Matthew Schwartz Named to Oglethorpe University Fall Dean’s List

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader People Comments Off on Matthew Schwartz Named to Oglethorpe University Fall Dean’s List

Matthew Schwartz,of Paeonian Springs was among just over 200 students from Oglethorpe University who made the Fall 2010 Dean’s List. The Business major is a second year student at Oglethorpe, who earned this distinction by reaching at least a 3.5 grade-point average while maintaining a full-time class schedule for the semester.

Clyde Kessler Named to Dean’s List at Hampden-Sydney College

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader People Comments Off on Clyde Kessler Named to Dean’s List at Hampden-Sydney College

Clyde Royal Kessler, a senior at Hampden-Sydney College, was named to the Dean’s List for the first semester of the 2010-2011 academic year. To earn this distinction, students must achieve at least a 3.3 semester grade point average out of a possible 4.0.

Clyde is a graduate of Loudoun Valley High School and is the son of Robert and Joanne Feickert of Round Hill.

A private college for men, Hampden-Sydney is ranked in the top tier of liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The College is known for its liberal arts curriculum, the Honor Code which stresses individual and collective responsibility, and a focus on the needs of young men.

Purcellville Police Blotter – Week of January 22

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader News, Public Safety Comments Off on Purcellville Police Blotter – Week of January 22

Click here to see this week’s Police Blotter.

Yard Sale – Part 2

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Yard Sale – Part 2

“A guiding principle is that new ideas come from profound analysis of simple models – thinking deeply of simple things.” Ray Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

“Misery and poverty are frequently confused, because they are close – close, but located on either side of a limit. On one side, economic life is not assured; on the other side, it is assured. Beneath that limit, there’s misery, no certainty of a viable life, constant risk; above the limit, the risk stops, and poor or rich, there is assurance. Immediately above the limit is poverty, and above that are the successive zones of affluence. All below is misery; poverty is only a little above; thus the two are close in quantity, closer than much affluence is to poverty. Judging only by quantity, wealth is much further from poverty than poverty is from misery; but between poverty and misery is a distinction in quality, in nature.” Charles Péguy, 1902 essay “De Jean Coste.” [1]

Tony Noerpel

Following Pierrehumbert’s advice, Last week I discussed the need for simple economic models and listed some requirements of a good model. I suggested Pareto’s Yard Sale model [2] to describe the observed migration of wealth from middle class and poor to the wealthy which seems to have occurred in all human civilizations since humans discovered the principle of private property and commerce. Prior to about 10,000 year ago, humans lived as small (between 75 and 150 individuals) egalitarian groups based on hunting and gathering with little concept of private property. With private property came trade and with trade came inequality. Pareto’s yard sale model suggests that inequality is inherently a result of commerce even without considering individual characteristics such as intelligence, good looks, shrewdness or dishonesty. In a large population some individuals will win big and many will lose. There have always been kings and emperors, dictators and captains of industry while most of the population either just got by or were slaves or destitute. According to the yard sale economic model with near certain probability somebody will become as wealthy as Bill Gates. The probability that Gates’ himself would turn out to be that person were probably rather low but because of his personal characteristics and inherited wealth certainly much higher than most people.

Another simple model that can show that this propensity of commerce to make somebody rich and many people poor is the Gambler’s Ruin problem from probability theory [3]. If two gamblers start with an equal amount of money and make a series of small wagers on the outcome of the toss of a fair coin, it is easy to show in closed form that there is a 50 percent probability that the first player will become bankrupted and a 50 percent probability that the second player will become bankrupted and zero probability that the game will continue without bankruptcy. This result is exact.

Further, we can calculate the probability of ruin for the two players if they start with unequal amounts of money. As you would expect, the player starting with the most money is most likely to win. The problem can be made more interesting by varying the relative probabilities of each player’s chances of winning. In other words, if the first player cheats a little bit, he may increase his probability of winning each coin toss slightly but he will increase the probability of the second player going bankrupt substantially.

At this time, 129 million Americans have health care problems which qualify as pre-existing conditions. All of these people could be denied coverage by their private-for-profit health insurance companies if the GOP/FOX/corporate elite succeed in overturning Obama’s health care plan [4]. Since health problems are the principle reason families are forced into bankruptcy in the United States, more American families will become vulnerable if Republicans were to succeed.

A recent report published by the Levi Institute finds that the top 1 percent of American households by income hold 37.1 percent of all wealth. The next 4 percent hold 27.9 percent. The next 15 percent hold 22.2 percent. The next 20 percent holds 10 percent of all wealth. The middle quintile holds 3.1 percent of all wealth. The bottom 40 percent of American households hold -0.8 percent of all wealth. 24.1 percent of all American households have negative net worth [5]. We see that wealth distribution is highly skewed and most Americans are vulnerable to economic failure even without suffering a debilitating injury or illness. The author of this report, Edward Wolff, concludes:

We can see how the rising debt of the middle class made them vulnerable to income shocks and set the stage for the mortgage crises of 2008 and 2009 and the resulting financial meltdown. The rapid decline in house prices over these two years (on the order of 24 percent) left many middle-class families (I estimate 16.6 percent of homeowners) “underwater” (greater mortgage debt than the value of their homes) and, coupled with a sharp spike in unemployment, unable (or unwilling) to repay their mortgage loans.”

Since the exploitation of fossil fuels, humans have been able to create new wealth faster than the natural migration of wealth from middle class and poor to the wealthy. In the recent past, this has led to increasing prosperity for a greater number of people but it has not eliminated misery. The large middle class was a positive feedback further increasing total wealth. This led to the evolution of modern democracies and the sense of fairness in which we all believe. A prudent and honorable goal of our society might be that no American has to live in misery and indeed we were on our way to achieving this goal. Poverty as defined by Péguy is fine so long as all Americans have equal opportunity, access to education, freedom from hunger and adequate health care and nobody is forced into misery. While some unequal wealth distribution may be acceptable and even desirable, vast accumulation of wealth is quite unnecessary and is harmful to the democratic process. Chief Justice William Brandeis wrote [6]: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” One of the mantras of the current economic crises is that failed banks were “too big to fail” and were subsequently bailed out. The lesson might have been that we should not let corporations become too big to fail or individuals to wealthy and powerful to corrupt, but we appear to have lost the opportunity to learn and apply this important lesson.

Naturally, extreme wealth is connected with extreme influence and power and of course that corrupts democracy. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited funding of political campaigns by wealthy individuals and corporations probably signaled America’s transition from an oligarchy to a keptocracy [7]. Since Justices Scalia and Thomas met with the Koch Brothers who directly benefitted from the decision several times while the Supreme Court was dealing with the issue, they should have recused themselves. This is of course text book corruption.

Since the natural flow of wealth seems to be from poor to already wealthy and the natural evolution is to fewer and fewer larger and wealthier entities and individuals, we need a progressive income tax in order to redistribute wealth back to society. This is not a new idea but it is one that has been both successful and then successfully attacked by corporate elite, since the Reagan administration. We need to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision and institute real campaign finance reform. We can learn from more successful democracies. We also need to decide, as a nation, whether or not we are going to tolerate misery, as we do today, or work to eliminate it. Since most of us are perhaps a single transaction away from misery, this might be the preferred choice of a majority of well informed citizenry.

I don’t suggest that excess wealth be taxed and then simply given to the poor. What I suggest is that it be taxed and then invested in the needs of society such as building schools, financing single payer federal health care, building mass transportation systems and of course funding research and development.

In part 3 of this series, I will describe Herman Daly’s ecological economic model of the economy and how it can show us how to invest in society in a sustainable way.


[2] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002

[3] Ghahramani, Fundamentals of Probability, second edition, Prentice-Hall, 2000.





The Unloved

January 23, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Dear Editor, Opinion Comments Off on The Unloved

By Mark Gunderman

Last year 62 children were provided an unconditional love in the GSA shelters. A total of 118 people lived in our shelters receiving 8,216 bed-nights and 20,540 meals in 2010. However 937 folks were turned away due to a lack of bed space. Over 1,400 near homeless families were assisted through GSA Outreach and Resources and Referrals programs. … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News – January 23, 2011
tim jon

Crime- and Punishment

Up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines; how’s that for making racist remarks at a local department store and then beating up another customer who objects to your comments? The accused attacker from the January 2 incident at the Dulles Town Center Sears has been charged with a couple of misdemeanors, and may walk away with what many may feel is light sentencing.

Adam Clark Branson of Ashburn turned himself in to authorities and faces one count of assault and battery and another for disorderly conduct.

Perhaps they could force him to watch a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Defiant Ones, or even to read a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or maybe some of the more stirring speeches by the late Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

But, poetic justice seldom reigns supreme in our country. … Continue Reading

Sushi’s Back

January 22, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sushi's Corner Comments Off on Sushi’s Back

Hello out there, it’s me Sushi.

Wondering where I have been lately? Well let me tell you… I had a lot of work to do to run off my turkey belly after Thanksgiving. Then I had to sleep off my Pot Roast belly after Christmas. Now that that work is done I am keeping watch from the warm hay loft in the barn. I love it up here perched on top of my hay bales, watching out over the world of my little farm. I wish you would all come out and join me. Not a cozier feeling in the whole world than sitting on top a hay bale with the loft doors open and the sun warming your face in the midst of a cold winter blast!

We are bringing in the New Year with a bang at Fields of Athenry Farm. Popper one of Bernie and Lainos’ favorite ewes had the farms first set of twin ewe lambs this past week. (That’s “girl lambs” for those of you not too sure) Now Popper is special – it seems it was just yesterday when we were all sitting on hay bales down in the lambing stall when Popper was born on New Year’s Eve, in 2006.

Yep, you guessed it Popper and her twin brother Uncle Cracker – were born that New Year’s night, as the ball dropped in New York City!

As I watch out over my farm, as any mighty Cairn Terrier would do – I remember with fond memories, think of my future and my born and bred duties.

With clear resolution I promise to myself this will be my best year yet.

I think about when young lambs and baby geese are born how weary and tired they can get from a hard birth or the cold. I vow to protect and defend my barn yard. I commit to being cheerful by flashing my brilliant white tooth grin. When the sly ones sneak up from the forbidden woods and want to snack on Mrs. B’s favorite poultry, I will howl from the hay loft in warning. I will leap with ferocity onto the farm drive and stand my ground. I will defend all the small chicks unaware of the dangers that await them from the sneaky fox.

I promise to write each and every week that I can, to bring you my friends new “Tails” from the Barn Yard.

Speaking of new “Tails,” as the Farm Crier I have an announcement to make –

There are going to be some major changes in Mrs. B’s life……and her name is Stinging Nettle Nelly……………

Until next week,

Love, Sushi

Public invited to submit local redistricting plans

January 20, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Government, Loudoun County, Notices Comments Off on Public invited to submit local redistricting plans

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is soliciting redistricting proposals (the redrawing of local election district lines) from citizens and interested groups. Instructions for submitting proposals are available at Proposals submitted by 5:00 on Friday January 28, 2011 will be posted on the County’s website and made available to the Board for consideration. While early submissions are encouraged due to the limited time available to complete the redistricting, the public may submit proposals or comment at any time prior to a decision by the Board on a redistricting plan. Tentatively, the Board will decide on a plan in April 2011.

Join Woodgrove for a Wolverine Shoot Out

January 18, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Sports Comments Off on Join Woodgrove for a Wolverine Shoot Out

First annual Woodgrove Wolverine Shoot-a-Thon will be held on Saturday, February 5, at 4:30 p.m. at Woodgrove High School. Coach Douglas will be holding a free clinic for all WLBL players who attend the Shoot-A-Thon. Also the WLBL players will have the opportunity to rebound for the Woodgrove players during the Shoot-A-Thon. The Shoot-A-Thon will be part of Woodgrove’s Youth Weekend where all WLBL players in their jerseys will get in free to the games on Friday, February 4 beginning at 6:00 p.m. against Tuscarora and on Saturday, February 5 against James Wood beginning at 1:00 p.m. The Shoot-A-Thon will follow. Also the WLBL travel teams are invited to scrimmage at half time of the games Friday night against Tuscarora. The sixth grade team will play during the halftime of the Freshman team, the seventh grade team will play during the halftime of the JV game, and the eighth grade team will play during the halftime of the Varsity game. Come on out and support the boys.

Yard Sale – Part 1

January 18, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Yard Sale – Part 1

“We make models in science but we also make them in everyday life. Model-dependent realism applies not only to scientific models but also to the conscious and subconscious mental models we all create in order to interpret and understand the everyday world.” Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 2010 [1].

by Tony Noerpel

In my last article [2], I discussed the difference between thinking dogmatically and thinking critically. In either case we construct models to help us understand reality. Using Paul O’Neill’s terminology, recall that an ideologue’s model is arbitrary and rigidly maintained without regard to facts. A philosopher’s model is based on facts and is continuously adjusted to accommodate new information. One might say that a philosopher (or physicist) is willing to accept the possibility that she might be wrong. The physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow write in The Grand Design [1] that a good model:

  1. Is elegant
  2. Contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements
  3. Agrees with and explains all existing observations
  4. Makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.

We can ignore the first two points for now as these are subjective. The third point requires hard work, anathema to ideologues according to O’Neill, and the fourth point requires courage, as the models must be tested with the possibility that they may be incorrect or inadequate. Though economics is a soft science, a good economic model should have these properties also. A good economic model should explain observation and would have anticipated the recent housing bubble, the recession, the run up in gold and oil prices and the credit crises. The economist Gregory Mankiw in his popular text book, Principles of Economics [3] writes:

“In his 1776 book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, economist Adam Smith made the most famous observation in all of economics: Households and firms interacting in markets act as if they are guided by an ‘invisible hand’ that leads them to desirable market outcomes. One of our goals in this book is to understand how this invisible hand works its magic.”

An astute observer might note that James Watts invented the steam engine in the same year, 1776, which allowed the British to exploit the low entropy of their coal and that British coal production peaked in the early 1900’s coincident with the decline of their empire. In other words, a robust economy may have more to do with thermodynamics than magic.

Mankiw’s free market, small government model works reasonably well, though not perfectly, when the resources it ignores are not limited and when pollution does not overwhelm the economic system, but eventually it fails utterly. Given that the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have both acknowledged that peak production of conventional crude oil has already occurred in 2005 and 2006 respectively, our economy is clearly resource constrained. Given the size of ocean dead zones, mountaintop removal mining, soil deterioration and global warming, our economy is further constrained by our pollution. Since our current and on-going economic crisis is thermodynamic in nature, a model which ignores entropy is not likely to do well. Recall that the physicist Arthur Eddington wrote that if your model contradicts the second law of thermodynamics there is no hope for it. We need better economic models. In this series of articles I propose three.

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian engineer/economist who died in 1923, collected vast amounts of data on wealth and income distribution from many different countries and from several time periods, which included a variety of economic and government types. He found that wealth was always distributed inequitably, following a power law distribution sometimes called the 80-20 rule or the Pareto principle, i.e., 80 percent of the people owned 20 percent of the wealth and 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth [4]. One might observe that the invisible hand inevitably makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Pareto developed the “yard sale” economic model, which was nicely described in an article in American Scientist by the mathematician Brian Hayes [5]. This is the first of our three simple models. This model holds wealth constant and the initial distribution of wealth is uniform across the population. If the participants engage in transactions which are of exactly fair value (market efficiency holds) then the economy is stable and robust and continues forever with the same equitable distribution of wealth. However, if we assume instead that transactions are of unequal value even if only by a very small amount relative to the total value of the transactions, eventually one person accrues all of the wealth and the economy dies. To justify the latter assumption note that everybody who purchased a home after 2003 paid too much. Cleary the market is not efficient and there is no invisible hand guiding the economy. And this result is independent of skill, hard work, avarice, or intelligence as well as the details of the way the economy operates. An unregulated free market leads to inequality at least until it becomes so unstable that the economy breaks.

Pareto observed that the wealthy accumulated power as well. This destroys democracy and feeds corruption further aggregating both wealth and power in a positive feedback loop.

According to Mankiw a free market economy will encourage entrepreneurial ambitions and economic growth. This can appear to work if at the same time society is discovering and exploiting new sources of energy. With the discovery of fossil fuels wealth was created faster than the wealthy could co-opt it from the majority. Thus prospects for the majority improved and a large middle class was created in many societies including the United States. This in itself was a positive feedback which encouraged yet more growth. In the end though, the momentum of the unregulated free market is to aggregate wealth in a highly skewed power law distribution. As resources are depleted, wealth aggregation overwhelms wealth creation. The middle class becomes poor and the poor fall out of the economy altogether. This is happening in the United States today. Mankiw’s model does not predict this. In fact Mankiw reprints a gushing article by the articulate and insouciant free-market cheerleader David Brooks from November 27, 2004, just before the economic collapse, titled “Good News about Poverty” [6], describing how remarkably well the world economy was doing.

Pareto’s yard sale model while elegantly simple has obvious deficiencies. It ignores avarice and greed, intelligence and hard work, ambition, and other personality characteristics which might favor some individual’s fate over others. But we can show that these differences exacerbate inherent inequitable wealth accumulation. The yard sale model also starts from an equitable initial condition. In reality some of us are born into poverty and others into wealth. How we start out in life is a substantial disadvantage or advantage. Mankiw writes: “A person’s earnings depend on the supply and demand for that person’s labor, which in turn depend on natural ability, human capital, compensating differentials, discrimination, and so on.” While all that is true, Mankiw ignores initial conditions and pure luck or happenstance in the eventual distribution of income. We can appreciate how these differences might exacerbate inequitable distribution by considering a second model, the Gambler’s Ruin problem from probability theory [7]. We will do this in part two.

Finally, neither Pareto nor Mankiw consider thermodynamic limits. When we discover how to exploit new sources of low entropy, more surplus wealth is created. On the other hand, all wealth is far from thermodynamic equilibrium so that cars rust and bananas rot. Our clothes become threadbare and our infrastructure deteriorates. Wealth is continually destroyed and needs replacing. Pollution and misallocation of resources extract wealth from the economy. The eventual cost of addressing global warming will far exceed, by several orders of magnitude, the relatively meager immediate gains (capital formation) made by the wealthy as a consequence of ignoring the problem. The nuclear arms race had cost the United States over five trillion dollars by 1998 [9]. All of our federal debt can be attributed to misallocating the nation’s capital and low entropy towards military spending and as a consequence our country is being bankrupted by the same forces that bankrupted the Soviet Union. All of these factors, including the incipient housing market collapse were evident by the time Brooks wrote his ill-considered column.

Consider that Mankiw published the fourth edition in 2007, after the housing bubble burst and well into the credit crises and several years after peak oil, yet his book does not contain any information about bubbles, resources, crashes or derivatives. One would think that it would not be so difficult to make predictions after they’ve already happened.

Thermodynamic impacts can be appreciated by considering our third model, Herman Daly’s ecosystem model of the economy. We will address this aspect in part three.

These three models (perhaps not elegant but simple) together can suggest in broad terms what we need to do in the United States in order to preserve our economy and society and ensure its sustainability. They are too crude to supply the detail. However, given the direction in which we are headed, and which most of us inherently understand is not good, comprehending those broad terms would be an enormous benefit.

The conclusion of Pareto’s yard sale model is that happenstance alone naturally exacerbates inequality. As we will see human frailty, such as greed, inevitably makes this condition worse.

[1] Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, Bantam Books, 2010.


[3] Mankiw, Principles of Economics, Fourth Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, 2007.


[5] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002

[6] David Brooks, Good News about Poverty, The New York Times, November 27, 2004, reprinted page 435 in Mankiw, 2007.

[7] Ghahramani, Fundamentals of Probability, second edition, Prentice-Hall, 2000.

[8] Herman Daly, Beyond Growth, Beacon Press, 1996.

[9] Stephen I. Schwartz, Atomic Audit The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940, Brookings Institution Press 1998.

Blue Ridge Leader News – January 16, 2011

January 17, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Tim Jon with BRLN Comments Off on Blue Ridge Leader News – January 16, 2011
tim jon

Exchanging Fire

A young man from Manassas has some explaining to do- that is, if he recovers from the gunshot wound sustained in a shoot-out that killed a Leesburg man. Thursday’s incident took the life of 29 year old William Henry Welch III, of Bride Crest Square. … Continue Reading

A Letter of Thanks

January 14, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Dear Editor, Opinion Comments Off on A Letter of Thanks

The final tally is now in and ten local nonprofits are the beneficiaries of the $15,000 raised through the Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair during the 2010 Holiday season. The Fair was coordinated by Loudoun Interfaith Bridges and Loudoun Cares with two goals in mind: provide our community with truly meaningful gift giving opportunities while raising much needed resources for local nonprofits.

Both of our goals were accomplished thanks to generous sponsors, corporations, individuals and faith communities. Three entities, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Inova Loudoun Hospital and the Loudoun County CEO Cabinet stepped up at levels that insured the success of the Fair. Other key sponsors and supporters included: Blue Ridge Title and Escrow, Inc., Bob Miller of Southern Trust Mortgage, Burnett and Williams Personal Injury Attorneys, Dr. Gordon Culp, Optometrist, Mel Pine’s Allstate Insurance Agency, Sperry Van Ness/Vaaler Real Estate and local artist, Elaine Nunnally.

The beauty of the Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair is that it meets the needs of the growing number of gift givers looking for alternatives to the holiday shopping frenzy while supporting local nonprofits that strengthen our community through health care, literacy, homeless services, youth volunteerism, mental health advocacy and much much more.

Thanks again to all who made the 2010 Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair a community giving success. Look for us again in 2011. We expect to be back with new ideas and even more giving opportunities.

Steve Wolfson, The Arc of Loudoun
Kristi Stilen-Lare, Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center
Laura Dove, Friends of Homeless Animals
Stephanie Foran, Friends of Loudoun Mental Health
Yvette Castro-Green, La Voz of Loudoun
Andy Johnston, Loudoun Cares
Debra Dever, Loudoun Community Health Center
Candace Kroehl, Loudoun Literacy Council
Tracey Parent, Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers
Helen Richardson, Volunteers of America – Chesapeake

Update: Crooked Run Condemnation Hearing Scheduled for Jan. 11

January 12, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader News Comments Off on Update: Crooked Run Condemnation Hearing Scheduled for Jan. 11

*UPDATE: At last night’s Purcellville Town Council Meeting January 11, 2011, a public hearing was held regarding Condemnation-Quick Take of the Crooked Run Orchard property. Over 50 Town and County residents attended, and more than 20 people spoke at the hearing. Only two speakers were in favor of the agenda item. In a 7-0 vote, the Purcellville Town Council voted to Condemn via quick take condemnation powers over seven acres of Crooked Run Orchard for the Southern Collector Road. (the parcel is 16 acres)

Town Council members kept repeating that this was the “original” alignment. It is not, it is an entirely new alignment. The road has been moved entirely onto the Brown property, locating the road less than 75 feet from their home and making the annexation of the O’Toole property unnecessary. In preparation to seek State and Federal funding the Town has submitted documents for 4 lanes and 40 mph. The original alignment only required 3.08 acres, the new alignment will take almost half the 16 acres and destroy the main barn and farm road to the back 40 acres.

… Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Trusting Science

14 Nov 2015


“The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.” – Rush Limbaugh [1] I previously reported [2] on …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Some Thoughts on Veterans Day

13 Nov 2015


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and it is also a time to reflect and remember with gratitude. America is a free and democratic nation today, …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Phil Bolen Memorial Park

4 Nov 2015


I never knew Phil Bolen as the Loudoun County Government Administrator; I never even got to know him as Director of Parks and Recreation, and I certainly never knew Phil Bolen the teacher and coach at Loudoun Valley High School. …


Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: Willisville

30 Sep 2015


You may never feel the urge to travel to this little, unincorporated community; it’s not exactly a conduit for commuter traffic, and there aren’t really any places to shop, or gas up, or procure much of anything else from a …

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Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

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

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Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015


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

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

Choosing To Live in the Present

4 Nov 2015


By Samuel Moore-Sobel I love a good story. I love telling stories and hearing other people’s stories. Our experiences bring meaning to our lives, and help shape us into the people we are today. Yet inherent in storytelling is the …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts

4 Nov 2015


A common estate planning device is the trust. A trust is simply an agreement between two people: the person who establishes the trust, who may be called the Settlor, the Grantor or the Trustor, and the person or institution who …

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Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015


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

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015


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

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Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015


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

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November 2015

Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson


Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Notaviva Vineyards Haunted Vineyard Tours


Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Notaviva Vineyards Haunted Vineyard Tours

Red, White, & Boo!

Mrs. Lucketts’ Haunted Garden & Playground


Illuminate: an exhibit by fiber artist Susan Trask and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Notaviva Vineyards Haunted Vineyard Tours

Red, White, & Boo!

Steve Potter Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Elementary Drama Camp

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Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists – painter Karen Hutchison and glass artists David and Dale Barnes


Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


Kipyn Martin Live at North Gate VIneyard

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The Essential Elvis Tribute Show


Christmas Bazaar

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The Capitol Steps


3rd Annual Bluemont (Juried) Holiday Craft Show

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Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery


Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery


Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery


Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery


Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery

Eighth Annual Lovettsville Christkindlmarkt

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


Good Cheer – an exhibit by the artists of Arts in the Village Gallery

Eighth Annual Lovettsville Christkindlmarkt

Christmas Concert

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View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015


Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

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Good Government Reinforces the Family – Another Perspective

4 Oct 2015


By Malcolm Baldwin Who can disagree with the title to Dave LaRock’s September article in the Blue Ridge Journal – “Good Government Reinforces the Family”? But sadly he largely misunderstands what government has done and ought to do for such reinforcement. Many of his prescriptions would harm families while others would forestall any improvement in family conditions. His conclusions become …



Mosby Heritage Area Association Recognizes Three Heritage Heroes

28 Nov 2015


The Mosby Heritage Area Association, the Northern Virginia Piedmont preservation and education organization, has selected three individuals to receive the organization’s annual Heritage Hero Award. The Heritage Hero award is given to individuals or groups in the Mosby Heritage Area who have demonstrated stewardship responsibility over many years. The awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, December 8, at 5:30 …

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Breakfast with Santa

28 Nov 2015


Bring the kids and enjoy breakfast with Santa on Saturday, December 12 from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the Between the Hills Community Center at 11762 Harpers Ferry Rd, Purcellville (Neersville). A delicious menu of eggs, sausage, home fries, sausage gravy and biscuits, pancakes,a special french toast dish, coffee cake, fruit, and more. Free will offering. Call 540-668-6504 for more …

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2015 Loudoun 10K Trail Race Raises over $30,000 to Support Boulder Crest Retreat and Our Nation’s Veterans

16 Nov 2015


“I continued to be humbled by our community and all they do to make Boulder Crest Retreat a success. Jim Schatz and his team at Loudoun Road Runners are amazing. This trail run is in alignment with the rural nature of Boulder Crest Retreat and we look forward to the event every year. My personal appreciation goes out to all …

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Wild Loudoun

Wild Loudoun: of Chipmunks and Chestnuts

4 Nov 2015


Chipmunks are small, beautifully elegant little creatures, with large glossy eyes, a sleek brown body, a short, pointy head, dainty white stripes above and below the eye, and a series of black land white lines down their sturdy little backs. They have a very sweet posture – sitting upright and holding food with their two perfectly formed front feet, while …

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Around Virginia

Comstock Speaks on Syrian Refugees


Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) released the following statement on the current terrorist attacks in Paris: “After September 11, 2001, we tragically learned that al Qaeda was at war with us, but we weren’t at war with them. Again, with the recent murderous terrorist attacks in Paris, we have learned that …

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Governor McAuliffe Announces Tourism Revenues Topped $22.4 billion in 2014


Statewide data shows increase of 4.1 percent compared to 2013 Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia’s tourism revenues topped $22.4 billion in 2014, a 4.1 percent increase over 2013. In 2014, tourism in Virginia supported 216,949 jobs, an increase of nearly 700 jobs to the previously reported forecast estimate of …

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Good Government Reinforces the Family


By Delegate Dave LaRock Working as the elected Delegate for the 33rd House District has renewed my understanding of the value of a strong family. After decades of raising my family of mom, dad, and seven children and building my family’s business, which provided countless opportunities for mom, dad and …

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Middleburg Wins State Championship

28 Nov 2015

Middleburg Academy volleyball

Middleburg Academy’s Girls’ Volleyball team won the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division 2 state championship at November 11th’s finals. The 3-0 victory over Peninsula Catholic (#2) capped a season for the Dragons who finished with an impressive 30-2 record. Key wins in their season were home and away victories …

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Funding Sought for Scholarship for Loudon Students Participating in Youth Sports

4 Nov 2015


The Don Rose, Sr. Youth Scholarship Fund is seeking financial support to provide scholarships at college, technical or trade school. Applicants from public, private, and home schools are eligible to receive the scholarship, provided they participated in youth sports within Loudoun County. The fund aims to award two $500 scholarships …

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This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015


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

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Mary Rose Lunde

Behind Closed Doors

4 Nov 2015

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde It’s sad to say that the norm now is to wonder about the next school shooting. For a student it is the most terrifying thing, the next shooter could come at any moment, and any day could be the day that you die. It could be …

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Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015


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

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Thank You for Another Successful Halloween Block Party

4 Nov 2015


The 5th annual Purcellville Halloween Block Party was the best attended to date with an estimated 6,000 descending on 21st street in Old Town this past Friday evening. Costume …

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Ethics in Campaigning and Voting

1 Nov 2015


My Dad used to say it’s what you do when nobody is watching that counts. Over 80 percent of my “zoning permitted” and “land owner …

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$17 Dollar Tolls-Ouch!

27 Oct 2015


Recently Gov. McAuliffe proposed $17 round trip tolls on I-66 inside the beltway with Chuck Hedges the Democrat nominee for the HOD 33rd district being …

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