Mayor Lazaro Comments at the June 8 Town Council Meeting

June 30, 2010 News Comments Off on Mayor Lazaro Comments at the June 8 Town Council Meeting

My First Night

June 30, 2010 Columns, Sushi's Corner Comments Off on My First Night

My dear friends – I have been remiss these last weeks in not sharing my “Tails” with you!

On June 19, Sally Fallon, of Weston A. Price and Nourishing Traditions, presented at our Fields of Athenry Farm. The event was a huge success! We estimate that over 260 of you came out to hear Sally talk about nutrition and the mental development of our children.

We would like to thank all of you that volunteered to help with parking, grilling, and wine tasting to name a few!

I was exhausted and full to the gills myself after cleaning up the grounds around the grill!

Now to some more “Tails” as I show you a brief glimpse into my younger life.

I had finally met my family….

Chapter 2: My First Hunt

Laino inquisitively eyed me. Looking at her Daddy, she said, “It looks just like a baby beaver. It looks so cute.”

Gently picking me up, Laino frightened me, but I frightened her more. Not knowing any better, I showed this strange creature my glaring white teeth and gave my most horrific growl! Laino was so scared she dropped me to the floor! I really wanted nothing to do with this enormous creature holding me. It was my born and bred duty to be as monstrous to her as she was to me. I quickly climbed back onto my bed in complete defiance and put on my best intimidation. Mrs. B. looked to Mr. B…. Mr. B. shrugged his shoulders. Mrs. B. picked me up. I growled again and bared my bright white teeth again. Mrs. B. grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and held me out in front of her. I was just a little pup, but I growled and snapped with all my might. Tiki safely stayed put in Bernie’s arms, staring at my odd behavior.

“What are you staring at, little sample dog?” I asked Tiki.

“Why are you behaving like that?” Tiki asked back.

“I am a mighty Cairn Terrier, and it is my born and bred duty to attack any fox I may face in my life.”

“Well now, little man, those are not foxes you are attacking. They happen to be your new family.”

I looked suspiciously at the small Chihuahua sitting in the little girl’s arms. Mrs. B. did not let go of the back of my neck until I had settled down. Still not letting go, she handed me over to Laino. I wiggled defiantly. Laino looked at Mrs. B., not quite sure if I was really the dog of her dreams.

Mrs. B. encouraged her, saying, “Now Laino, it is this little dog’s nature to be bold and mighty. If you don’t get control of him now, while he is small, you never will. Stand up straight, young lady. Look him in the eye. Mean business. Get him by the neck right here and hold him out in front, away from your face. Growl at him like you mean it!”

I tried to hold my own, growling and snapping, baring my brillant white teeth and being as vicious as possible, but, that little girl really held her own ground. Next thing I knew, this Laino creature said to me, “I think I will call you Sushi. Yes, that’s it, Sushi indeed!”

Mr. and Mrs. B. were quite pleased. The grandfather clock struck midnight. Laino gave me a big sloppy kiss and tucked me into my bed. Bernie carefully carried Tiki up into their bed, where the two of them, with Laino, fell fast asleep. I was left to fend for myself in this new place. I guess my behavior hadn’t gone over very well. I curled up into a little ball and growled myself to sleep, all alone.

Well now – there are more “Tails” to come and I love sharing them with you – so until next week…. Forever yours,


Blue Ridge Leader News – June 27, 2010

June 30, 2010 Loudoun County, News Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News – June 27, 2010

Careful Where You Point that Thing

I imagine by now that you’ve heard about the sentencing of one of the participants in a somewhat recent local drive-by shooting. What struck me about the story was not the 12-year plus penalty for the guilty individual- Jose Enrique Gordillo Portocarrero- or the fact that he was found to have dropped off a couple of fellow MS-13 members so they could fire upon their victims that night- or even the simple fact that it happened on a September evening along a local street in Sterling Park.

What really impressed me about the whole thing was the level of fear and hatred the story set off in the strings of commentators on our local newspaper web pages.

Makes me wonder why we don’t have more murder and mayhem than we actually do these days.

If I’m reincarnated after I pass on, I certainly hope I don’t come back as one of these commentator’s dogs- man.

Thanks to Providence, the injured couple from that Sterling Park shooting did recover from their wounds, and the cooperative work from the courts and the Regional Gang Task Force at least put this participant behind bars for a long time.

You know, if some of these web commentators really want to leave a positive influence on this world, how about volunteering some time among the many youth organizations across the land?

If you get one kid to believe in him- or her-self and pursue their dreams, you might be steering them away from other, more destructive behavior.

Now I’m commenting.

Quite a Hat Trick

Well, here’s one folks will have no opinion about whatsoever: yeah, right. I guess most of us will go along with the notion that the good news is that School Superintendent Ed Hatrick didn’t get a raise this year- nor last year or the year before; on the other hand, he makes over $230K a year, so I don’t think we need to start up a collection any time soon on his behalf.

This decision by the School Board keeps Skip on the same level- in a matter of speaking- with other school employees- keeping salaries frozen and losing two pay days to furlough in the upcoming academic year.

Anyway, I imagine that most of us are just a little bit jealous of ol’ Skippy and his quarter-million-dollar a year pay.

That’s more than I make, if you’ll believe that.

But, from what I’ve seen, I always thought Doc Hatrick did a pretty remarkable job; that’s just my humble opinion- from having observed his actions and remarks over the past 13 years or so.

If someone else has a more informed opinion in variance with mine, so be it.

I figure he’s entitled to the little bit of my annual taxes that the County carves out for him every year.

We’ll miss him when he’s gone.

The Bulldozer’s Mightier than the Dais

And, we understand that one of our local Supervisors made a boo-boo in the series of votes on the recent Countywide Transportation Plan passage. Sally Kurtz of Catoctin reportedly discovered after the fact that her support for widening Belmont Ridge Road would actually expand that section to six lanes instead of four.

Her vote on the nay side would have defeated the measure.

Oh, well. It’s just money.

And, speaking of that subject, do you really think the County will ever find the scratch to widen Belmont Ridge Road to six lanes between Route Seven and Croson Lane?

Well, maybe they will.

And something tells me that they’ll have to decide all over again if they really want to implement that portion of the Plan.

They’ve got some time to figure it out.

Lost and Found

We have another resolution in one of those ‘missing person’ cases. Remember when we announced that police were interested in the whereabouts and welfare of one Douglas Hatch of Leesburg?

Well, he’s evidently been found- safe and sound- but that’s about all we know.

He’d been reported missing since the 4th of this month, after having been dropped off by his girlfriend at a Leesburg park and ride- ostensibly heading into DC for a job interview.

Well, he never showed up at that appointment and didn’t return, so the alarm was raised.

Police finally located him this past Thursday in DC.

He’s 23 years old and no crime was committed in the entire affair, so that’s the end of the road as far as public interest is concerned.

I guess you can make up your own version of just what went on between that park and ride drop off and his turning up- 20 days later- in DC.

The Chrysler Twilight Zone

These are strange times, indeed for the auto industry- particularly for those associated with the once-mighty American vehicle manufacture and/or sales business. Preamble aside, I guess one dealership’s loss is another’s gain, by the initial look of it; we hear that Dulles Motorcars scored a Chrysler Dealership and plans to start showing models in the conveniently (and ironically) empty former Pohanka Chrysler Dodge showroom location in Leesburg.

Wasn’t too long ago they were exhibiting their own wheels at the spot off Catoctin Circle.

Dulles intends to keep its Subaru and Kia sales going just down the street as well.

And we understand this latest deal with Chrysler went on the rocks for awhile- probably no surprise in the recent roller-coaster car sales saga.

But, what I’m wondering, is: why did Chrysler allow Pohanka to close down, only to have another dealership start up sales- in the same- exact- location?!

Now, I like the Dulles Motorcars folks- I bought both my Subarus from them and swear by those machines.

But this must leave a strange taste in the mouths of those formerly associated with the Pohanka Chrysler Dodge business.

I guess, in this day of nonsensical occurrences becoming the commonplace in American Economics, this now stands as par for the course.

Just Don’t Drink and Drive

Now, I actually feel a sense of guilt in ‘penning’ this story under the subject of news: if you haven’t already heard that the Commonwealth of Virginia has little or no money to spend on road repair and construction, you may as well pull the plug, because the oxygen just ain’t getting up to the brain cells. The Post had an article just yesterday that listed a figure of about $1,000 slated for secondary road improvements for Loudoun County for the next year.

How many potholes would that fix, about a half-dozen?

And how many miles of secondary roads do we have in Loudoun?


And, remember, secondary roads includes stretches like Belmont Ridge Road of our earlier Sally Kurtz story- a busy thoroughfare in the eastern part of the County.

And some of our Supervisors are upset by the fact that the state may have no more to offer little old Loudoun in the way of Road money.

You tell ’em, County Board Members.

I’m sure Richmond just trembles when you speak.

I wish they did, believe me.

Well, the good news part of the story is that the Commonwealth is in the throes of privatizing the liquor sales industry in Virginia- which could end up precipitating up to $500 million dollars toward the highway industry- and, if that happens- drink up is all I can say.

Tim Jon- American Hero?

And, no, I’m not doing anything exciting for this year’s Fourth of July. That’s not to say I’ll be idle or immersed in anything unremarkable.

I derive all the activity and excitement a person could ask for in my daily job- six full days a week, I might add.

So I don’t really need to travel or see any fireworks.

I get all of that during the rest of the year.

No- for the Fourth of July for 2010, I plan to load my smoker-grill full of some kind of feathered friends- most likely chicken- or Cornish game hens, if I can find the right price.

The night before, I coat the birds with dry rub- a concoction of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, ginger and a bunch of other spicy ingredients to make the mouth water.

I also soak some wood chips overnight- and make sure the charcoal’s stocked and the grill’s otherwise ready to go.

Then, bright and early, light the coals, fill the drip pan (the humidity keeps the meat moist), oil the grill grates, and tenderly place the meat on the grill.

Add the wood to the coals, and then- nothing!

Maybe watch a formula 1 race.

Or sleep for a few hours.

Just leave the whole thing alone for at least 3 hours- at which point I check for doneness, and maybe turn the birds and add more coals ‘n soaked wood chips.

Another three hours, and viola!

A meal fit for a king.

Or an Independent American.

Now, that’s cause to celebrate.

Here’s to you, USA.

Who said I can’t create some fireworks?

Thanks for celebrating with me, and have a great, safe, wonderful Fourth of July!

Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader

Oatlands After Five Presents Summer Garden Wine Tasting

June 30, 2010 Business, Dine With Us Comments Off on Oatlands After Five Presents Summer Garden Wine Tasting

Oatlands is a 360 acre self-supporting National Trust Historic Site. The site features a stunning landscape with magnificent gardens, 1804 mansion and the second oldest greenhouse in the nation. Oatlands’ summer garden wine tasting is a unique wine pairing experience that takes place in the gardens at Oatlands. The summer garden wine tasting, which will be held July 18 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., is part of the new evening event series, “Oatlands After Five,” that gives patrons access to Oatlands on select evenings. Award-winning sommelier Mary Watson-DeLauder will lead groups of 20 on a walk through Oatlans’ herb garden. She will describe how the flavors in each herb can impact the flavors of the wines offered for tasting. In addition, hors’doeuvres will be served and additional wine will be sold by the glass by Corcoran Vineyards under a tent on the mansion lawn.

Village at Leesburg To Host Block Party to Benefit Habitat for Humanity

June 30, 2010 Loudoun County, News Comments Off on Village at Leesburg To Host Block Party to Benefit Habitat for Humanity

Village at Leesburg will celebrate its retail grand opening with a Summer Block Party benefitting Loudoun Habitat for Humanity, Saturday, July 17, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Kicking off with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd, the festivities will include free live entertainment and fun activities for all ages.

“The Summer Block Party will be a great Saturday night out, where the whole family can enjoy music, food and fun, while getting to meet our merchants and supporting Loudoun Habitat for Humanity – a wonderful and worthwhile organization right in our own community,” said John Fainter, vice president of development for the project.

Fifteen of the project’s 22 retail stores will be open by the Summer Block Party: many will offer special discounts and have outdoor booths/tables with prizes and activities throughout the evening (see attached list). Additional free family entertainment will include balloon sculpting, airbrush art, face painting and caricatures.

Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the evening’s musical performances. The “opening act” from 6:00 to 7:30 will be “emmet swimming,” which is recognizably one of the most successful national touring bands to hail from Virginia. Originating from Fairfax, the band has received 14 Washington Area Music Association Awards (WAMMIES) including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. Their music has aired in numerous films and on such TV programs as: All My Children, ESPN, Monday Night Football, MTV, the Olympics and VH-1.

“Headliner” Elliott Yamin will take the stage from 7:30 to 9:00. A Richmond native, Yamin became one of the best-loved American Idol contestants. His consummate interpretive gifts prompted Simon Cowell to describe his performance practice as a “vocal master class.” Next, his self-titled debut entered as the highest independent debut by a new artist in Billboard chart history – at #3 on the Top 200. His single, “Wait for You,” was a Top 5, platinum-certified smash. Fight for Love, his latest installment, shows his maturity and growth as a vocalist and a writer.

Adding to the fun, Wegmans will have an “American Classics” booth with such offerings as malts, shakes, hot dogs and sliders, while Faang Thai Restaurant and Bar will serve Asian specialties. Adults 21 and over also can quench their thirst at the event’s beer garden. Proceeds from the evening’s food and beverage sales will benefit Loudoun Habitat for Humanity.

“Loudoun Habitat for Humanity is honored to have been chosen as the designated charity for this event,” said Pamela McGraw, president of Loudoun Habitat for Humanity. “While Loudoun is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, the need for affordable housing is acute here and the monies derived from this event will go directly towards assisting in building homes for our partner families.”

Village at Leesburg is a 1.2-million-square-foot, mixed-use project located near the intersection of VA Route 7 and Crosstrail Blvd. Upon final build-out, it will feature approximately 520,000 square feet of retail space, combined with 150,000 square feet of office product and 335 luxury multi-family residences. For more information, visit

What Summer Vacation?

June 30, 2010 Schools Comments Off on What Summer Vacation?

School is finally over. It’s time for the lazy, care-free days of summer to begin. Or is it? Many high school students will spend their summers trying to complete various summer assignments for AP courses and trying to better prepare themselves for college. We might as well just continue going to school!

The last day of school was June 18 and in the few days I have been out, I have spent the majority of my time beginning to brain storm my college application essays. Since I am a rising senior, I am downloading applications, and preparing for my interview at the College of William and Mary. I know that if I do not accomplish these things now, I will be behind when I go back to school in the fall, especially because I will be unable to work on things for three weeks when I am on a mission trip in China.

While not all rising seniors are spending their summer working on college applications, and not all students take AP classes, a good number do and for them, time management is crucial. The school schedule plays a factor as well. Due to Kings Dominion law, county school boards are unable to decide when their school year should start. By legislative edict, classes must begin after Labor Day. This is because the tourism industry wanted older students to be available to work at places such as King’s Dominion, because teenage labor is vital to the economic success of the park, as it is inexpensive to hire teens and their assistance is readily available. Because of Kings Dominion Law, Loudoun County Public Schools are starting later than the majority of the United States, and thus they have less time to prepare for the AP Exams and other standardized tests that are administered as early as May.

Since school is starting later, AP teachers do not have as much time to cover the material that will be on the AP Exam. For this reason, students are often expected to complete a summer assignment to jump start the school year. For example, AP English Literature students are expected to annotate Lady Windermere’s Fan and keep a dialectical journal for Jane Eyre. AP U.S. History students have to read Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer and write an analytical essay based on their readings. While not every AP class has a summer assignment, the majority do. Students taking multiple AP classes certainly have their work cut out for them.

Clearly, students have their work cut out for them this summer, especially if they are trying to squeeze in vacations, college visits, and volunteer work. For many, summer may not turn out to be a break after all.


June 24, 2010 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Proterozoic

“Even if expense were no object, none of these [biosphere] services could be performed at such scales and with such efficacy by any anthropogenic means. Our dependence on biosphere services is literally a matter of survival, and that’s why the integrity of the biosphere matters.” Vaclav Smil.

“[T]he accumulation of atmospheric oxygen paved the way for significant leaps in biological evolution in the Paleoproterozoic with the rise of macroscopic oxygen-breathing organisms and in the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian with the emergence of animals.” Dominic Papineau

When economists try to put a value on the biosphere, they are kidding themselves and us. As Vaclav Smil points out without a healthy biosphere, humans cannot survive [1]. Our dependence is existential. Nor is this dependence limited to the current biosphere. We owe our existence to the biosphere extending back through deep time.

The Earth is 4.55 billion years old and its history is divided into four eons. The earliest the Hadean Eon ended 3800 million years ago. The Hadean Earth was dominated by the kinetic energy of constant collisions as it swept up debris scattered along its orbit in the young solar system. A magma ocean bubbled on its surface, a frightening uninhabitable place. The Archean Eon lasted from 3800 million years ago until 2500 million years ago. The Archean Earth climate was temperate despite the faint young sun we’ve discussed in a previous article [2]. James Kasting proposed that it was moderated by carbon dioxide and the methane produced by methanogenic Archaea [3]. These methane-producing microorganisms kept the Earth from freezing solid, while the sun’s fusion reactor gradually intensified through the Archean, giving the rest of life a chance.

The Proterozoic Eon began where the Archean left off and ran until the Cambrian Explosion 544 million years ago, the start of the present Eon, the Phanerozic. But we are interested today in two remarkably similar events which bookend the Proterozoic. These events have in common the breakup of a supercontinent, several snowball Earth episodes, where the Earth’s oceans may have frozen to the equator, interspersed between hothouse climates, a rise in atmospheric oxygen and a leap in biological evolution as described by Papineau [4].

As the Archean Eon gave way to the Paleoproterozoic nickel isotope sedimentary deposits suggest that the productivity of the methanogens were winding down [5]. Methanogens use nickel in their metabolism to produce the atmospheric methane which along with the principle greenhouse gas carbon dioxide was keeping the Earth warm. At the same time the supercontinent Kenorland was breaking up. Rifting of supercontinents is accompanied by increased weathering of the newly exposed surfaces. When the most recent supercontinent Pangaea broke up 200 million years ago the rift valley forming between South America and Africa became the Atlantic Ocean which is still spreading. The rifting of the supercontinent Rodinia during the Neoproterozoic, about 700 million years ago gave rise to the Iapetus Ocean.

Increased weathering released phosphorus into the seas. Phosphorus is the most limiting element in the biosphere presently, as discussed by Dave Vaccari in a recent Sustainable Planet article [6, see also 4 and 11]. Even today plants concentrate phosphorus and can contain up to seven times the concentrations in the surrounding soils. At the same time methanogens were becoming less productive at the end of the Archean, ancestors to present day cyanobacteria bloomed as a consequence of increased phosphorus which these microbes need for oxygen photosynthesis. From Susan Gaines remarkable textbook on molecular fossils Echoes of Life [7] and from Plaxco and Gross’ Astrobiology [8] text book we learn that these bacteria may have been around for several hundred million years waiting for this opportunity.

Oxygen photosynthesis increased the level of atmospheric oxygen after the breakup of Kenorland from essentially zero to about two percent of the atmosphere. Oxygen is poisonous to methanogens so this turn of events created the opportunity for an entirely new biological regime. But it also drew down the atmospheric carbon dioxide. As a consequence of the loss of methane and carbon dioxide the Earth froze over. Since the ice and snow which now blanketed the planet reflects most incoming short wave solar radiation rather than absorbing it, there is no known way which the Earth could have recovered except for volcanic activity and the release of carbon dioxide. Enough carbon dioxide accumulated in the atmosphere over millions of years to melt back the ice and snow by trapping long wave heat radiation from the Earth surface. Once the ice melted away completely, the huge quantity of carbon dioxide necessary to melt it in the first place now created a superheated greenhouse effect. The subsequent increased weathering of silicate rocks [9] and additional bacterial blooms kick started the process all over again, drawing down the carbon dioxide leading to yet another snowball earth episode. Each cycle may have pumped more oxygen into the atmosphere.

Essentially two chemical reactions take place which draw down carbon dioxide in a hot house climate. The first is inorganic and involves the weathering of silicate rocks. This is the Earth’s thermostat [9] and is given by the following simplified equation.

CO2 + CaSiO3 -> CaCO3 + SiO2

In a hot house climate more water evaporates off the oceans and forms carbonic acid with the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This weak acid rains out onto rocks weathering them. Note that in this equation carbon dioxide is drawn down when the calcium carbonate and silica are “buried in marine sediments and eventually into the geological record [9].” This process extracts excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but does not create free oxygen.

However, oxygenic photosynthesis performed by the bacterial blooms, encouraged by the newly releases phosphorus performs the following reaction.

CO2 + H2O -> CH2O + O2

When organic compounds, here represented by CH2O, are buried as sediment without being oxidized and consumed by other organisms there is a net draw down of carbon dioxide and atmospheric oxygen is created. Note that while rock weathering can act as the Earth’s thermostat by controlling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it cannot create atmospheric oxygen. We need life for that. The free oxygen created an opportunity for heterotrophic bacteria and eukaryotes to exploit and they did. It also relegated methanogens, the heroes of the Archean, to anoxic hideouts such as deep ocean sediment, swamps and cow stomachs.

The Neoproterozic rifting resulting in the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia about 750 million years ago had the same effect. This rifting forming the Iapetus Ocean is recorded in the geological record of Loudoun County [10]. The sun was much warmer now, about 94 percent of today’s sun and the Earth was kept warm by its blanket of carbon dioxide. With the breakup of Rodinia, the events of the Paleoproterozic were repeated. Increased weathering of the continents increased burial of both inorganic and organic carbon with a subsequent rise in atmospheric oxygen, this time from about two percent to 20 percent of the atmosphere. Again the Earth’s climate oscillated between a snowball and a hothouse several times between 750 and 580 million years ago [4]. While Eukaryotes were certainly already around, it was this rise in oxygen, due to photosynthesis, which allowed the evolution and radiation of metazoans; complex life.

So we are alive today, not just because of the other inhabitants of our biosphere, the Earth’s environment but we also owe a debt of gratitude to the biospheres in Earth’s past.

Tony Noerpel

[1] Vaclav Smil, Global Catastrophes and Trends, the next fifty years, 2008


[3] Kastings, J., “When Methane made Climate”, Scientific American, 2004.

[4] Papineau, D., “Global Biogeochemical Changes at Both Ends of the Proterozoic: Insights from Phosphorites,” Astrobiology, Vol 10, Number2, 2010.

[5] Konhauser, O., et al. “Ocean nickel depletion and a methaogen famine before the Great Oxidation Event,” Nature vol 458, April 9, 2009.


[7] Gaines, S., Eglinton, G. and J. Rullkotter, Echoes of Life, Oxford, 2009.

[8] Plaxco, K., and Gross, M., Astrobiology, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

[9] Berner, R., The Phanerozic Carbon Cycle, Oxford University Press, 2004.

[10] Southworth, S. et al. Geologic map of Loudoun County, Virginia, U.S. Department of the Interior, to accompany map OF-99-150 U. S. Geological Survey.

[11] Filippelli, G., “The global phosphorus cycle: past, present and future,” Elements, Vol. 4, pp 97-104

A Note from Supervisor Burton

June 23, 2010 Loudoun County, News Comments Off on A Note from Supervisor Burton

Dear Neighbors,

Last Tuesday’s Board meeting was an extremely frustrating one. By the end of the day, it was sometimes hard to believe I was sitting on the dais with seven Supervisors who, in their campaigns, had promised to support the sentiments expressed by the citizen anthem, “Stand By Your Plan.”

While I do not remember the exact words, I do remember the song’s insistence that the General Plan should serve the County’s residents, not external special interests. I also remember its emphasis that the County’s Plan – developed during two years of research, analysis, and often heated public debate – should not be amended or replaced without undertaking a similar level of comprehensive research, analysis, and debate. Unfortunately, this Board is taking a number of actions which essentially amend the Plan. And, while research, analysis, and public debate has occurred prior to each of these decisions separately, I do not believe this is occurring in the comprehensive and thorough manner that our Plan and our residents deserve. Were that to occur, I believe my colleagues would consider many of their votes in a brand new light. I would like to highlight two votes in particular: the Open Space Tax Deferral Program and the Kincora Rezoning.

Open Space Tax Deferral Program

As I noted in my alert last week, the Finance Committee voted 3-1 to forward to the June 15 Board meeting without recommendation a proposal to increase the minimum acreage requirement for the open space category from five acres to 20 acres. (This proposal will, in effect, increase the property tax paid on 352 parcels in Western Loudoun by an average of 25 percent.) An earlier vote to forward it with a recommendation for approval failed 2-2. Chairman York and I both opposed the first motion. I supported the second motion in order to move the discussion to the full Board. Several residents responded to my alert asking why I did not kill the motion in Committee.

Unfortunately, the Board’s Rules of Order do not allow such an outcome. First, items sent by the Board to a Committee (as occurred here) with a request for review and recommendation must ultimately be returned to the Board. Unlike in the General Assembly, they cannot simply die in Committee. As the Committee Chair, I was able to keep the discussion in the Committee for several months, but my suburban colleagues were getting increasingly testy about moving the item back to the full Board.

At Tuesday’s Board meeting the Board supported, 5-4, a motion by Supervisor Delgaudio that the minimum qualifying acreage for the Open Space category of the Land Use Program for properties qualifying for a deferral based on their inclusion in an Agricultural and Forestal District be increased from five to 20 acres. Supervisors Delgaudio, Waters, Burk, Buckley, and McGimsey voted yes; Chairman York, Supervisors Kurtz and Miller, and I voted no.

Those who voted Yes cited several reasons – none of which I consider particularly valid.

1) The primary reason for the deferral is to discourage landowners from subdividing their properties. With the zoning changes to the Rural Policy Area in 2006, those with less than 20 acres can no longer subdivide their property. Thus, there is no longer any reason to offer them such an incentive.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out to my colleagues on Tuesday, the underlying facts do not support that logic. Landowners whose parcels are less than 20 acres can subdivide their property by aggregating several smaller parcels in a single subdivision application to meet the 20-acre threshold. A boundary line adjustment is unnecessary. Ownership is irrelevant. Separate landowners can cluster their properties as a single subdivision application. The Board’s action would, in effect, create a significant incentive for a new Western “land rush.” Certainly, this is not the outcome that Loudoun citizens had in mind during the Western zoning debate in 2005 and 2006. Their goal, as I understood it, was to protect low-density zoning in Western Loudoun, recognizing the myriad fiscal consequences of higher density development without appropriate infrastructure.

2) Western landowners who receive tax deferrals are not paying their “full freight” as taxpayers. The deferral is therefore unfair to suburban landowners who do not get a similar deferral.

This argument would be laughable if it did not seem to carry such weight with the Suburban Supervisors. First, it demonstrates no understanding that this is a tax deferral, not a tax exemption. A landowner who subdivides the property must pay roll-back taxes. Second, it does not recognize that the landowner pays the full tax rate on the house and one-acre of land around the house; the deferral is only on property in excess of that amount. Third, it ignores research that agricultural land, even land in land use tax deferral programs, generates a substantial subsidy, when revenue received is compared to service demands. Research undertaken or collected by the American Farmland Trustfrom across the country demonstrates that the median cost to provide services per dollar of tax revenue raised is $0.37 for Agricultural uses (both working and open land) and $1.19 for Residential uses. (New data from Frederick County (VA) puts the cost of each new residence at $2 – a $0.75 increase over earlier studies.) To put it another way, agricultural and open space uses produce a tax surplus of $0.63 for every dollar raised, while residential uses produce a $0.19 deficit. It is that subsidy, which helps to keep suburban landowners taxes from skyrocketing even higher.

Far from not paying our “full freight,” Western landowners are carrying an additional tax burden for the higher service demands and new infrastructure requirements of suburban residents. One need only look at the difference in budgets and tax liabilities between rural and urban/suburban counties. The issue is not land use tax deferrals, but service demands. If we really wanted to ensure that everyone paid “full freight” (assuming that the General Assembly miraculously provided appropriate enabling legislation), taxes would be a function of service usage rather than property values. Such an approach would place a greater burden on those with large numbers of children, on the poor, on the unlucky. It might not always be reasonable, but it would certainly ensure tax “equitability” and “fairness.”

3) The County, particularly, Eastern Loudoun residents, receives no tax benefits from the vacant land and open space.

This argument is even more ludicrous and even less founded in fact than the prior argument.

· It completely ignores the fact that the County receives real property tax revenue from all landowners in land use.
· It ignores the point, previously raised, that working farms and open land typically produce a surplus of tax revenue versus service costs.
· It ignores the tourism value of rolling fields and forested groves along scenic by-ways for B&B’s, wineries, and other rural businesses.
· It ignores the County’s own survey data that places the rural landscape of Western Loudoun as one of the things Loudoun residents (both East and West) and Loudoun businesses (again, both East and West) value about the County.

4) Too many landowners are abusing the system, receiving tax deferrals for what are essentially large suburban lawns.

There have been, and continue to be, abuses. However, the Agricultural District Advisory Committee has worked very hard during the last three months to develop a process to prevent future abuses. I believe the Board should allow the Committee to demonstrate whether their new process will succeed at weeding out system abusers before refusing entry to landowners simply on the basis of acreage.

As the change requires amendments to the County’s ordinances, the Board must hold a Public Hearing on the measure before any final action is taken. This will occur on September 13, 2010. I would certainly urge everyone in Western Loudoun, both those directly impacted by the potential loss of the deferral and those indirectly impacted by subdivision pressure, to contact my colleagues on the Board.

Come the final debate, I intend to make the following three points:

1. A majority of this Board’s members pledged to restrain residential growth and to “Stand by Our Plan.” This action is incompatible with that pledge.
2. Small landowners do have a means to subdivide their land despite minimum acreage requirements. Barring them from the tax deferral program sends a message that the Board prefers the red-ink of development to the black ink of open space.
3. There are significant infrastructure and operating costs associated with such development, which will increase the upwards pressure on all residents’ tax bills. As a result, this will have the opposite effect from that intended by its supporters: it will not lower the tax bills of suburban residents. It will, however, help to eliminate one of the quality of life assets most valued by those residents.

Kincora Rezoning

As many of you are aware, this is a rezoning application to build a mixed-use project consisting of 1,400 residential units, stores, and offices on land zoned for keynote employment / premier office, in short the land area that the County has reserved for the next Raytheon or AOL. At last Tuesday’s Board meeting we agreed (for wildly varying reasons) to schedule a Special Meeting on July 12, 2010 (prior to the regularly scheduled Public Hearing) for a final vote on the application.

There are so many things wrong with this application it is hard to know where to begin. Yet, it seems increasingly likely that a majority of my colleagues on the Board will vote to approve this significant change in land use for reasons even less valid than those offered by the last Board. As Steve Snow reminded the public again and again, the last Board, at least, negotiated (often successfully) to ensure that road improvements occurred “up front.”

Almost every single member of this Board, either as elected officials or citizen activists, responded to Mr. Snow and those of like mind by noting that you cannot grow your way out of growth – i.e., you cannot solve current traffic congestion created by past growth by trading increased residential density for road construction. This was the argument citizen after citizen made to the Board in defense of the lower densities called for by the County’s Comprehensive Plan. I find it mind-boggling, therefore, that a majority of this Board seems prepared to follow the failed strategy against which they once vehemently argued.

Proponents of this project provide three rationales to justify their support:

1. There is no market for traditional office settings; businesses now demand mixed-use, Reston Town Center-style situations. This is what the County’s Consultants told us; they are the “experts” and we should listen to them.

In June 2009, the County hired Fulton Research, Inc. to provide “limited assistance…to assess the economic development potential under current zoning and planned land use” for the Route 28 corridor. The County’s Request for Quotation described the assistance as “a six-week market analysis that focuses on the portion of the Route 28 corridor where Class A office is planned.” After significant revisions by County Staff, Fulton Research submitted its final report, titled Route 28 Corridor Analysis of Development Potential for Class A Office Space, on August 27, 2009. As defined by the Consultant in their response to the RFQ, “The essence of the study is to identify the market potential (i.e. demand) for Class A office space in the Route 28 North corridor study area. This will be done in the context of the region and the County through an examination of employment forecasts and the existing and planned land uses.” All of these documents are posted on-line.

The report did indeed recommend that the County permit high-density residential in mixed-use developments within the Route 28 Tax District and other areas zoned for Keynote Employment. I would argue that the facts do not support this premise and that the research performed by Fulton failed to take significant and pertinent information into consideration while developing their report.

First, the 2005 decision by the Department of Defense to shift thousands of workers out of mixed-use settings in Arlington to more secure settings indicates that one of the region’s largest employers has no interest in town centers. In my experience at the Pentagon, where DOD goes, the contractors follow regardless of what the office situation in the new location may be. When I asked the consultants whether their study incorporated the BRAC force protection standards that resulted in the loss of up to 40,000 DOD and associated jobs from the mixed-use, transit-oriented developments of Rosslyn and Crystal City, the consultants responded that they had not. I cannot take seriously a study that purports to “identify the market potential (i.e. demand) for Class A office space… done in the context of the region and the County” and which does not evaluate the office space requirements of one of the region’s largest employers.

Similar gaps between conclusions drawn and research undertaken are found throughout the report. For example, the report states, “Today’s Class A office tenant requires a high quality building in a high quality setting. The preferred office settings are generally pedestrian-oriented, mixed use environments.” Yet the only data the consultants offer to support that premise is the differential in vacancy and rental rates between Reston Town Center and all of Reston. The consultants’ list of factors considered by companies when selecting an office location includes factors found in mixed-use developments (access to and quality of amenities, good mobility in and around the office neighborhood, proximity to employee and corporate housing), but not necessarily exclusive to such developments. The list also includes such factors as proximity to client(s), accessibility from a variety of locations by a variety of transportation modes, parking, building characteristics, prestige of location, and employee recruitment and retention. Again, this hardly supports the consultants’ broad premise.

When explaining the greater success of office development in the southern part of the Route 28 corridor, the consultants points to the presence of the National Reconnaissance Organization, “which serves as an employment anchor attracting government contractors.” The consultants then note, “The absence of such an anchor in Loudoun County to outsource work to contractors is limiting the development potential of the Study Area.” Given the new DOD regulations, unstudied by the Consultants, I do not believe that mixed-use development will attract such an anchor.

Arguing against the consultants’ own conclusion is the following statement they make in their report: “One major advantage Loudoun County has over its competitors is large tracts of land set aside for custom campus development. These set-asides have attracted users such as Orbital Sciences and most recently Raytheon….The Raytheon consolidation at the former AOL campus underscores that there is demand for second-generation campus space, and that this space remains viable even after the original tenant has vacated.” It is precisely this advantage that the consultants’ report – and those who point to it as justification for approving the Kincora application – would urge us to relinquish.

The consultant themselves point to the decision by Raytheon last year to consolidate its operations in a traditional office park setting as evidence that the market for such facilities continues. Conversely, I see no indication that the County’s already approved mixed use centers are particularly successful. With the exception of Wegman’s, the Village at Leesburg remains a ghost town. Work at One Loudoun seems to have stalled as the developer seeks to refinance the project. Arcola Center has submitted a Zoning Concept Plan Amendment to change the phasing of the project and its proffers. As of last September, only five percent of the planned office space at the Dulles Town Center was sold or leased. Fairfax County approved two large mixed-use developments in the southern end of the Route 28 corridor: one project is in the site plan process; the other is idle because the developer has filed for bankruptcy. Elsewhere in Virginia, mixed-use developments have a mixed history of success. For every success, such as Bell Creek in Hanover County or Heritage Hunt in Prince William County, there are several failing to live up to their promises, such as the Celebrate Virginia developments in Fredericksburg and Stafford County, Watkins Centre in Chesterfield County, and the Lewistown Commerce Center in Hanover County. To my mind, trusting that mixed-used development will maximize the County and the corridor’s economic development potential is nothing more than an act of faith.

2. Allowing residential units is the only way to incentivize developers to build Class A office space rather than by-right data or distribution centers.

The State legislation authorizing the creation of the Route 28 Tax District includes a measure that prevents the County from ever changing the underlying zoning without the landowners’ permission. Thus, while the County’s Comprehensive Plan designates this area for keynote employment and Class A office space, the by-right zoning is Industrial Park (IP). Yet, this argument ignores the substantial number of requests from district landowners to voluntarily opt-out of the by-right 1972 zoning to the zoning called for in the 1993 Revised Comprehensive Plan. Since 2004, the Board has received and approved 18 such requests, almost one-third of which were received during the past two years. None of these landowners requested residential density as an incentive.

3. Approving this application – no matter how flawed – is the only way to get the missing sections of Gloucester Parkway and Pacific Boulevard built and to relieve traffic congestion at Waxpool Road.

Last week, the County Administrator presented the Board with nine options for funding the Gloucester Parkway segment, which everyone seems to agree is the first priority of the two roads. The County can undertake five of the options independent of this application. I have posted these options on my County webpage.

Of the four options which require the Board to approve Kincora’s application, one requires significant financial investment by the County and none of them guarantee that the road will be built within the next few years (if ever). This last statement also holds true for the off-site improvement to Pacific Boulevard. All of them require that the Board apply the Kincora capital facility proffers to the road improvements rather than to the construction of schools, parks, public safety centers, and other necessary infrastructure.

Roads are a State responsibility. When the General Assembly refuses to adopt a meaningful and legal means of funding the roads made necessary by its refusal to provide localities with meaningful growth controls, the County is left with three untenable options:

· Sit in traffic;
· Build the roads by raising local taxes, or forgoing the construction of County commitments (such as schools, parks and public safety centers), or both;
· Approve any development application – no matter how flawed, no matter how many new road trips it will generate, no matter how many new students it will add to already strained school buildings – so long as it promises to build roads.

Based on comments made by State Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton at a recent gathering in Northern Virginia, this is exactly the strategy of the current Administration in Richmond. For the reasons outline in the above bullet points, I have a problem with that. And you should too.

Those are the rationales for approval and my concerns regarding the logic. However, I have three further concerns about this project.

1. The Proposed Method of Financing. Over the last year, I have expressed grave concerns in my newsletters about the applicant’s proposal to finance the proposed road construction with Community Development Authority (CDA) bonds. Unfortunately, proponents of this project have managed the process in such a way as to separate the two discussions. Yet the proffers associated with the rezoning on which the Board will vote in three weeks contain language inclusive of a CDA. Proffers are a legal document, comparable to a binding contract. I have a problem including language that the Board has not fully discussed. The proffers do contain alternative approaches to road construction. However, contrary to long-standing Board practice, the alternative proffers delay the road construction until the end of the project. Should the Board approve the rezoning as currently proffered in July, it will face strong pressures to accelerate the road construction by approving the CDA. This is the wrong way to go about making such an important decision.

2. Impact on the Financial Health of the Route 28 Tax District. The Route 28 Tax District was established as a joint effort of VDOT and landowners to finance the widening of Route 28 and its transformation into a limited access highway through the construction of interchanges. Landowners pay an additional ad valorem tax on top of their local real property tax to pay off a portion of the bonds issued to finance the improvements. Under the legislation which established the district, residential units are removed from the district through a buy-out equation established in the legislation. The revenue generated by this equation is laughably small. It also leaves remaining landowners in the district carrying an ever-larger burden of the debt load. The health of this tax district is extremely important to the County as it committed its moral obligation to the bonds’ repayment. This means that the County has guaranteed bond holders that should the District fail to raise enough revenue to meet its debt service, the County will step in and use local tax revenues to cover any shortfalls. I voted against making such a commitment.

Currently, there is a glut of office space throughout the DC-Metro area and some 4.75 million square feet of new space under construction. Rents are falling and vacancy rates increasing. During the first quarter of 2010, Loudoun County had an office vacancy rate of 18.5 percent. This has resulted in lower assessments and lower revenue collections from the district. Coupled with a decision last year to lower the tax district’s ad valorem rate and higher than expected right-of-way costs (due primarily to a $15 million condemnation settlement with the Kincora landowners, by far the highest demanded and the highest received by any single landowner), the district was forced to tap into its Reserve Fund to make its last debt payment. To my mind, this is not the time to remove property from the district, especially as there are several residential rezoning applications waiting in the wings and watching the Board’s decision.

3. Precedents. The Board’s decision will set two important precedents neither of which I can support. First, an approval of the application will signal other landowners that the Board is prepared to support their applications and continue to add residential density to the Route 28 corridor. This is density that the Comprehensive Plan removed and for which new schools, new parks, new safety centers, new teachers, new deputies, new fire and rescue workers must be funded. The result: continued upwards pressure on our taxes.

More importantly, the Board’s decision to add these residential units to an area planned and zoned for commercial development only, without first requiring a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM), has far-reaching ramifications. Many of you will remember the battle over the Dulles South CPAMs which proposed to add 35,000 new residential units to the Route 50 corridor. It was, after all, only three years ago. What if the landowners had believed they could accomplish their goals without a CPAM by carving them up into smaller rezoning applications? The end result would have still been 35,000 new units – but with less study, less analysis, a State-mandated 12-month timetable, less opportunity for public input. The Board’s decision regarding Kincora sends a clear signal to other developers with landholdings in the County that the Board does not stand by its plan. It also eliminates our strongest legal defense against lawsuits by disappointed developers. Are two road segments really worth such a loss?

As I noted above, the Board has scheduled a Special Meeting on July 12, 2010 (prior to the regularly scheduled Public Hearing) for a final vote. There will be no public comment at that meeting. Thus, the last opportunity for citizens to comment to the Board in person will be at our Public Input meeting on Tuesday, July 6th.

Blue Ridge Leader News – June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010 Loudoun County, News, Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News – June 20, 2010

Time to Pitch In
In one of those sad twists of fate, we hear that a local firefighter lost his own house this week to the flames he’s been helping to put out for others around Loudoun County. The Middleburg Fire Department seeks donations in aid of the family of volunteer Mike Monteith.

They lost their dwelling and evidently most or all of their belongings three days ago to a house fire.

From what we heard, there were no injuries, but you can imagine the trauma of losing a lifetime of personal items in this way.

The Sterling Volunteer Fire Department has a rundown on all the clothing sizes needed- at:

Gift cards and cash would obviously be gladly accepted as well.

We understand that donations can be dropped off at the Middleburg Fire Station at 910 West Washington Street.

It’s great that much of the nation is focused on the gulf oil disaster, but right now, right here, it’s time to offer help to someone who’s been lending a hand to others.

The Pendulum Returns

We’ll see two of the accused attackers in the brutal murder/beating of a local couple go to trial. Darwin Bowman and Jaime Ayala heard their horrific list of charges earlier this week in the slaying of William Bennett and the attack on his surviving widow, Cynthia.

Those crimes occurred in March of last year in the hitherto peaceful neighborhood of Lansdowne.

We’ve already chronicled much of the detail on this case in earlier stories, you’ll recall.

Bowman will most likely face a death penalty for his role in the attack, but Ayala was a minor at the time of the crimes, so he’ll (hopefully) spend a very, very long time behind bars.

Makes you wonder why we don’t change the law in for cases like this; some of the blogs I’ve read almost makes one expect to see a lynching party outside the jail.

I can understand those feelings.

I also realize that any punishment the accused receive will fall pathetically short of restoring the victimized family to its former sense of wholeness.

What Plan?

After hearing about the passage of a revised transportation plan by our local County Board this week, I had to chuckle to myself: from the traffic I’ve experienced in Loudoun over the past 13 years, it appears as if we’ve gotten along without a transportation plan up to now- why adopt a plan at this time? All kidding aside, I’m sure the Supervisors passed this document with the best of intentions.

They’ve got designs for new connector roads, expanded existing roads, and metrorail stations for the future train service out to Ashburn.

But, even if they find the money to implement all these plans- the details are on the County’s webpage, by the way- even if they can pay for these developments, I don’t see us keeping up with the constantly growing influx of traffic from West Virginia, Maryland and other points on the compass.

Not to mention our own substantial population explosion in Loudoun County- where people are seemingly born with a steering wheel in their hands.

Like I said, I’m sure the Supervisors had the best of intentions with this new transportation plan.

I wish them well.

I also recall an old Randy Travis song- something about “…the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

The Bay with the Bathwater

And- if you really want to see a firestorm of criticism, go ahead and read some of the blogs and comments on the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act. Probably a good idea that the Board went ahead and delayed any action on this thing until September, as if they haven’t already heard enough citizen input.

Perhaps the thought was that people will change their minds; most of the reactions we’ve seen have been sharply critical of this plan to enforce stricter regulations on use of any land abutting open water.

All in the name of protecting the delicate natural balance of the Bay.

But until we have to actually drink untreated water dipped fresh from the Chesapeake, I predict that most of us will fight this thing to the last claw.

We’ve hashed over much of the data on this in previous articles, but just wanted to touch on the latest here.

Kudos to the Drug Dog- or Cocaine Canine

How do you tell the difference between dehydrated soup mix and cocaine? You get a trained canine.

That’s what officials at Dulles Airport did to apprehend a Pennsylvania man trying to get through customs with about four pounds of illegal drugs- disguised as food.

Well, the dog wasn’t fooled by the soup packaging- or even the presence of rice kernels in some of the cocaine bags.

This all came down on Thursday night after an incoming flight from El Salvador touched down at Dulles.

You know, the older I get, the less I’m surprised by the stupidity of Mankind and the remarkable abilities of the various members of the animal kingdom.

Heck, I swear my dogs can find a molecule of dog biscuit hidden in the recesses of the couch without batting an eye.

Two Papers are Better than One…er…

Well, it’s good to see at least one story of local media in which yet another paper or radio station or cable show isn’t axed; that’s not to say we see any big change in the merger announcement for the Loudoun Times Mirror and Loudoun Independent. The carefully prepared statements by the ‘paper heads’ left us kinda scratching our head as to what changed, if any, the readers can expect.

Maybe it’s just as well if we don’t see an about-face for either paper; I would like to see their staffs remain in place, having myself been professionally displaced in a very different kind of local media story.

Looking Forward to Looking Back

One of our favorite purveyors of local history plans to reopen its doors in a matter of days. The Loudoun Museum’s getting ready to celebrate its return to the public ‘stage’ on July 2nd.

They’ve designed a new display for the occasion, called “The Lure of Loudoun: Virginia’s Emerald County.”

We hear the exhibit shows the constant vibrancy of the area in the face of enormous changes.

The Loudoun Museum- on Loudoun Street in Downtown Leesburg- has been closed since April for repairs.

The Building itself- colloquially known as Oddfellows Hall- is itself an historic artifact.

You may remember the squirrel trouble they had awhile back- with chewed electrical wiring?

All part of their ongoing story.

Officer Down

Our local law enforcement community mourns the passing of one of the greats of their brotherhood; former Loudoun County Sheriff Robert Legard of Lovettsville died earlier this month at the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Leesburg. He served four terms as Sheriff- from 1964 to 1979.

Legard’s law enforcement career spanned almost three decades.

He was instrumental in setting up a modern communications system for local emergency services- coordinating with radio legend Arthur Godfrey to construct a broadcast tower for those purposes.

Robert Legard was the first member of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to graduate from the FBI Academy- in 1970.

He served on a special commission devoted to Law Enforcement Training Standards- on appointment by then-Governor Linwood Holton.

Sheriff Legard served as a Deputy under another local law enforcement legend- the late William Powell- back in the 1950’s.

I spoke to Legard at the time of Sheriff Powell’s passing- in 2001- and it was a marvel to hear his description of the County in those days.

He said that was a real ‘Golden Age’ in Loudoun County History.

Legard served- at that time- as one of two Deputies sworn to protect and serve an entire County- 517 square miles!

Talk about dedication.

The population at that time stood in the 20-thousand-plus range.

I remember Sheriff Legard said they just did their best with the resources they had at the time.

I’m sure few of us can even imagine the actual services performed by Officers like William Powell and Robert Legard.

Well, hats off for Sheriff Legard.

Condolences to his family and many friends- and his Law Enforcement Colleagues.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the New Jeruselem Church in Lovettsville (12942 Lutheran Church Road) or the Lovettsville Fire and Rescue Squad (PO Box 123)- Zip Code for both is 20180.

Flooding and Global Warming

June 17, 2010 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Flooding and Global Warming

Today’s column is a guest column by Dr. Jeff Masters. Masters is founder of the web site weather underground [1]. This is one of the best sources of information about weather. To learn more about Masters see [2].

I asked Jeff if I could republish this particular column because he explains the impact of anthropogenic global warming on our weather. We cannot blame any individual hurricane or flood on global warming any more than one cold day in December, when it is supposed to be cold anyway, refutes global warming. Instead one has to look at the predictions that anthropogenic global warming makes about the statistics of weather and observe whether or not these predictions of the theory hold. Indeed they do.

Jeff’s columns are well researched and contain verifiable references. This is a site I recommend. A reader can learn a great deal. If you have folks living on the Florida panhandle, as I do, this is the best place to be informed about any danger.

Dr. Jeff Masters

Groisman et al. (2004) [3] found that in the U.S. during the 20th century, there was a 16 percent increase in cold season (October – April) “heavy” precipitation events (greater than 2 inches in one day), a 25 percent increase in “very heavy” precipitation events (greater than 4 inches in one day), and a 36 percent rise in “extreme” precipitation events (those in the 99.9 percent percentile–1 in 1000 events.) A sharp rise in extreme precipitation is what is predicted by global warming models in the scientific literature Hegerl et al. (2004) [4] . According the landmark 2009 U.S. Climate Impact Report [5] from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, “the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places.” Most of this increase came since 1970, due to the approximate 1°F increase in U.S. average temperature since 1970. That 1°F increase in temperature means that there is 4 percent more moisture in the atmosphere, on average. According to the 2007 IPCC report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5 percent over the 20th century, and 4 percent since 1970. Satellite measurements (Trenberth et al., 2005) have shown a 1.3 percent per decade increase in water vapor over the global oceans since 1988. Santer et al. (2007) used a climate model to study the relative contribution of natural and human-caused effects on increasing water vapor, and concluded that this increase was “primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases”. This was also the conclusion of Willet et al. (2007).

Dr. Joe Romm over at [6] has an excellent interview with Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center of Atmospheric Research on the subject of heavy precipitation events and global warming. Dr. Trenberth is the world’s leading expert on water vapor in the atmosphere, and he comments that “since the 1970s, on average, there’s about a 4 percent increase in water vapor over the Atlantic Ocean, and when that gets caught into a storm, it invigorates the storm so the storm itself changes, and that can easily double the influence of that water vapor and so you can get up to an 8 percent increase, straight from the amount of water vapor that’s sort of hanging around in the atmosphere. This is reasonably well established.” Dr. Trenberth further comments, “Now the physical cause for this is very much related to the water vapor that flows into these storms. And these kinds of storms, well all storms for that matter, reach out on average–this is very much a gross average–about 4 times the radius or 16 times the area of the region that’s precipitating, the rain. And for these kinds of storms a lot of the moisture is coming out of the sub-tropical Atlantic and even the tropical Atlantic; some of it comes out of the Gulf of Mexico. And so the moisture actually travels about 2000 miles where it gets caught up in these storms and then it rains down. And the key thing is, that in the tropical and sub-tropical Atlantic the sea temperatures are at very high levels and in fact they’re the highest on record at the moment right in the eastern tropical Atlantic. It’s going to be interesting to see what that does for this hurricane season coming up.”

We cannot say that any of this year’s flooding disasters were definitely due to global warming, and part of the reason for this year’s numerous U.S. flooding disasters is simply bad luck. However, higher temperatures do cause an increased chance of heavy precipitation events, and it is likely that the flooding in some of this year’s U.S. flooding disasters were significantly enhanced by the presence of more water vapor in the air due to global warming. We can expect a large increase in flooding disasters in the U.S. and worldwide if the climate continues to warm as expected.

Funding issues threaten hundreds of streamgages

According to the USGS web site [7], river stage data from 292 streamgages has been discontinued recently, or is scheduled for elimination in the near future due to budget cuts. In Tennessee, 16 streamflow gages with records going back up to 85 years will stop collecting data on July 1 because of budget cuts. Five gages in Arkansas are slated for elimination this year. Hardest hit will be Pennsylvania, which will lose 30 of its 258 streamgages. With over 50 people dead from two flooding disasters already this year, now hardly seems to be the time to be skimping on monitoring river flow levels by cutting funding for hundreds of streamgages. These gages are critical for proper issuance of flood warnings to people in harm’s way. Furthermore, most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 1. Streamgages that have been discontinued or are being considered for discontinuation or for conversion from continuous record discharge to stage-only stations. Funds for these 292 threatened streamgages are from the U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies. For those streamgages that have already been discontinued, extensive efforts were made to find another funding source; however, when no funding was made available the streamgages had to be discontinued. If you have questions about specific streamgages, click on the state of concern on the USGS web page [8] of threatened stream gages.


[2] from






Figure 1 [cid:image001.png@01CB0D25.7FC29240]

Loudoun Lightning Gearing Up for Tryouts

June 14, 2010 Uncategorized Comments Off on Loudoun Lightning Gearing Up for Tryouts

The current 12U NoVA elite travel baseball team is holding tryouts for qualified players in June and July for Fall and Spring 13U Loudoun Lightning roster. The Lightning’s 2010 record was 10-1-1 in ODBL (1st place) and 18-5-1 overall.

Contact Wright Hooks at or call (703) 943-9592 for more information.

Tim Jon Speaks with Supervisor Stevens Miller, Dulles District

June 14, 2010 News, Uncategorized Comments Off on Tim Jon Speaks with Supervisor Stevens Miller, Dulles District

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Open Letter to Supervisors and Citizens

June 14, 2010 Dear Editor Comments Off on Open Letter to Supervisors and Citizens

Hello! My name is Aislin Kavaldjian; I’m a student at Loudoun Valley High School and an ardent member of the Environmental Explorations course taught and maintained by Mr. John DeMary, renowned environmentalist. I believe it is important for citizens of Loudoun and their representatives to fully understand a first-hand assessment of the value of Riparian Buffer areas and the benefits the Loudoun County and Chesapeake Bay Preservation act legislation would offer.

It is important to consider the big picture. Loudoun County seems to be relatively far from the tidewater region we border, however the Chesapeake is almost literally in our back yard. Consideration of this fact is sometimes ignored by citizens and business owners who feel distanced from the Bay, however four of the major inputs into the Chesapeake derive from Virginia, and our county alone contains Catoctin Creek, Goose Creek, and ultimately the Potomac River. These sources lead directly into the Chesapeake Bay and play a measurable part in the continued pollution of that water source. It is key to consider that this pollution is not only preventable, but reversible, and requires minimal efforts from private landowners.

The pollution that continues to negatively affect the Chesapeake watershed is almost entirely “non-point” pollution, or pollution that is not directly inserted into the water source. This means runoff from impervious surfaces such as parking lots and sidewalks, but also from groundwater in gardens, farm fields and groundwater from lawns. This particular type of pollution is both the easiest to inflict and the easiest to remedy. Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers all find their way into the watershed through civilian use; the fertilizer can lead to a build-up of nitrates in the water, causing major fish-kills and dead-zones, areas of the Chesapeake that are sometimes miles-long and kill all fish and aquatic plant life due to lack of oxygen, effectively drowning creatures meant to live entirely under water. This kind of senseless killing can be cured effectively by a county-wide awareness of this cycle, and the Preservation act would encourage just that.

My experiences this year in my Environmental Explorations course have encouraged a thorough understanding of the gravity of this situation and the benefits of Riparian Buffers. On a recent canoe trip on the Potomac River we crossed three input streams. Two were fenced from livestock and flourished under the cover of small trees, shrubs and wild flowers. The third, and closest to the river, bordered on private property. The owners had a barn built not fifty feet from the edge of the creek, and allowed their six horses to go as they pleased through the water source, even allowing them to defecate in it—it was eye-opening to observe that our entire class was preparing to swim in that exact same polluted water.

I have read many articles that are extremely misleading in regards to this proposed legislation. Some claim that it is an effort for governmental control, some that it is going to change their way of life; some are even concerned that they will not be permitted to build a swing-set without a license from the county. I feel it is important for these citizens to realize three things:

  1. This law is not retroactive; any existing structures will not be forced to be removed.
  2. The riparian buffer areas do not belong to the county.
  3. It is a government body’s responsibility to ensure that its’ citizens are safe and healthful; these regulations do not take control, but rather encourage clean water sources and more effective preservation policies. In other words, your daughter’s new swing set is safe. Seriously, what would the board do with one of those anyway?

It is inappropriate for the county to base such grave decisions off of misinformation and ignorance and it is the Board’s duty to encourage the truth. My year spent in the outdoors has taught me not only how to appreciate the wild world that surrounds us, but also how to preserve, protect and care for it. I hope the Board and my fellow citizens can eventually do the same.

Aislin Kavaldjian
Senior, LVHS








The Holocene Climate


(Public Input Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 7 March, 2017) Figure 1 shows the climate variation over the last million years. The low points on the curve correspond to ice ages when glaciers up to a mile thick covered New …

Choosing To Forgive


By Samuel Moore-Sobel “Truly forgiving is the ability to say, ‘Thank you for giving me that experience.’” James Arthur Ray vaulted into fame on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the mid-2000’s. Stunned hearing these words while watching The Rise and …

Five Key Retirement Questions


Beyond asking yourself where you see yourself and even what your lifelong goal are, effective retirement and longevity planning begs some very big questions. Review the points below and consider how housing, transportation and health considerations all play a role …

Work Woes


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I’m a manager at a large tech company and my boss has directed me to fire someone on my team, but as a Christian, I just can’t do it. It’s true that the employee …

Joy or Suffering

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde No one likes to suffer. When given the chance, many people would choose to laugh rather than cry, to sit in silence with their friends rather than talk through their feelings, because not even their friends …

Wage Radio


I will always remember – very fondly – the first time I ever set foot on the property at 711 Wage Drive Southwest in Leesburg, Virginia. It was a warm, sunny July morning in 1997, and I’d driven all the …

Speaking Truth to Power


“With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln On Thursday evening, February 23, I requested the Board of Supervisors pass a proclamation resolving to support the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22 [1]. …

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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March 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
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
March 6, 2017 March 7, 2017 March 8, 2017 March 9, 2017 March 10, 2017 March 11, 2017 March 12, 2017
March 13, 2017 March 14, 2017 March 15, 2017 March 16, 2017 March 17, 2017 March 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

Wine & Chili Weekend
March 19, 2017

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale

Joshua Carr River Safety Foundation Rummage Sale
March 20, 2017 March 21, 2017 March 22, 2017 March 23, 2017 March 24, 2017

March Fourth Friday

March Fourth Friday
March 25, 2017 March 26, 2017

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch

Spring Brunch
March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Nebbiolo Vertical Tasting

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event
April 2, 2017

”Homage to Mother Earth”

”Homage to Mother Earth”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater, “One Slight Hitch”
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Recent Comments

  • David on Protecting Free Speech: Constitutionally protected speech is exactly what it sounds like, protected. We all have the legal right to utter nonsensical and...
  • Martha on Protecting Free Speech: Free speech is not a cherished right at the not-quite accredited Patrick Henry College, a religious school that Del. LaRock...
  • Martha Polkey on First Look at Envision Loudoun Results: It remains to be seen whether the direction citizens have provided to the Envision process is actually incorporated into the...
  • David on Protecting Free Speech: Mr. LaRock, I assume that the only reason you weren’t at every School Board meeting in 2005 passionately defending the...
  • LongTimePville on Purcellville Emergency Meeting Postponed to March 10: I bet Kelli Grim flip flops on her conflicts of interest and transparency campaign she ran on and does not...

Steady and NoBull


Loudoun Workforce Resource Center Presents STEM Career Fair March 28

16 Mar 2017

Illustration of STEM education word typography design in orange theme with icon ornament elements

Anyone interested in a career in the rapidly growing field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is encouraged to attend an upcoming STEM Career Fair in Loudoun. The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC)’s Loudoun campus and NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, is holding a STEM Career Fair Tuesday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 …

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Keep Loudoun Beautiful—Greater Lovettsville Area Volunteers Needed

16 Mar 2017

Lovettsville Boat Launch 7-26-09

The Keep Loudoun Beautiful spring clean-up takes place the entire month of April and greater Lovettsville needs volunteers. Bags, vests, gloves and grabbers are available at the Lovettsville Community Center during normal business hours, Monday-Friday. This is a great group or individual activity that can be scheduled around your availability. E-mail Lovettsville Area Leader, Laura Lieberman, for details and to …

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National Awkward Moments Day

8 Mar 2017


?Laughing at Yourself Is the Best Medicine No one knows who invented National Awkward Moments Day, Saturday, March 18. That’s no surprise, since it probably came about as the result of one stunningly awkward moment that the owner of that moment was hoping to forget. We surveyed our readers and friends to ask them about their most awkward moments, sharing …

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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

Protecting Free Speech


By Dave LaRock (R-33) As elected officials and members of the legislature, our most fundamental responsibility is to protect God-given constitutionally protected rights. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government, including governmental public colleges and universities, from infringing on free speech and the free exercise of …


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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Vikings Runner-Up at the State Championship 

8 Mar 2017


The Loudoun Valley Vikings are the boy’s runner-up at the VHSL 4A State Indoor Track and Field Championships at Roanoke College.  During the 2015-2016 school year, the Loudoun County School Board approved Indoor Track and Field as a Tier 2 (self-funded) sport.  The seven boys competing scored 48 points, second …

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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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