to Valley’s PEER class, this became possible. PEER also aided SCA by delivering any extra cookies leftover from the teachers to give to the community.

The school’s German class decided to celebrate the season and bring a little German culture to the students at Valley. In Germany on every December 6th St. Nicholas visits all of the houses where girls and boys neatly line up their shoes in hopes St. Nicholas will fill them with candy; but naughty children can only expect “Krampus” (switches), the antithesis of St. Nicholas’s generosity. Of course, the German students only imitated Nicholas’s gift-giving kindness and filled with candy all the shoes that lined the halls.

Some of the French classes joined in the festivities by making cards and singing songs. After the school’s winter break, on the twelfth day of Christmas, the French classes will acknowledge “King’s day” with cake and celebration.

Whether through parties, cookies, or candy-grams, the students and faculty of Valley all find different ways to acknowledge the holiday season. The giving spirit of the season accompanies all of the other festivities celebrated annually that help bring joy to the community. For Loudoun County, this is just as much a part of the season as any song, cookie, or tree.

BRIDGES Express Gratitude

December 27, 2009 Dear Editor Comments Off on BRIDGES Express Gratitude

In light of the recent controversy over holiday displays, the undersigned members of Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES wish to express our gratitude to the members of Leesburg’s Christian community who reached out last year to include other faiths in this long tradition. While not all in our group agreed that the courthouse grounds are an appropriate venue for religious displays, several of our congregations responded to the gracious invitation. Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation and the Sikh community provided holiday displays to join the creche on the courthouse grounds, and speakers from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Sikh faiths provided remarks for an invocation given in the spirit of holiday celebration and community. This simple celebration of faith and understanding across boundaries remained throughout the holiday season for passersby to enjoy; readers can find photos and more information at www.loudouninterfaithbridges.org.

Unfortunately, some of the public comments following the prohibition of displays indicate a lack of awareness of these events. Many seem to believe that the display prohibition was intended as a ban on expressions of the Christian faith; some who signed the petition demanding reversal of the decision even made hateful remarks directed at other faiths. This misdirected anger is as disheartening as it is destructive.

Now that the Board of Supervisors has reversed the display prohibition, our hope is that in coming years we can return to the example put into practice last year, and that those communities of faith who wish to share a public celebration of the holiday season will do so with mutual respect, reverence, and great joy.

Unity of Loudoun County
St. James United Church of Christ, Lovettsville
Unitarian Universalists of Sterling
Sheila Kryston, Debra Dalby, Goose Creek Friends Meeting
All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Main Center
All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Ashburn
Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies
Rev. Dr. David Milam
Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashburn


December 27, 2009 Columns Comments Off on Snow

“Okay. To begin with you need underwear and pants.

No. I’m sure. You want to have a lot of warm layers.


You have to put the snow pants on before the boots.

Sit down and I can help you take the boots off.

I’m sorry. I didn’t know the melted snow was going to be there where you sat down.

Don’t cry. It’ll be okay, you just need a new pair of pants. Go get them and I’ll help you.

What do you mean you can’t find pants? Did you look in the laundry basket of clean folded laundry that I brought up to your room earlier this week for you to put away in your dresser?

Yeah, there might be some pants in there.

Okay, so we’re ready now? Let’s start with the snow pants.

Sit down on this towel I put on the floor and we’ll start at the feet.

I know the pants underneath get pushed up, I’ll help you pull them down once we’ve got these on. First this leg, then the other.

No. Different legs go in different holes.

All right, so you’re in, and then we just pull these up. Hold on, the straps are twisted. Okay all snapped up. Now we get the boots on.

They should be right here, we just had them. How can a pair of snow boots disappear in a hallway this cluttered?

Let’s just retrace our steps.

What? No. It was not the leprechaun.

Oh! Here they are! Behind you, underneath the towel I laid down. Okay. Put your hand on my shoulder while you –

Socks. You need socks. Go get some socks and come back.

They don’t need to match. Ready? Okay put your hand on my shoulder to balance and –

Other foot. I know but the shoe I’m holding open for you goes on the other foot. Okay let me just-

No, other, other. Other foot! Okay, just pick a foot and I’ll find the shoe to go on it.

Right then there’s just the other.

Can you handle the rest yourself? Great! Let me know if you need me I’ll be in the kitchen.

No Sweetheart, of course your hand is stuck. You have to put the coat on first, before the gloves. Well, because your glove will get stuck inside the sleeve, kind of like it has now.

Okay, coat on. Let me just zip you up. Hold up, zippers jammed.

Yikes! I’m sorry! Oh Honey, I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you’d be looking down like that and the zipper would catch you in the lip like that. No. It was stuck and then it was just going fast. The leprechaun did not push my hand to do that. Just a little bit of blood, see hardly anything. Let me put a little bit of chapstick on that so it doesn’t hurt if you start licking your lips while your outside.

What do you mean, what do I mean? You’re always licking your lips out there like some snowman lizard. No offense. Oh Honey, I didn’t think it would sting. Yes it’s mentholated.

Okay then. Ready for those mittens?

Hold your hand out for me. Now spread your thumb out. Aim for the thumb hole sweetheart.

You have to make your hand kind of stiff so the glove – that’s it. Okay almost done. Here’s the hat, and let me just pull the hood over that. There all done.

No, I’m coming. Well of course I don’t want you to die of the heat in here, I just didn’t know you couldn’t turn the knob with the gloves on. There you-

Honey, you have to step back so I can open the door. There you go. Have fun. . . .

3 minutes later

Okay, okay, okay. Let’s get the coat off and then we can pull down the snowpants and you can go straight to the bathroom.

You don’t have to take the boots off if it’s an emergency. No, really we can just pull them down.

Okay all right. All set? Okay go go go. What do you mean where? You said you had to use the bathroom! Okay. Yes.

7 minutes later

Well of course your hands are hurting, you took off your gloves! Why did you take off your gloves?

Did you even play at all out there or did you just sit there and eat it while your hands froze?

Yes, I’ll make some cocoa.

Now? Are you serious? You want to go out now? You know you’re brother just came in. You sure you don’t want to play with him? No, the great outdoors, I’m a fan too. Okay can you find some socks for yourself?

What? Really? Leprechaun must have taken them. Oh well. Want some cocoa?”

Alice Mullen says a lot of things, and hardly anyone takes her seriously. You shouldn’t either. The Blue Ridge Leader is not responsible for what she says, only the punctuation and grammar with which she says it. If you are a raging lion of literary litigation, longing for lunch and feel particularly litigious there are tastier morsels elsewhere. Shoo bad kitty. Meow.

Snickers Gap Tree Farm

December 21, 2009 Uncategorized Comments Off on Snickers Gap Tree Farm

Christmas for Others

December 21, 2009 News, Our Towns Comments Off on Christmas for Others

In the spirit of the holiday season, many local churches are trying to find ways to give back to their community. While the ways in which different churches serve vary, they range from giving trees … Continue Reading

Good and Bad: A Review

December 16, 2009 Columns Comments Off on Good and Bad: A Review

Have you asked any one small about requests for a certain fellow wearing red? No, not Satan worshipers of small stature. Sheesh, what kind of circles do you run in? Stay on topic will you? It’s December, of course I’m talking about kids and Santa Claus.

I’m concerned with the horrible state of confidence these kids have. When I was little there was fear and apprehension. There was a lot of talk about lists, and good and bad. Hope for that shiny whatever, lived in a tenuous balance, with the fear that someone had seen the things you thought no one had seen you do. Maybe this almost cocky bravado I see now is because these are the most watched children ever. Could it be that with constant supervision we’ve removed the chance for kids to be bad? Have we taught them that monitoring their behavior is our job, not theirs? How else can you explain the latest trend, the elf on the shelf.

Have you seen this? It’s a doll of an elf that comes in a box with a book. Parents read the book to indoctrinate kids in the latest twist on an old theme and then set the elf on a shelf (hence the name). Each night this elf comes to life and flies back to the North Pole, reporting directly to Santa about the child’s behavior. Apparently the elf has a great memory for detail, but can’t recall which shelf he was on when he returns in the morning so kids will see him shifting where he is throughout the house in the weeks before Christmas.

This is beyond creepy to me. The story is convoluted enough without adding things. Next time someone decides to spice things up, could we hold it up for a vote? Whatever happened to being good for goodness sake? It’s not going to take long for some enterprising youth to deduce that killing the messenger is an effective way to kill the message. That’s just a practical conclusion, a simple problem of reasoning -but parents will worry, and therapists will thrive in the elf doll killing boom that will follow.

And why does Santa suddenly need a henchman? I’m guessing this elf is just some nephew from the wife’s side of the family that he had to give a job. It won’t work out. Pretty soon he’ll be hitting the eggnog complaining about how the big guy doesn’t understand the dangers of working in the field. He’ll start hassling the tooth fairy asking her why she thinks she’s too good for him and he’ll go off on a bender with Jack Frost. Then we’ll be out running last minute errands and the road will be so bumpy it’ll make our CDs skip because, you know, Frost heaves. But all that’s besides the point. The point is that the system is breaking down!

We all know that this coal thing is starting to sound like an empty threat. Frankly if Santa can afford in this economy to take on more employees than we can afford to delegate a bit too. So as my public service for the season I submit for your approval the Self Evaluation Form for Santa:

Santa Evaluation Form

Print this out and you can sit down with the kid in question and hash out all the nonsense of the year. Give them an opportunity to reflect on their actions at the one time of year we have any chance of them listening. And that’s sort of what the season is about?

If this doesn’t work I’m going to rent a Santa. Always the bargain hunter I think they’ll be really cheap in the summer and I’m going to pay one to sit in the park and watch my kids bicker and fight with each other as he quietly takes notes in a journal.

Alice Mullen says a lot of things, and hardly anyone takes her seriously. You shouldn’t either. The Blue Ridge Leader is not responsible for what she says, only the punctuation and grammar with which she says it. If you are a raging lion of literary litigation, longing for lunch and feel particularly litigious there are tastier morsels elsewhere. Shoo bad kitty. Meow.

Agrees with Supervisors

December 15, 2009 Dear Editor Comments Off on Agrees with Supervisors

I am pleased the Board of Supervisors made the correct decision to allow holiday displays at the Leesburg Courthouse. Holiday displays can be found in towns and cities all over the country and the citizens of Loudon should have the ability to display holiday decorations and even Christian symbols during this time of the year. In 1984, the Supreme Court in Lynch vs. Donnelly ruled holiday displays on public grounds did not violate the constitution. The wonderful traditions of Christmas can hardly be offensive. For most, Christmas symbols and customs are welcomed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

The Board correctly recognized holiday displays were not extreme and viewed favorably by county residents. The only unfortunate dissent was Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge). Mr. Burton reasoned “I believe it is inappropriate and unwise to make a decision today without a full understanding of the risk,” adding “I am concern that this motion will turn the courthouse grounds into a public circus.” Mr. Burton believes allowing holiday displays may lead to other unwanted displays from controversial groups. It’s my opinion the decision on whether or not to allow displays was made nearly 50 years ago when the Rotary Club of Leesburg began providing a Christmas tree for the courthouse property. For at least several years a simple nativity has been displayed as well. I believe the circus Mr. Burton worries about might just be similar to the circus we have had in Leesburg for nearly 50 years a tree, a nativity scene and some holiday cheer. I am glad the Board of Supervisors decided to bring back the Leesburg Courthouse Christmas circus for another year.

Keith Melton, Purcellville

Editors Note: Click here for the full text of Supervisor Jim Burton’s statement.

Click here to see the rules of use for courthouse grounds.

Money Talks

December 15, 2009 Committees at a Glance Comments Off on Money Talks

“This is one thousand dollars in cash.” Bill Druhan spread out a wad of greenbacks on the mahogany desktop in the Purcellville town hall. “I’ll give it to anybody who can find the word ‘school’ in this document!”

At the Purcellville Planning Commission Meeting last week, Druhan, the former mayor and a commissioner on the board, presented his case for traffic reform with gusto. According to Druhan, all of Purcellville’s traffic problems are a direct result of the new schools that have gone up in the Purcellville area in the years since the last 20-25 traffic study. The study, though accurate in 2002 when it was published, does not address the possibility of out-of-town commuters to and from schools such as Harmony from other parts of Loudoun County. Once a day during the school year, residential streets such a Maple Ave. and 9th street are flooded with unwelcome traffic that not only makes life difficult for Purcellville residents, but also harms the roads.

“This study is totally flawed,” Druhan said. “This is where our problem is at.” Druhan, who lives on Maple Ave. and has seen the crisis up close every day, wants to reevaluate Purcellville traffic patterns and take action to clear up the roads. Commissioner Tom Priscilla agreed, but suggested that nothing can be done for Purcellville without the availability of county funding.

“The county is obligated to help the town,” Priscilla said, “but whenever we approach them they throw up their hands and say ‘we’re broke’” Large scale solutions that involve county funding take more time than residents are willing to give. Druhan suggested the installation of speed bumps or other traffic control devices on Maple Ave. and 9th Street to discourage through traffic.

Chairman Beese concluded the discussion by stating that Purcellville needs an “in-between-time” plan to help maintain order until the town can obtain the funding it needs. Loudoun County, after turning down numerous petitions for funding on the basis of the 2002 traffic study, may need to reevaluate their sources.

Commissioner Priscilla scooped up the 1000 dollars after the meeting adjourned and handed them back to Druhan. “Keep it as my donation to improving Purcellville’s roads,” he said. “That’s how serious I am about this.”

Blue Ridge Leader News – December 13, 2009

December 15, 2009 News, Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News – December 13, 2009

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

A Christmas Conversation

December 14, 2009 News Comments Off on A Christmas Conversation

“Have you seen the lights in Hamilton this year? And Round Hill? even Lincoln? I took the kids out driving the other night just to try to find the brightest. It seems that everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen ’em. How can I miss ’em? Gaudy, vulgar displays of ostentatious one-upmanship. All they do is enrich VEPCO and pollute the night sky. Those mass-produced lighted deer everyone has prancing through their yards have about as much to do with Christmas as the muzak in the malls: ‘Angels we have heard on high/ Tell us to go out and buy!'”

“Hey, lighten up, already. I love the lights. Don’t be such a grinch.”

“Me? A Grinch? I didn’t steal Christmas. Wal-Mart did. Television did. GE did. I’m simply pointing it out. Why do you think people create all those expensive displays? At best, they represent a totally phony constructed kind of happiness that doesn’t do anything more to hide the darkness than the artificial cheer of alcohol does.”

“Ok, maybe the whole thing is forced, and maybe it’s even phony. But what makes you think that those of us who love the artificial lights don’t know the darkness that they keep at bay?”

“Because I hear nothing in the malls but ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ and ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.’ What’s the point of ‘Rudolph’ anyhow? All his colleagues hate the guy ’till the boss needs him, and then suddenly ‘all the other reindeer love him.’ It’s a celebration of office politics at its worst, as meaningful as a neon Frosty the Snowman on the roof. The only Christmas display I ever liked was one that said ‘BAH HUMBUG’ in blinking colored lights.”

“That, my friend, is because you are looking much too closely only at the fluff on the surface. Stand back a bit. Stand way back. The circle of light, even of the biggest displays, is not all that big. The loudest caroling cannot be heard two blocks away. We all feel the cold darkness of the season, the shortness of the days, the length of the nights, the death of the land. And we all have our personal wolves prowling out there. Even before Christianity put the “Christ” in Christmas, our ancestors had their festivals of light and artificial happiness at this time of year. Of course it’s artificial. What else have we humans got to keep away our prowling fears but our hopes and the artificial constructs that remind us of our hopes?”

“Then you admit that Jesus isn’t real? That the whole thing is one big, noisy, empty myth?”

“Whether Jesus is ‘real’ is not the point. Is hope real? We have three grim months of winter ahead of us. Will there be a Spring? I hope so. I even believe so. But hope is a pretty abstract concept. The birth of Jesus is a good symbol for the birth of hope. We need symbols; we can’t live in abstractions. To me, all those lights, artificial as they are, all those out-of-tune carolers, even the commercial vulgarity of the malls, is part of the need to construct out of whatever materials we have at hand symbols of our determination. The lights may be vulgar, but they are also brave, like a flickering candle in the wind. Some may see only the artificial light; you may see only the darkness; but to stand back and see them both, the flickering light framed by the blackness of darkness against the winter night, is a real symbol of real hope. So there, and Merry Christmas!”

David Williams’ latest book, Searching for God in the Sixties, is due out this Christmas

Surviving the Holidays

December 10, 2009 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









A Habitable Planet


“At the moments when we are able to separate ourselves from our daily concerns and ponder deeply, most of us have encountered fundamental questions of our existence as human beings. Where do we come from? What happened before humans appeared …

Choose Joy, Don’t Go Negative

Lunde new

Sometimes life is pleasant and it is easy to smile, other times it is not. The real question is how do you react and live your life when you are going through trials? What do you do when you feel …

Character Outlives Us All


“Brains are like muscles, you can rent them by the hour, but at the end of the day all you have left is your character.” This statement was uttered by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a phrase his father used …

Foxridge Park

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth- Foxridge Park-1

You know, I can still taste those sausages: The first early-spring bratwurst cooked over an open flame in a beautiful setting among good friends; nothing so surprising, really, in recalling a good meal in classic context. The thing is, though …

Planning for Life Disclosure and Other Family Issues in Estate Planning


What do we tell the kids? Questions of how much and what type of information to give the children often arise during consultation. The answers depend on the circumstances of each family – the ages and maturity of the children …

A Look Into What Is Learned in High School English

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde English is the arguably the most important subject for a student in high school to learn. The most successful people in the world have one thing in common — being able to communicate effectively. This is …


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 …


Oh No, It’s the Christians!


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

Dear Editor

Isn’t Loudoun Better Than This?


More than forty years I have watched a rising tide of development flowing from the east across Loudoun. Once it was thought the western mountains would be spared the flood. …

View From the Ridge

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 …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016


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

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8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015


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


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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May 2016
25 26 27

Hamilton Town Hall

28 29

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


Lobster Day with Chef Seb at North Gate Vineyard

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Spring Wine Glass Painting with Penny


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

TGIF @ North Gate Vineyard!


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

The Sprouted Spoon Food Truck at North Gate Vineyard

Nathaniel Davis Live at North Gate Vineyard

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Celebrate Mother's Day at North Gate Vineyard!

Mother's Day Brunch at Breaux


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Dog Day at Breaux Vineyards


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Senior Caregiver Training

Hillsboro Ruritan Club Dinner Meeting


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Strawberry Afternoon Tea


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Strawberry Afternoon Tea


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Land Trust of Virginia Annual Garden Party


Waterford Concert


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

A Taste of Paris and View of Normandy at Breaux Vineyards

Annie Stokes Live at North Gate Vineyard


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Paella by Carlos at North Gate Vineyard


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson


It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison


It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Free Gardening Lecture


It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison


It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

Yard Sale

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event



It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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Movies in the Park Return to Ida Lee This Summer

25 May 2016


“101 Dalmatians” kicks off the season on Thursday, May 26. Get the popcorn ready! The Town of Leesburg will once again be hosting Movies in the Park this summer. This free series will feature an evening movie on the third Thursday of each month throughout the summer, hosted at Ida Lee Park.

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New Concert Series Comes to Purcellville

20 May 2016


On Sunday, June 5 at 4:00 p.m., internationally recognized pianist Brian Ganz will present an all-Chopin recital at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 711 W. Main Street in Purcellville. The recital will feature several of Frédéric Chopin’s studies for solo piano, including the renowned “Revolutionary” Etude, among other works by the Romantic master. Ganz, who recently moved to Purcellville from Annapolis, …

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Eucharistic Procession To Pass Through Leesburg May 29

20 May 2016


– By Mark Gunderman Each year, Catholics around the world celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), symbolizing their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. In the United States, the celebration of Corpus Christi is held on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. This is a time when Catholics can demonstrate their …

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Around Virginia

Out and About Loudoun and Beyond

The Plains’ charming restaurants, shops and sidewalks.

Five Stone’s Throw Spring and Summer Destinations By Andrea Gaines Bordered by the Potomac River to the north and beautiful mountains to the west – and with easy access to Rt. 95, the Dulles Toll Road and Route 66 – Loudouners have no short list of fun spring places to …

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Update: Remains Located in Shenandoah National Park; Search Efforts Suspended

VSP Photo - 4-21-16 Whiteoak Canyon Trail Entrance VSP

Update: Body preliminarily identified as Nicole K. Mittendorff, 31, of Woodbridge. The physical and digital evidence collected during the course of this investigation includes a note recovered from the car leads investigators to believe there was no foul play involved in her death. ——————– Search efforts in the Shenandoah National …

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Virginia Trooper Shot and Killed at Richmond Bus Terminal

Tpr Dermyer Patrol Car in front of VSP SPHQ

A Virginia State Police trooper has died as a result of his injuries after being shot on March 31 at the Greyhound Bus station in the 2900 block of North Boulevard in Richmond. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Virginia State Police Trooper Chad P. Dermyer approached a male subject just inside …

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Western Loudon Volleyball Club “Hitmen” Team Finishes Second

3 Feb 2016


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

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ODFC West Travel Soccer Program Shines

2 Dec 2015


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

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