Supervisor Burton To Meet on Wednesday, March 31

March 30, 2010 News Comments Off on Supervisor Burton To Meet on Wednesday, March 31

Supervisor Jim Burton will hold a community meeting at the Carver Center in Purcellville on Wednesday, March 31, at 7:00 p.m. During this meeting, Supervisor Burton will update the citizens on issues facing the county. There will be an opportunity for residents to voice concerns and talk about issues.

Blue Ridge Leader News for Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010 Loudoun County, News, Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News for Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where’s Charles Bronson when you need him?

Well don’t be too surprised if you read that the two suspects- I felt like calling them something else- in the sexual battery case on a woman along Gleedsville Road get nabbed in a hurry. The story’s getting more than local attention- as it should; authorities released information on the case that indicates they’ve got enough evidence on these guys to make arrests just a matter of time- a good thing, in everyone’s book.

For those who haven’t heard: a Leesburg motorist accepted a ride from two unidentified men after leaving her broken-down vehicle along the roadway; she successfully fought off their ‘advances’ and got out of their truck.

This all occurred this past Wednesday evening in the area of Gleedsville & Woodside Place- just a couple miles south of town.

At least, let’s hope their apprehension’s just a matter of time.

The men drove a dark pickup with West Virginia tags: wonder how many of those there are.

Costs Too Much

And- it’ll all be over soon- at least the decision part- then we get to live with the consequences (kinda like the health care package, which we’ll get into later). The fish or cut bait time’s rolling around on the County Budget- and it doesn’t look like a whole lotta fun- for anyone, really.

Supervisors are bewailing the responsibility of cutting programs or raising taxes (or both) school supporters are complaining about hardships on their end, citizens are crying about bigger tax bills or needed projects getting left out in the cold.

Not a real good time.

The County Board relented a bit on the education cuts- $25 million instead of $30 million, but you can figure that still means jobs and teacher raises and other actual differences in the classroom- over and above the annual rhetoric about the need to support good schools.

This year, it feels a bit different.

It’ll feel real different for those who find their positions unneeded in the next academic year, lemme tell you.

It all comes to a head in about a week; the Supervisors figure to vote on all of this stuff at their first meeting in April- coming right around the corner.

One thing you can bet on: absolutely no one will be happy about the results- at least no one who follows this stuff.

Just remember- we warned ya.

A Study in Contrasts

And in this corner…the story on the budget for the town of Leesburg remains fairly quiet- with a few exceptions. We’ve heard talk that some Council Members favor a lower tax rate- or at least the act of looking at one- while at the same time expressing support for some key improvement projects.

The Mayor commented pretty succinctly that it’ll be hard to have it both ways.

Just bear in mind that it’s an election year for town officials in Loudoun County, so some of this may be a bit posture-esque, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Well, just be glad they don’t have the problems the County Board does- what with school funding an annual albatross.

Not so Fast, Council Members!

There is one sticky wicket left out in the open for the County Seat to deal with, though: the water rate saga is now in the 11th hour; the battle over out-of-town rates gets its day in Supreme Court, after all.

And even though it looked pretty grim for the Council’s decision to double the outsiders’ rates, I wouldn’t go jumping to any conclusions on this one; lawsuits are funny things- they don’t always go as planned or wished-for.

In fact, at this point, I almost lean to the underdog- the Town.

Not sure why- maybe ’cause they’re going out on such a limb- financially and politically speaking.

Citizens generally don’t like this sort of thing- spending money to defend an official decision- especially after a local judge ruled against their vote.

Tom Horne’s decision came about a year ago, and the appeal process took up the interim.

So, the elected leaders may appear to fall on their sword, or emerge in vindication- we’ll see.

No Pit Stops
And- you remember the story about Loudoun being the richest County in the land? Well, we’re also (still) one of the fastest-growing. The US Census reported the last decade placed us in the top five in the United States- as far as population increase is concerned.

Loudoun hit the 300 thousand mark during that time- as of July First, 2009 we notched exactly 301,171.

We started the decade (April First, 200. that is) at 169,599.

Quite a change.

Ever wondered why there’s so much traffic on the highway- or why we need to build so con-tarn many schools?

And not only does Loudoun County have a lot of newcomers (people from all over the globe, actually), but we have a high birth rate as well, so do the math.

(Well, actually the Census folks did.)

Also- stay tuned for the results of the current Census project- those numbers should come out in a little over a year- for the latest population figures for Loudoun as well as the rest of the United States.

If our 77 percent growth rate over the past decade continues, well, we’ll have a lot more people by 2020- like 530 thousand and change.

Think they’re screamin’ over the school and highway budgets now?

You ain’t heard nothin’.

What a D…!

Six feet of February snow in Loudoun County!

What, that’s now news, you say?

Well, ya got me there- BUT- you take that 72 inches of white stuff, add up the expenses on dealing with it, apply to the federal government, and bingo- you come up with disaster status!

Or at least that’s the plan.

Northern Virginia’s in the process of putting together their data for submission to the Federal Emergency Management Agency- FEMA, since they’d be the ones writing the check.

The disaster declaration already came for the stuff we got back in December- and that was just a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the dumping of last month- yeah, it was just last month that this all happened.

Kinda hard to believe now, eh?

Well, reports show that the area could receive something like $100 million for all the effort that went into getting rid of those February snowfalls.

But remember, this is government, so don’t hold your breath.

They got bigger fish to fry, I’m sure.

And, that brings us to…

The Best (way)Laid Plans

OK- this health care thing; I’m sure you’ve read and heard all the comments and blogs and political-speak you care for- and if you haven’t, I have real concerns for you.

However, my real worry on this is that it will leave our country suffering from more mental and emotional health issues than anything else; if you don’t understand that statement, just turn on your TV and look for the Beverly Hillbillies or something.

This initiative has left people divided to the extent seen at the time of the Vietnam- or God forbid- the Civil- War.

It’s perhaps more than ever, a frightening time to be an American.

We’ll leave it at that.

There’s a Rainbow!

But this too shall pass. I want to make sure we leave on a positive note: this is a special time of year in Loudoun County, and I for one enjoy every nuance.

I recommend some of our local recreational diversions like local Easter Egg Hunts (even though they usually can’t use the religious connotations), the organization of area gardening groups, and even a drive to that city to the east with all the cherry trees.

Some spring notes accrued on my personal travels: lots of lambs gamboling on the farms from the north to south (off Mountain Road and Goose Creek Lane), the insanely engaging mockingbirds in song at nesting time, fields and pastures turning a green to make Ireland envious, and local flora going into the swing of full bloom.

May as well enjoy it; it’s all there.

Thanks for joining us- Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

Passive Solar Energy

March 28, 2010 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Passive Solar Energy

Contributed by Will Stewart

Will Stewart is a systems engineer with an educational background in electromechanical engineering that included solar engineering, HVAC design, combustion equations, feedback control theory, among others. Mr Stewart has continued to research advances in solar techniques and building materials advances, and seeks to apply this knowledge in helping Loudoun become more energy independent.

Passive solar refers to the design and placement of a building to enable solar heating without the need for sensors, actuators, and pumps, in contrast to active solar, which utilizes pumps/blowers, sensors, and logic control units to manage collection, storage, and distribution of heat. The two techniques are not exclusive, however, and can work together effectively.

As solar radiation (insolation) is a diffuse energy source, and not at the beck and call of a thermostat, passive solar design techniques are at their best when combined with other related methods, such as energy efficiency (insulation, weatherization, building envelope minimization), daylighting, passive cooling, microclimate landscaping, and a conservation lifestyle (i.e., temperature settings, raising and lowering of insulated shades, etc). Most of these topics will be covered in other articles, though passive cooling will be addressed in this series, which is intended as an overview, as a complete engineering treatment on passive solar design would require several dozens of articles.

Even though solar insolation is diffuse, and generally weaker the further away from the equator, it can be the basis for the majority of a building’s heat energy input even in high latitude places such as Canada, Norway, Germany, the Northern US (Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington state, etc), Scotland, the Netherlands, etc. Even the US Department of Defense has a passive solar design guide. Design approaches such as Passivhaus have achieved up to 90 percent reduction in energy use over traditional building methods. In areas with reasonably consistent winter insolation, well insulated passive solar buildings with sufficient thermal mass storage can approach 100% of their space heating needs with passive solar. Enhancements can be added to existing buildings, through major or minor renovations, or through simple additions (Part 4 of the series).


The Greeks faced severe fuel shortages in fifth century BC, resorting to arranging their houses so that each could make maximum use of the sun’s warming rays. A standard house plan emerged, with Socrates noting, “In houses that look toward the south, the sun penetrates the portico in winter.” The great Greek playwright Aeschylus even proclaimed only primitives and barbarians “lacked knowledge of houses turned to face the winter sun”. The Romans picked up on this technique, and improved it by adding windows of mica or glass to better hold in the heat. They passed laws to protect the solar access rights of owners of solar homes from shading by new buildings. In the Americas, the Pueblo and Anazazi took advantage of solar insolation in their adobe and cave dwellings, respectively.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, solar greenhouses became popular for those of means to grow exotic tropical plantlife in temperate climes. In the 20th century, German architects such as Hannes Meyer, director of the influential Bauhaus architectural school, urged the use of passive solar design techniques that began to flourish in the 1930s, only to be pushed aside by the Nazis and WWII. Many German architects made their way to the US, and a small solar market developed. Built in 1948, Rosemont elementary school in Tuscon obtained over 80% of its heat via solar means, but in 1958, with cheap energy now available and an extensive addition planned, the school district chose to go with a gas-fired furnace. The 1970s saw more emphasis on renewable energy, and passive solar became a household word, though still only penetrating a very tiny percentage of builders’ visions for the new homes market. More in-depth passive solar history details can be found at the California Solar Center.

The Basics

Location and Orientation

To assess whether passive solar is advantageous to a location, one must first find out the amount of winter sunlight that is available. The simplest way is to find solar insolation data for the site under consideration, ideally collected over a series of decades (noting that a changing climate can mean the data may need to be extrapolated). The data can come in tabular or map form, with the latter providing a quick indicator of the amount of winter insolation in one’s area. Tabular data, however, is more precise, giving one the best information available about trends in their area. A note of caution: the data is usually an average of conditions, and does not necessarily take into consideration unusual weather years or how the climate may change in one’s area of consideration.

Accessing the Data

Most of the maps and tabular data measure solar insolation as kWh/m2/day, which is roughly the number of kilowatt hours of energy striking a square meter of surface in a day. This is also referred to as a Sun Hours on some maps, and we will refer to it as such throughout this series. You can find data for our area at National Renewable Energy Labs (select the month you are interested in and “South Facing Vertical Flat Plate”).

The orientation of the building will determine how much solar insolation is captured during the desired period of the day. For example, a passive solar house facing the equator will receive an equal amount of solar heat before and after noon. The more a building is oriented away from true south (or north in the southern hemisphere) the less winter solar insolation it will be able to capture, and it becomes more susceptible to undesirable summer solar energy that is harder to shade with a properly sized overhang. In addition to direct solar insolation beaming down from the sun, there is also diffuse radiation from the sky, and reflected radiation from the ground.

Our passive solar house is amazing warm, bright, and cheery on winter days, even when the weather is well below freezing. Adding passive solar features to a house or other building will help reduce energy costs, emissions, and in the case of propane, reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies.

Blood Drive At Loudoun Valley High School

March 27, 2010 Loudoun County, Schools Comments Off on Blood Drive At Loudoun Valley High School

After much planning and organization the March 19 blood drive at Loudoun Valley, which was sponsored by the National Honor Society (NHS) and the American Red Cross, commenced without any glitches and many lives may have been saved thanks to these efforts.

“We had a basic interest meeting showing that we’d be interested in the blood drive. I volunteered and then the NHS members voted on who would organize the blood drive,” said junior Henry Benitez, who was one of four NHS members to help coordinate the blood drive.

The coordinators of the blood drive were responsible for making posters advertising the drive, collecting peoples’ permission slips, and setting up appointments for the donors.

“We signed people up a couple weeks in advance, we made posters, and handed out flyers. We were hoping to get at least 100 kids and a few teachers to help donate blood,” said junior Casey Crouse, who also helped coordinate the blood drive.

As the blood drive approached, NHS members began to think that they may not achieve the goal of 100 students, however, students came through, and on the day of the blood drive, more people showed up than were expected.

“We got about 90 kids to sign up and a few more decided to come the day of the drive, which was really nice,” Crouse said.

Despite the fact that nearly 100 students wanted to donate blood, some students were turned away due to new health restrictions set forth by the American Red Cross.

“We actually had a lot of deferrals for either low iron or insufficient weight and height,” said junior Amy Armentrout, who helped Crouse and Benitez organize the blood drive.

Despite the numerous deferrals, the Red Cross drive was still extremely successful, and NHS members are anticipating another successful blood drive in the fall.

“I see this as a learning experience for next time…we will be better prepared, and if it’s the same volunteers with me, then it will be perfect. We’ll know what to do,” Benitez said.

Crouse added “I feel like now that we’ve ironed out all the problems we’ve had with this one, just little things, that we’ll do even better next year. I think we’re going to shoot a little higher and start a little earlier.”

Armentrout went on to say “I think giving blood is a really great thing to do. It’s not like you can give money or something, someone has to give it.”

An Apology?

March 25, 2010 Dear Editor Comments Off on An Apology?

Let me first clarify that I serve on several Boards, Committees, and yes, I am an appointed member of the Purcellville Planning Commission for which I receive $1,800 (before taxes) annually. I personally would serve on this commission without any compensation, but State Code does not permit that, so, all public monies I have received for the past decade to date for my community service I have donated to charity. I also have never requested nor have been paid for legitimate out-of-pocket expenses for my community service as I view this as volunteer work.

When I speak before any public forum, unless otherwise identified, I comment as a “regular” citizen. Further, when and where it is required to sign-up for public comment, I indicate that I speak for “self”, unless otherwise identified or stated.

As to my February Town Council public comments I must apologize for my selfish, inconsiderate, self-important and bullying behavior in defending my family’s health, safety and welfare from the incessant cut through and speeding traffic in my “turn-of-the-century” neighborhood and my adjacent neighbors on 9th Street that occurs at all hours of the day and night virtually making the situation unlivable. As a town resident of 30 years, I should have displayed more tolerance and followed the example of Ms.
Rosette who would not be a hypocrite if incessant cut through and speeding traffic at all hours of the day and night was occurring in her Hirst Farm neighborhood.

I also should not have been so blissfully ignorant and insensitive not to realize the empathy that some Hirst Farm residents have for the owners of Crooked Run Orchard Farm as Hirst Farm too was “split” by an un-necessary road – Rt. 690, which only brought more development (including the 240 homes now occupying what was [Hirst] farm land) and more traffic into and out of town. As we all know, farmland lost, is farmland lost forever. I can now see that some Hirst Farm residents have every right to protest the completion of the SCR even if it was a requirement for the build-out of their community and three other communities; Locust Grove, Brown’s Farm and Case Farm as well as use any road they wish for their convenience.

In the end, we are all neighbors; I don’t cut through your neighborhood, please don’t cut through mine. Please treat with respect and keep safe our Maple Avenue/9th Street neighborhoods as you would expect the same respect and well being of your own neighborhood.

Bill Druhan

News for Sunday Morning, March 21st, 2010

March 25, 2010 Loudoun County, News, Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on News for Sunday Morning, March 21st, 2010

Following the Bouncing County Budget Ball
So, you’re happily employed, expecting a raise in salary this year, and look forward to watching your kids play ball on one of the many County park facilities this summer- after, of course, they do their studying in one of the various public libraries scattered across Loudoun. You’ve got it pretty good.

Now, a change in perspective.

It seems that the lowly folks who teach most of our local students can forget a pay raise for awhile, but we can still afford to add new ballfields to the list, and one of these years the libraries may very well find themselves open only on selected days due to hard financial times.

At least, that’s the way it sounds from the latest budget talks coming from the Board of Supervisors.


The latest school cut proposal stands at $30 million dollars- and, while the Board can’t pick ‘n choose how the school system spends its money, it’s calculated that the teachers would come out on the short end of the stick on that one.

Hope they know what they’re doin.’

The Board batted the ballfield item around awhile as well in their latest deliberations: Supervisors contemplated funding only enough for the Phil Bolen park project to open up access to the public sports facilities; they relented and moved forward with the entire project, from what we heard.

They also did some backtracking on an earlier cut slated for the Libraries: seems a $1 million dollar slash would have forced closings a couple of days a week- now it looks like they’re safe- at least for this year.

Oh- and we didn’t mention the decision on enlarging the local jail: the Supervisors decided to maintain funding on that project as well (we neglected it ’cause public safety is so often publicly ignored- until it’s needed).

In this wonderful, 21st Century society of ours, we need ever-expanding accommodations for the growing number of criminal malcontents who refuse to live by our rules ‘n regulations.

Loudoun County: a great place to live, work ‘n play, right?

But hold that thought- it’s not done yet.

Train Pain

Did you hear about the big decision to keep the site of a future train station right where it is (was)? Yep- the County Board voted to ignore a landowner (developer)’s plea to shift the hub a bit to link up a little closer to his proposed project.

The Supervisors say it would cost 10’s of millions of dollars to make the shift at this point- according to word they received from the empire builders on the incoming train line- the Metro Airports Authority.

So, a certain HC Antigone wanted to move the station site by about three football fields; now, it seems as if he may scrap his whole development proposal- which I’m sure would have saved Loudoun County from some terrible future woe.

Well, I’d like a train station to come up to my house- heck, I’m a pretty important guy- and I bet there’s lots of folks who feel the same way.

You want a train station, too, you say?

Well, let’s build a bunch of ’em.

Here a train station, there a train station- everywhere a train station.

Wait a minute.

I distinctly remember- during a previous incarnation in New York City- that I had to walk basically from the East River in Peter Cooper Village all the way to Third Avenue to catch a ride on the morning subway to work; then, I traversed the western edge of Chinatown and a little stint of TriBeCa to get to my destination- a total of at least a mile.

Then I had to repeat it in the afternoon.

And, contrary to popular belief, I’m not an Olympic athlete.

And people in Loudoun County can’t walk 600 feet?

Sure, I’ll buy that.

In fact, I’ll gladly pay my tax share of the money it would cost to move that train station in order to accommodate their easy access.

You bet.

Thing is, though, we’ve pretty much taught our citizens to think this way: we build roads for cars instead of creating a public transportation system, which may be, arguably, unfeasible without a minimum population threshold.

So, next time you’re stuck in eastbound traffic on Route Seven some sunny morning, think about how much extra you wanna pay in order for someone else to walk less to get on a train.

No Taxation Without

Here’s a question for people in Leesburg: what do you get for your (double) tax dollar? Since you pay to the Town and the County, we just wanted to know if you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

See, this year’s budget in Leesburg figures to keep the tax rate the same; that means you may pay even less, since most assessments went down.

Wish the County had that situation- the ability to fund and keep the tax rate where it is.

Well, the Leesburg Town Council’s having a public hearing on this stuff on Tuesday night; it’d be a good chance to find out how folks feel about the relative funding levels for police, water ‘n sewer, road repairs (and construction!), parks, airport improvements, sidewalks ‘n trails and all kinds of things.

Bet those Council Members are glad they don’t have to worry about how to fund the County’s public school system.

One from way up in the Northern Hinterlands

So, have you been to the new Town Center up in Lovettsville? You know- that quaint little town way up in Northern Loudoun- way up there by Brunswick, Maryland?

You didn’t know they had a Town Center?

Well, a lot of Lovettsville residents probably don’t know either- ’cause they really don’t- at least not yet.

See, the project’s only partially done- plans changed when the development ran up against the recession- now, the designs call for lower-end housing and other amenities- in contrast to the glowing predictions of the project at its ribbon-cutting some years ago.

Well, anyway- with local elections coming up- it seems that this work-in-progress figures to be a big part of the debate.

In fact, there’s a candidates’ forum coming up next month that could be a pretty interesting affair: the local Business Association secured a time at the Lovettsville Elementary School on the first Monday evening in April.

Incumbents for Mayor and Council Seats face challenges from those who (unsurprisingly) call for a change of the guard.

And the challengers are residents of that Town Center, interestingly enough.

So, I guess they may have some sort of moral equity or some such in speaking about the project.

And- the business association intelligently recruited local resident John Flannery to moderate the upcoming forum; John’s a local attorney in Leesburg (living just outside Lovettsville for the past several years) who’s been involved in the little Town’s affairs (dirt roads ‘n power lines, to name a few) during his tenure.

I can attest to his ability to make for pertinent, fair questioning.

The Rich just keep getting…

You know, with all the local budget talks going on, there’s some sort of reverse poetic justice in this one: Loudoun County’s been declared the richest in the land. That’s gotta raise some hackles among those in the have-not category; the gazillionaires are just laughing all the way to the bank, I guess.

But is does come as kind of a kick in the pants that Forbes Magazine reported that our median income is right around $110,000, at a time when we can’t afford teacher salary increases.

Heck, maybe some of these people could put ballfields on their expansive front lawns ‘n save the County a million or two here ‘n there.

You know- sort of pitch in- it all adds up.

Some advice though: remember those you passed on the ladder of success- you may re-encounter them on your descent.

So- to those in those upper-income categories- please help support the nobler of the local causes as you enjoy your success; many of the folks working two jobs to serve you those burgers ‘n clean your homes may be shopping for their kids’ clothes at a nearby thrift shop- and getting their Christmas cheer from the Holiday Coalition.

I’m jus’ sayin.’

Hey man, it’s Sunday morning when I write this stuff- I could come out with some real preachifyin’ if I wanted to.

This is nothin.’

And that’s all for today; I’d say we got off pretty easy. Thanks for being here. Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

March 25, 2010 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards

“The goal of science is to make sense of the diversity of nature.” John Barrow, New Theories of Everything, 2007.

“The basis for the definition of taxa has progressively shifted from the organismal to the cellular to the molecular level. Molecular comparisons show that life on this planet divides into three primary groupings, commonly known as the eubacteria, the archaebacteria, and the eukaryotes.” Carl Woese, et al., Towards a natural system of organisms: Proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya, Proc. Nati. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 87, pp. 4576-4579, June 1990, Evolution.

“Exploration of [Titan] is of high interest because much of the chemistry going on in the atmosphere and on the surface may give us insight into organic chemistry on the earliest Earth.” Jonathan Lunine, Earth, Evolution of a Habitable World, 2000.

Sustainable Loudoun launched the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards in 2007 using a donation from a local group. Since 2008, REHAU Corporation has financed the award and Mike Maher of REHAU and I have judged the student projects. In the last couple of years John Hunter of Lovettsville has been a third judge. Every year we have been impressed with the competence and creativity of the students. It has always been difficult to select winners from among so many deserving entries but a complete joy reviewing these projects with such promising and remarkable students. Last year we introduced an honorable mention category to acknowledge what we considered the best freshman entry.

There is an accidental or unintended theme to this year’s winning projects. Within the sustainability literature, description of opportunities for cooperation with nature as opposed to competition with nature, are plentiful. Life forms have been suggested for remediation of ocean dead zones, rebuilding damaged soils, processing sewage and generating biofuels and of course many more applications have been proposed. Many farms in Loudoun County use organic principles taking advantage of natural nitrogen fixers, dung beetles and worms and other natural composters. In order to take advantage of this technology it is necessary to understand the metabolism and evolution of critters. Our first place winner, Danyas Sarathy a Freedom High School freshman analyzed the database of cellular metabolism to construct a tree of life identical to the evolutionary tree constructed by Carl Woese, the discoverer of Archaeabacteria. Archaeabacteria are extremophiles. If life exists anywhere else in the solar system, Mars, Titan or Europa, it will need to be similar to these extremophiles. Our third place winner, Heather Quante, a Loudoun Valley High School Senior, analyzed the possibility of such organisms surviving on Saturn’s moon Titan. Our second place project is a team effort of Anita Alexander, Broad Run High School Senior and Hannah Arnold, Loudoun County High School Senior. They conducted some experiments on a possible practical application of our knowledge of organism metabolism using bacteria, Ralstonia eutropha, to produce plastic precursors.

Our honorable mention winner goes to Adithya Saikumar, a Briar Woods High School freshman. Adithya’s project demonstrates good research technique and we look forward to seeing what Adithya accomplishes next year.

Project abstracts:

First Place:

Comparative Metabolomics: Construction and Analysis of Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Metabolomes– Danyas Sarathy 1305F09 Freedom High School Freshman

Metabolomes are comprised of cellular metabolites which are small molecules of intermediary metabolism. Biological databases like KEGG, PubChem and Metacyc contain information on human, animal, plant and microbial genomes that have been sequenced and annotated. Also, information on the functions of gene products, particularly on the enzymes of all pathways of intermediary metabolism is also provided in these public domain databases. In this study, the reactions catalyzed by the pathway enzymes in terms of reactions involving substrate and product molecules were data mined. Extraction of these metabolites and compiling them for representative organisms allowed comparative analysis of metabolomes within and among the different groups. A defined set of metabolites were found to be present in all metabolomes which could be called the core metabolome, containing mostly the basic blocks of amino acids and nucleotides for Protein and DNA synthesis. A number of correlations indicated that heterotrophs in general possess wider metabolic capabilities than the autotrophes that is reflected in the size of the metabolomes. Furthermore, clustering analysis of these metabolomes using multi-variate statistical analysis package (MVSP) enabled the construction of a tree of life that displayed the discrete segregation of diverse organisms info groups of animal, plant, fungi, protest, bacteria and archaea. This metabolome-based tree of life is a novel and alternative approach to the classical phylogenetic construction of tree based on small subunit ribosomal RNAs of diverse organisms.

Second Place:

Waste Products as Growth Media for the Accumulation of PHAs – Anita Alexander, Broad Run High School and Hannah Arnold, Loudoun County High School.

Polyhydroxyalkanotes, or PHAs, are biodegradable thermoplastics produced by certain bacteria under stressed conditions. However, the production and extraction of this polymer is currently an expensive process. The goal of the research is to lower the cost and impact on the environment of the process by using waste products for the main carbon source. The specific objective of the research was to determine which of several waste products is most effective as the carbon source to be used in the fermentation medium. Ralstonia eutropha was grown in a nitrogen-limited fermentation medium containing an excess of carbon in the form of waste products, such as a dead leaf slurry and seeds. The growth of the cells was measured, and the polymer was subsequently extracted by first treating the bacteria with methanol, and then adding 30 mL acetone for 24 hours. Comparisons were made between the growth rates of bacteria in the different media, as well as between the dry weight of the extracted polymer. Slightly lower growth rates have been observed in those trials utilizing a waste product as a carbon source, as compared to the control group, however the final product is comparable and makes use of materials that would otherwise be thrown away. By reducing the overall cost of this process, the economic viability is increased, thus giving the product potential as an environmentally beneficial replacement for petroleum-based plastics.

Third Place:

Modeling Populations of Organisms on Titan – Heather Quante, Loudoun Valley High School.

Exploration of the solar system has yielded data on many different environments that may be hospitable to life, including Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Some organisms that live in extreme environments on Earth, called extremophiles, live in conditions such as extreme cold which are similar to those on Titan. The purpose of this project is to use mathematical modeling to ascertain whether organisms that had evolved characteristic similar to extremophiles would be able to survive in Titan’s environments. Last year, data from previous studies of extremophiles were collected to quantify growth rate under different environmental conditions, and specific data on Titan’s environments were gathered using Cassini-Huygens mission data. These two data collections were then used in Excel to create a logistic population model whose equation describes how extremophiles would be affected when subjected to an environmental condition, such as temperature. This year, the project was moved into the Mathematica program to create a logistics model that would simultaneously calculate the effects of changing temperature, pressure, and pH on the growth rate of the population. Additionally, the model was made more accurate by taking into account the population’s constantly changing effects on its environment. In the end, when Titan-like environmental conditions were chosen for the model, it could determine whether an extremophile population would grow and sustain itself or die out over time. The model’s final results predicted that possibilities for life on Titan’s surface are slim, but a small, slow-growing, stable population may survive in Titan’s underground ocean environment.

Signs of Spring

March 25, 2010 Columns Comments Off on Signs of Spring

I understand the basic idea of using eggs as a symbol for Easter. It makes a lot of sense it’s the eternal symbol of life, dormant, and then emerging. It has an almost visceral connotation, the message is clear. What I want to know is, who started decorating the eggs?
Who watched an egg pop out of the bottom end of a chicken and decided, “That. That is the perfect canvas upon which to make my artistic statement.”

Think of the awful traditions we could have been burdened by with this guy running the show. We might have really dodged a bullet there.

Then there is the whole idea of an Easter egg hunt. How is it supposed to work? The kids dye the eggs, then they hide them, or we hide them? They go and find them and then eat a ton of the hard boiled egg. The room fills with a distinct sulfur odor and we quickly usher the kids out of doors for some fresh air. This is after the basket of chocolate and other sundries has been torn open and, if you’re new to the game you have plastic grass strewn about your house. Pardon me, those of us with a little more experience might gloat a little. Just do yourself a favor and don’t tell me if you forgot where the plastic eggs were from last year and had to buy new ones. And anyone that had to buy a new basket? You should review the seasonal theme of renewal and get with the program.

Some Christians, fearful that candy and bunnies will overwhelm the message put nails in the plastic eggs to remind the kids about the nails driven into Jesus’ hands on the cross. This seems a tad twisted to me. If they’re so afraid of sugar coating the message, what happens when the kids become blase about their plastic egg Jesus nails? Do the nails get bigger and rustier, or tinged with blood to make the dramatic point?

But then kids can be overly sensitive. My daughter, ever the animal activist, was truly distraught when she saw a chocolate bunny in a cardboard cage. She has a real point. If your going to imagine that your lump of chocolate is a bunny, don’t you want to imagine it romping in the hills having a grand old time before you chomp his head off? How can you really get satisfaction from cutting his cocoa laden life short knowing he never truly lived?

Those of you not familiar with the Jewish tradition of the Passover meal or Seder are missing out on a real treat. You have to respect any program crazy enough to give the youngest child a speaking role and is also smart enough to make their questions tightly scripted. It’s easy to see why the Jewish faith has endured for so long, they’ve mastered the art of holding the attention of children. Hiding the afikoman? A prize to the child that finds it? Genius!

I might have paid attention during those long Catholic services if there had been a game like that in play. But there was never any mystery, besides the prescribed ones. Bitter herbs, salt water, I have no complaints with any of this. It’s nice to recline like a Roman on occasion. If I had one suggestion though, it would be to rename the fish. When you have four glasses of wine in you, Gefilte fish sounds an awful lot like, the filthy fish, and if that’s the case you can just keep it. Thanks all the same.

What ever your traditions are, celebrate them with a fierce abandon. Make sure to banish the Winter season, erase it from our collective memory so we can enjoy Spring and all the promise it brings. May your chocolate bunnies hop freely and your beans be all jelly.

The Loudoun Passion Play

March 22, 2010 Behind the Scenes Comments Off on The Loudoun Passion Play
Jesus Christ, played by Jonathan Kanary of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, with the disciples.  (Photo courtesy Waterford Video Productions)

Jesus Christ, played by Jonathan Kanary of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, with the disciples. (Photo courtesy Waterford Video Productions)

An Easter Story – A Celebration of Love

“Come see…then go quickly and tell” [Matthew 26:10].

A Passion Play is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Christ and the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It is a traditional part of Lent in a number of Christian denominations, particularly in Catholic tradition.

While living in Augsburg, Germany, I had the wonderful opportunity to witness the 1978 Special Edition Passion Play in Oberammergau. About half the 5,000 inhabitants of Oberammergau take part in this once-a-decade Passion Play. This means that over 2,000 villagers bring the story of Jesus of Nazareth to life for the audiences that flock to it from around the world. The play starts with Jesus entering Jerusalem, continues with His Death on the Cross and finishes with the Resurrection. This event is an extraordinary community enterprise. Many people who attended back in 1978 believed that they were witnessing the greatest story ever told and one of the greatest productions on earth.

The 2010 Loudoun Passion Play will be performed for the 24th time on its traditional day, Palm Sunday, March 28 at 3:00 p.m. Since 1987, more than 500 individuals and numerous churches, organizations and businesses from the community have participated as cast, crew and supporters of the Passion Play each year. This Passion Play celebrated annually in Purcellville, has evolved into a full historical reenactment. The play deals with the turbulent times surrounding the Roman occupation of Jerusalem at the beginning of the first millennium, over 2,000 years ago.

The Loudoun Passion Play is a joint project of many churches in western Loudoun County. The play reveals the story of Jesus’ last few days on earth – the powerful story of Good Friday and Easter. The play is presented outdoors in a re-created city of Jerusalem, with actors and audience moving together from scene to scene.

Staged outside to add realism to the play, actors in period costumes perform on stage and interact with the audience by bringing the play to them. Actors encourage audience participation as Jerusalem residents and visitors. Roman legionaries and aristocracy, religious leaders, rebels and common people all play a part in this story. Sets include a Roman palace, the Jerusalem temple, and everyday houses, as well as outdoor venues. The community actors reflect real excitement during the performance as they take on the challenge of striving to do his or her best – be it in the role of Jesus or a Roman soldier, a make-up artist or a music teacher, a seamstress or a stage-prop carpenter. The audience will share with the actors the sadness when the Passion Play is over and the Loudoun community has to wait another year for the next opportunity to participate. All are invited to attend this free event.

This year’s performance is the debut of the second variation of the traditional script. In last year’s performance, the story was told through the eyes of one of the servant girls who waited on Jesus and His disciples in the upper room. This year the story will be seen through the perspectives of 4 characters: Mary Magdalene, the woman who anointed Jesus’ head days before His death (Jesus anointed at Bethany [Mark 14:3]), Pontius Pilate and Thomas the disciple. Each of these individuals will share their thoughts and feelings as they participate in the passion of Christ. This year’s staging also includes new musical pieces.

The audience is asked to participate as visitors to Jerusalem during the week of Passover. They will walk with Jesus as He enters triumphantly into Jerusalem. Folks are encouraged to line the streets as Jesus carries His cross. Participants will stand on Golgotha as Jesus utters “It is finished.” Everyone will share in the joy of Jesus’ resurrection and appearance among His disciples.

The 2010 Passion Play will be staged in the area behind the new Purcellville Baptist Church at East A Street and Yaxley Drive, Purcellville. The play will go on, rain or shine. Please arrive a few minutes early to allow time for the walk from the parking areas to the performance area. Comfortable shoes are recommended for walking and in case the ground is damp.

For more information contact Peter Buck at 703-349-2005 or or Erica Wanis at Admission is free.

Some Mundane Thing

March 19, 2010 Columns Comments Off on Some Mundane Thing

We, I mean, I, was totally wrong about the need for mousetraps in the house. It’s a barbaric practice if you think about it. We, I mean, I can’t possibly sleep peacefully knowing our, I mean my, house is built on a foundation of pain and suffering. Also –

No she would never sound like that. That isn’t it at all.

Gosh, you’ve become so bossy since your incident.

Bill’s right. Argh me matey. We might be needing a mutiny.

I’m not really ready for those kinds of cracks right now.

You sure? You know Sally’s got some scraps of fabric. She could hook you up with a bandanna and ruffled shirt.

Can it.

All right. Lighten up.

Well how would you suggest we go about doing this thing?

You just need to go on about some mundane thing until you hit a level of absurdity, then you take a left turn and you’re there.

Fred, you’re being a little general. Could you give some specifics?

No, I can’t. I didn’t actually pay attention. Stuff like toothpaste mashed up on the edge of the sink, or the way toast is good when its warm, and not when it’s not.

You’re kidding me.


And people read this?

Well there’s no proof that they aren’t reading it.

So how would you suggest slipping in our subversive message?

Subtlety. Little by little. I think we might want to discourage people from sweeping. They probably have better things to do right?

How does this solve our problem?

Well, it doesn’t solve the problem, but it gives us more crumbs to choose from while we work on the problem. Also cats. You can’t say enough bad things about cats.

Where do I begin?

I know huh? It’s a subject ripe with material.

Bill, Could you please move?

What here? Go ahead.

No it’s like a button with a letter on it and I have to hit them in the right order to make the words and your tail is in the way.

No, you don’t have to do that Gerald is taking dictation.


Yeah he’s like a typing acrobat you should see him. It’s an art really. It’s a shame he doesn’t have much to say, or many opportunities to do this kind of work.

“What does it matter? It’s not like anyone reads this anyway.”

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.

Still Concerned

March 13, 2010 Dear Editor Comments Off on Still Concerned

I continue to be concerned by Town Planning Committee member Bill Druhan’s threats to and harassment of Hirst Farm residents. Mr. Druhan’s speech can be viewed on youtube ( I spoke to the Town Council at Tuesday night’s meeting, and stated my concerns. Mr. Druhan’s threats to Hirst Farm, include following a resident out of town and stating “life on Devonshire (Circle) is about to change”. He called residents “hypocrites,” “self-important,” and “blissfully ignorant.” This is not acceptable behavior from someone who is paid by tax money. It is neither impartial nor objective. It serves no purpose other than to instill fear.

I spoke to Mayor Lazaro after the meeting. The mayor will not apologize to Hirst Farm, he does not take the threats made by Mr. Druhan seriously. He refuses to remove Mr. Druhan. The mayor called Mr. Druhan’s tirade “freedom of speech.”

There is a difference between freedom of speech and harassment, as any child on a playground will tell you.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Druhan never speaks as a “regular” citizen of the town because he is a member of the planning committee. The man and the position are intertwined. His statements are the town’s statements. His bullying behavior that of the town’s. Professional Planning Organizations, such as the American Planning Association (APA) recognize this. The APA has over 8 pages stating ethical behavior of planners. This code of ethics include “planning issues … accentuate the necessity for the highest standards of fairness and honesty” and planners must “respect the rights of all persons and not improperly discriminate against or harass others.”

Councilman Wagner asked last night what positive suggestions citizens have for the Town Council. Adopt, maintain and enforce a Code of Conduct and Statement of Ethics for elected and appointed officials. Currently, there isn’t one.

I once received a written apology from a child who had bullied my own. Bravo, young man, you are responsible and brave. I can only hope the Town Elders will emulate you.

Theresa Rosette

The Trap of Struggle

March 11, 2010 Columns Comments Off on The Trap of Struggle

If there were no struggle to life it wouldn’t be any fun. If gravity didn’t fight against us our muscles would atrophy. We are designed to struggle. In a zen Buddhist meditative kind of way I think the struggle is good, because it reminds us that we’re alive. We should feel honored for the opportunity to be here and struggle. That being said, the fight of life can be a bit of a drag. It can wear on your patience. As with all things, moderation, you know?

So I’m going to surrender a few of my struggles here to focus on the battles I have a chance of winning.

To the mouse:

Look, I’m sorry. I know it was a sneaky trick. I didn’t mean to toy with your expectations. For the record I’m not a mean person. Though, when the jaws of death snapped on whatever appendage it did, I’m sure it seemed like it. I think I speak for myself, all mouse trap users, as well as the makers of the trap, when I say, you have exceeded all estimations of your will to live. When I try and picture you dragging the whole trap back down there behind the wall, you look a little like Rambo. I’m really amazed you could fit.
Dude. I’m impressed. But now what?

Did you go to your family and show them mankind’s handiwork in the hopes that they could free you, or to attend your own wake, fully conscious to die in the comfort of home? In the event that your brethren do free you from the trap I’d like to discourage you from building one large enough for me. It’s just going to be difficult for you in a logistical sense, scale being what it is. Also it might be hard deciding what to lay out as bait since my tastes are so mercurial and eccentric. I’ve heard you all behind the walls. I know you’re engaged in some heavy duty construction or destruction. It’s almost Spring just let go of the struggle and move on.

To the kids:
I know you’re siblings and there’s a universal law that you will always argue, especially in front of me. Lalalalalala! I can’t hear you. I’m going to give you lots of time to use your working it out skills while I jam my fingers in my ears. Tell me when it’s over.

To the laundry:
I know I’ll never win in the endless battle against your multitudes. I’m going to re-envision the battle though. I’m going to see the laundry as a tide that rises and falls. I am the laundry ninja with the waxing and waning of the bleaching and staining. Well that’s not exactly ninja-ish. Hmm. I’ll sneak up on my own procrastination skills and Wa Tah! The folding and sorting will be accomplished with a series of chopping motions and my cat like reflexes. The point is I’m not going to let it bother me anymore.

To the stinkbugs:
You’re so deceptive. The clumsy flying, the plodding aimless walk, like something prehistoric and stupid across my floor, up my coffee cup; you beg to be destroyed. But that’s the trick isn’t it? You’ll keep coming no matter how many we kill. We will go crazy catching and killing, and the bills will go unpaid, the work left undone, society will fall to ruin and you will win. I’m not going out like that. I’m going to surrender in the struggle against you individually so that I won’t succumb to your evil plot.

To the internet:
I’m not going to let it drive me crazy when I can’t access you. I’m going to view it as an opportunity to focus on the present, to tune into my environment. The times when I can log on will be a pleasant treat.

Like now. The kids are out of sight and most importantly out of earshot. The laundry is far away and this room seems free of the stinkbug invasion. I have a comfortable spot and internet access.. It’s a pleasant treat and I’m just going to relax and enjoy it.

What is that? My goodness, is that a pirate mouse? It’s so small it’s hard to see, but it looks like it has a peg leg. What is he doing? Is he signaling to someone behind me? What the –SNAP.

The History Club at Loudoun Valley

March 10, 2010 Schools Comments Off on The History Club at Loudoun Valley

On March 19 and 20 the History Club at Loudoun Valley will board the bus to travel back in time to 1859, the year of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Each year, the History Club holds its annual John Brown weekend, a time in which participants reenact John Brown’s infamous raid on Harpers Ferry.

John Brown was a white abolitionist from Kansas who led an armed slave revolt by raiding the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Twenty-one men, some white and some African American, participated in the raid, which is regarded by many modern day historians to be a catalyst of the Civil War. During John Brown Weekend, participants each take on the role of one of Brown’s raiders and are expected to know his background information based on documents that were provided to them by the History Club.

On Friday night, participants gather at Loudoun Valley and ride to nearby Morven Park to discuss the life of John Brown, his reasons for raiding Harpers Ferry, and gain a deeper understanding of slavery. Following this discussion, participants begin a tour of historic Harpers Ferry in order to gain an appreciation of the logistics and strategic planning that went into the raid before reenacting it. Students then go home for the evening and assemble at Valley the next morning to continue their tour.

On Saturday, participants continue to tour Harpers Ferry and the surrounding areas, such as Kennedy Farm, where John Brown and his men stayed prior to the raid. Participants also introduce their individual raiders and discuss their lives and why they decided to join Brown. At night fall, students are paired off to begin the reenactment. The bus drives the students to a location where they can sneak in along the toe path of the Shenandoah River. Spacing each pair out so they cannot see each other, everyone begins inching across the toe path, dodging whatever cars may be in sight. As participants walk across the bridge, they arrive at the arsenal, where a candle is lit to symbolize the life of their raider. Sitting in the dark arsenal, the story of each raider and their death is read aloud and their candle is symbolically blown out.

John Brown Weekend is a very unique experience for the few people that have the opportunity to attend. Participants will experience history in ways they never thought possible and, perhaps for the first time, really understand “the whoa effect” when they are sneaking in along the banks of the Shenandoah River, in a time warp, where everything seems to stand still.








2016 in the Books


(Presented to the Board of Supervisors February, 2017) “The last three years have demonstrated abundantly clearly that there is no change in the long-term trends since 1998. A prediction from 1997 merely continuing the linear trends would significantly under-predict the …

A Rainy Romance


By Samuel Moore-Sobel “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” – a simple phrase uttered in an acclaimed musical that helped birth a star. The movie’s Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) catches his attention so completely that Don Lockwood (Gene …

Concerned Parents


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, Our 15-year-old son is out of control and we don’t know what to do anymore. He smokes pot and drinks, disobeys us left and right, is truant from school often, comes home whenever he …

It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics


Beginners and billionaires alike should refresh their knowledge of these basic estate planning terms and concepts. The word “estate” tends to conjure up images of billionaires and aristocrats, but estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s widely believed …

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: George Marshall Center

George Marshall Center

I used to wonder why – after an assignment to visit the interior of this place, I’d return feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically worn out – as if I’d been carrying an extra couple hundred pounds or so …

Meeting the “Other America”


By Nicholas Reid Ever since the presidential election last November, there has been a lot of talk about the “two Americas”: coastal and continental America. The many differences between these two sections of the United States are numerous and oftentimes …

The Trump Effect


“Corals are marine magicians. As colonies of the tiny ocean organisms grow, they transform the calcium that circulates in seawater into enormous limestone reefs. These reefs—which can extend for more than 1,000 miles and provide homes for crabs, eels, sea …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016


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

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016


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

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016


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

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February 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017

Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

Yoga for Men
February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017





Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
February 5, 2017
February 6, 2017 February 7, 2017 February 8, 2017 February 9, 2017

Chair Yoga

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

Yoga for Men
February 10, 2017 February 11, 2017

Valentine's Pizza & Champagne

Valentine's Pizza & Champagne

Sweetheart’s Soirée- A Night of Dinner & Dancing

Sweetheart’s Soirée- A Night of Dinner & Dancing
February 12, 2017

Candlelight Concert Fundraiser

Candlelight Concert Fundraiser


February 13, 2017 February 14, 2017 February 15, 2017

Bob Brown Puppets: Dragon Feathers

Bob Brown Puppets: Dragon Feathers
February 16, 2017 February 17, 2017


February 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend



Comedy Night feat. Tyrone Davis

Comedy Night feat. Tyrone Davis
February 19, 2017
February 20, 2017 February 21, 2017 February 22, 2017 February 23, 2017 February 24, 2017

February Fourth Friday

February Fourth Friday
February 25, 2017

Samedi Gras Celebration

Samedi Gras Celebration
February 26, 2017
February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017


March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
March 5, 2017
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Steady and NoBull


LCSO Announces Project Emergency Response

22 Feb 2017


The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools, has developed a pilot program to assist emergency responders and individuals with Autism and their families to successfully manage emergency situations. The program, called Project Emergency Response, will allow family members and other caregivers to provide crucial information about their loved ones to first responders. The information will …

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Hillsboro Plans Mardi Gras Celebration on February 25

20 Feb 2017

nothing else main in hillsboro grey

Mardi Gras celebration will be held in Hillsboro on Saturday, February 25 as a benefit for the Old Stone Schoolhouse. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hurricanes and New Orleans drinks, as well as Old 690 beer and local wines will be served in the Garden District Bar. The Cajun Cafe will feature New Orleans cuisine, including King Cakes. …

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Four Young Historians Discuss Civil War Turning Points

2 Feb 2017


The Mosby Heritage Area Association will hold a talk featuring a panel of four young historians who will discuss turning points in the Civil War. The talk will be held at Unison Methodist Church, 21148 Unison Road, Middleburg, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 12. Tickets will be sold at the door or online at for $15 …

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Priscilla Nabs Plum Planning Commission Post

Loudoun County Seal Color

Appointment Shocks Many On January 3 Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) nominated Tom Priscilla for the Loudoun County Planning Commission to represent the Blue Ridge District. Priscilla was …


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


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

Metro Money Mess Pushing West


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

Dear Editor

Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved


Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue …

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception


We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm


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

Around Virginia

Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

Tia walbridge

Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

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Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

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Rep. Comstock’s Key Top Priority Legislation Initiatives


Signed into Law in Her First Term Rep. Barbara Comstock, who serves the 10th congressional district in Virginia, recently reviewed the achievements of her first term in office, identifying 17 legislative initiatives that she supported that were adopted. She said: “My staff and I have met with stakeholders, local elected …

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WLVBC U14 Boys Finish 3rd at VA Beach Event

23 Feb 2017


The Western Loudoun Volleyball Club’s U14 Boys Team garnered 3rd place in their first travel tournament of 2017, the Virginia Beach Invitational. This event was held Feb. 18-19 and featured more than 24 teams from the U14 to U18 age group. The team was second on their net on day …

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Woodgrove Gymnasts Advance To States

15 Feb 2017

gymnastics Snare

Two Woodgrove High School gymnasts have qualified to advance to the Virginia State Championships Saturday, February 18, at Patriot High School in Nokesville. Sophomore River Stone placed fourth in the all-around competition at the 1A-5A North Regional Gymnastics Championships at Park View High School on Wednesday, February 8, which earns …

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