Matthew Schwartz Named to Oglethorpe University Fall Dean’s List

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader People Be the first to comment

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 Be the first to comment

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.

Yard Sale – Part 2

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“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.

[1] http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-01-17/decent-poverty-report-poverty-and-misery

[2] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002 http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/follow-the-money/2

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

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/17/AR2011011702842.html

[5] http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_589.pdf

[6] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Louis_Brandeis

[7] http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/01/20-2

The Unloved

January 23, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Dear Editor, Opinion Be the first to comment

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 Be the first to comment
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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 Be the first to comment

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 Be the first to comment

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 www.loudoun.gov/redistricting. 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 Be the first to comment

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 Be the first to comment

“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.

[2] http://brleader.com/?p=2550

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

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilfredo_Pareto

[5] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002 http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/follow-the-money/2

[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 Be the first to comment
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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 Be the first to comment

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.

Sincerely,
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 Be the first to comment

*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

Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors

25 Jul 2014

For the Public Input Session on September 3, 2014 Excerpts from the following article will be presented to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on September 3, 2014 at the public input session. “The vital signs reflect “the largest changes …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Concern Over E-cigarettes

3 Jul 2014

Michael_Pic

– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, I was very upset to find an e-cigarette in my son’s room the other day. At first I didn’t even know what it was but then figured it out. My son is 17, …

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Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Just Like Nothing (Else) On Earth: Blue Ridge Mountain Road

3 Jul 2014

timjon

It wasn’t until I saw it all under heavy fog that this place really came to speak to me; sure, I’d seen it in rain, snow, sleet and just about every other condition you could name, but before that blanket …

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Mountville Road

3 Jun 2014

timjon

Glancing at a map, it really doesn’t look like much to the casual observer – one might think: “Hmm, just a little connector road in the southwestern portion of a place called Loudoun County” – from Snickersville Turnpike in the …

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Virginia Gardening

Let’s Start Thinking About Planning A Fall Garden

3 Jul 2014

fallgarden

– By Donna Williamson There is so much information out there about gardening and planting – it makes my head spin. Some good information, some bad information that just gets repeated over and over – so here is some info …

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Sushi's Corner

When Twinkle Lights Were Discovered!

3 Jul 2014

sushi

“Tails” From The Barnyard – By Sushi By now if you have been reading my “ Sushi, Tails from the Barn Yard” you have heard about the infamous story tree smack dab center in front of the large white farm …

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Samuel Moore-Sobel

What Should I Do With The Rest Of My Life?

3 Jul 2014

- By Samuel Moore-Sobel Like many other students more than halfway through college, I find myself contemplating what I am going to do with the rest of my life. Lately I have been considering attending law school. Being a lawyer …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning For Life

3 Jul 2014

Smith0035

– by Amy and Dan Smith I’m pleased to join Amy in this column. There are topics, which I know from my years of experience in the estate planning field are of interest to folks and which can be rather …

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Student News

Loudoun Student Awarded Environmental Scholarship

6 Jul 2014

Allison_Arpajian

American Disposal Services is proud to announce Allison Arpajian, the Loudoun County recipient of their Annual American Disposal Services Inc. Scholarship. Applications were distributed to all public high schools in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. One winner was chosen from each …

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Local Residents Graduate from the College of William & Mary

3 Jul 2014

The following residents recently graduated from the College of William & Mary: Alexander Graeme Thomson, from Hamilton (20158), with a BS degree. Gabrielle Alana Graves, from Middleburg (20117), with a BA degree. Kathleen Warren Hale, from Middleburg (20117), with a …

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Kevin Sherman Graduated from Ithaca College

3 Jul 2014

Kevin Sherman, a native of Middleburg, Va., graduated from Ithaca College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance with a degree in Sport Studies. The degree was awarded in May 2014.

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Events

July 2014
M T W T F S S
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Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

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June 30, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

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Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

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July 1, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

2

Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

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July 2, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

VAL's Pals Kid's Club

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July 2, 2014N/A

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA
314-602-1325

FREE activity every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Held in Community Room at 1601 Village Market Blvd. #100, next to Plow & Hearth and across from Cobb Theatres, unless noted. 

  • July 2  – Paul Hadfield aka “The Funny Guy” Clown Theater program

3

Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

Close

July 3, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

4

Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

Close

July 4, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

5

Village at Leesburg VAL’s Pals

Close

July 5, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1602 Village Market Blvd
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Join us for this week’s FREE kids’ club program featuring a FREE movie at Cobb Theatres. Join us for “Turbo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for more information.

 

Saturday Summer Music Series

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July 5, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd., SE, Suite 215, Leesburg, VA 20175
Leesburg, 20175
USA
314-602-1325

Enjoy the sounds of summer every Saturday night through August 16! 5 – 8 p.m. in Fountain Court FREE. Bring your own chair or check out our new patio-style furniture in fountain court. Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule.  Check facebook/villageatleesburg.com

  • July 5thTed Garber

Conversations in History Series: The Nature of Sacrifice

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July 5, 2014

Mt Zion Church
40309 John Mosby Hwy
Aldie, 20105

Carol Bundy, author and historian, will speak on William Hathaway Forbes and the California Battalion's confrontation of Colonel John S. Mosby, 1864. Co-hosted by Mosby Heritage Area Association and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

6

July Sunday Brunch at Breaux Vineyards

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July 6, 2014

Breaux Vineyards
36888 Breaux Vineyards Lane
Purcellville, 20132
United States

End your Holiday weekend with a delicious Sunday Brunch! Take a break from the sunshine and heat to enjoy a 3-course meal paired with delicious Breaux Vineyard wines while overlooking the sweeping views! Chef Author from Grandale Farms has prepared a delicious farm to table meal for you to enjoy.

Tickets are $60 per person / $55 Cellar Club members

Cavaliers, Courage & Coffee Program

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July 6, 2014

Mt Zion Church
40309 John Mosby Hwy
Aldie, 20105

As part of the sesquicentennial events for the Battle of Mt Zion Church, the Gray Ghost Interpretive Group will offer a lantern lit dramatic evening. 540-687-5578.

7 8 9

VAL's Pals Kid's Club

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July 9, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA
314-602-1325

FREE activity every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Held in Community Room at 1601 Village Market Blvd. #100, next to Plow & Hearth and across from Cobb Theatres, unless noted. 

  • June 9 –  Zumba for kids

VAL Movies Under the Stars

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July 9, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175

FREE VAL Lawn Chair or Picnic Blanket for the first 50 families each week! Check out your film favorites at our NEW summer outdoor movie series. Grab refreshments from your favorite VAL restaurant, bring your own lawn chair and have fun! Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule. For inclement weather updates, visit Facebook.com/VillageAtLeesburg. One giveaway per family, while quantities last. July 9 – The Goonies  PG  111 mins

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9th Annual Key West Festival

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July 12, 2014

Breaux Vineyards
36888 Breaux Vineyards
Purcellville, 20132
USA

Come enjoy our "Vineyard in Paradise" at the 9th annual Key West Fest!  Wine tastings, food vendors,  live music, kids' activities and more!

Local crafters and vendors will also be on-site selling their wares and have great items you could win!  We will draw prizes under the band tent during the band breaks!

Please remember, no dogs or picnics are permitted at our festivals! 

Ticket sales coming soon!

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Increase Your Reach: Social Media Advertising for Business

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July 17, 2014

Why use social media advertising? What should your goals be? Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn—what’s best for your business? How can you analyze results to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth?

Get answers. Maximize the power of your SM advertising.

Presenter:  Kona Gallagher,  Marketing Program Coordinator for Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development.

REGISTER at Loudoun SBDC.eventbrite.com

Fee:  $25 registration online; $30 at door
Those who pay at the door are not guaranteed seating or handouts.

18 19

Summer Saturdays

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July 19, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd SE
Leesburg, 20175
USA
5712912288

Village at Leesburg presents a music concert series. Come listen to various artists on Saturday July 19th, Saturday August 2nd, Saturday August 9th, Saturday August 16th, Saturday August 30th, Sunday August 31st, and Monday September 1st at Village at Leesburg in Fountain Court. There will be performances by Paul Pfau & Connor Pledger (R&B former The Voice contestants), Julian Roso (Acoustic Pop), Todd Wright Band (Alternative Pop Covers), Poorhouse Rd (Americana Blues), Music Bone (Electric Rock/Jazz), Gina de Simone & The Moaners (Swing/Dance), AJ Sith & The Apollo (Indie Rock) on alternating nights. For the full music schedule please visit villageatleesburg.com

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JUL Loudoun Federal Contractors Group Networking Event

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July 22, 2014

Patrick McMahon, Attorney - McMahon, Welch and Learned, PLLC, will present briefly on “Negotiating Teaming & Subcontracting Agreements from a Small Business Subcontractor Perspective.”

 

SPONSOR:   TD Bank, N.A.

 

Let’s continue building federal contracting relationships in Loudoun. Whether you’re a contracting neophyte or veteran, this event can help you move forward on your contracting goals.

The group’s founder, Loudoun SBDC, is a resource partner with the SBA. It has been helping to launch/grow government contracting businesses for over 10 years. It has strong partners within the economic development community and is well-positioned to assist you!

 

FREE but REGISTER at LoudounSBDC.eventbrite.com.

23

VAL Movies Under the Stars

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July 23, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA

FREE VAL Lawn Chair or Picnic Blanket for the first 50 families each week! Check out your film favorites at our NEW summer outdoor movie series. Grab refreshments from your favorite VAL restaurant, bring your own lawn chair and have fun! Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule. For inclement weather updates, visit Facebook.com/VillageAtLeesburg. One giveaway per family, while quantities last. July 23 – Despicable Me PG  119 mins

Movies Under The Stars

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July 23, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd SE
Leesburg, 20175
USA
5712912288

Come enjoy free movie screenings at Village at Leesburg. July 23rd Despicable Me (Rated PG) will be shown. August 6th will be the winning fan favorite vote. Choices are: Superman (original-Rated PG), Willy Wonka (Rated G), Surf's Up (Rated PG), and Smurfs (Rated PG). Vote on Facebook!August 20th Frozen (Rated PG) will be shown. Free event chair or picnic blanket will be given to the first 50 families!

24

VAL Movies Under the Stars

Close

July 24, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA

FREE VAL Lawn Chair or Picnic Blanket for the first 50 families each week! Check out your film favorites at our NEW summer outdoor movie series. Grab refreshments from your favorite VAL restaurant, bring your own lawn chair and have fun! Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule. For inclement weather updates, visit Facebook.com/VillageAtLeesburg. One giveaway per family, while quantities last. July 23 – Despicable Me PG  119 mins

25

VAL Movies Under the Stars

Close

July 25, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA

FREE VAL Lawn Chair or Picnic Blanket for the first 50 families each week! Check out your film favorites at our NEW summer outdoor movie series. Grab refreshments from your favorite VAL restaurant, bring your own lawn chair and have fun! Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule. For inclement weather updates, visit Facebook.com/VillageAtLeesburg. One giveaway per family, while quantities last. July 23 – Despicable Me PG  119 mins

July Fourth Friday at Breaux Vineyards

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July 25, 2014

Breaux Vineyards
36888 Breaux Vineyards Lane
Purcellville, 20132
USA

July Fourth Friday! July 25; 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Each month our "Fourth Fridays" event boasts a fabulous evening of wine + entertainment worth sharing with family and friends.  This month's fourth Friday falls on July 25th.  We will have live music, wine to taste and food to eat.  Don't miss out on this fun summer evening - come soak in the views, the music and of course some terrific vino!

No reservation needed - We'll see you Friday the 25th!

26

Village at Leesburg 5th Annual Summer Block Party

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July 26, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA
314-602-1325

Saturday, July 26

3 – 8 p.m.  FREE

Join us for this FREE family event with live bands, entertainers, inflatables, food, sidewalk sales and fun activities throughout the entire center.  Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule. 

 

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28

Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers Summer Camps

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July 28, 2014

38327 Charles Town Pike
Waterford, 20197
540.454.8639

The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers are offering two, fun summer camps!  If you've never clogged before, join us July 28 - Aug 1 for our Novice Camp.  Hours are 9:00am - 12:00pm.  If you are an experienced clogger, join us Aug 4 - Aug 8 from 9:00am - 12:00pm for our Experienced Camp.  Ages 8 through adult.  $50 per camp.

29

Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers Summer Camps

Close

July 29, 2014

38327 Charles Town Pike
Waterford, 20197
540.454.8639

The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers are offering two, fun summer camps!  If you've never clogged before, join us July 28 - Aug 1 for our Novice Camp.  Hours are 9:00am - 12:00pm.  If you are an experienced clogger, join us Aug 4 - Aug 8 from 9:00am - 12:00pm for our Experienced Camp.  Ages 8 through adult.  $50 per camp.

30

Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers Summer Camps

Close

July 30, 2014

38327 Charles Town Pike
Waterford, 20197
540.454.8639

The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers are offering two, fun summer camps!  If you've never clogged before, join us July 28 - Aug 1 for our Novice Camp.  Hours are 9:00am - 12:00pm.  If you are an experienced clogger, join us Aug 4 - Aug 8 from 9:00am - 12:00pm for our Experienced Camp.  Ages 8 through adult.  $50 per camp.

31

Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers Summer Camps

Close

July 31, 2014

38327 Charles Town Pike
Waterford, 20197
540.454.8639

The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers are offering two, fun summer camps!  If you've never clogged before, join us July 28 - Aug 1 for our Novice Camp.  Hours are 9:00am - 12:00pm.  If you are an experienced clogger, join us Aug 4 - Aug 8 from 9:00am - 12:00pm for our Experienced Camp.  Ages 8 through adult.  $50 per camp.

1

Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers Summer Camps

Close

August 1, 2014

38327 Charles Town Pike
Waterford, 20197
540.454.8639

The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers are offering two, fun summer camps!  If you've never clogged before, join us July 28 - Aug 1 for our Novice Camp.  Hours are 9:00am - 12:00pm.  If you are an experienced clogger, join us Aug 4 - Aug 8 from 9:00am - 12:00pm for our Experienced Camp.  Ages 8 through adult.  $50 per camp.

2

Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Child Safety Day

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August 2, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd.
Leesburg, 20175
USA

Saturday, August 2 from 12pm-4pm  FREE

Get up close to awesome rescue squad vehicles and cool interactive displays! Enjoy music, inflatables,  prizes and giveaways and more fun. Go to VillageAtLeesburg.com for full schedule.

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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August 2, 2014

Notaviva Vineyards
13274 Sagle Rd
Purcellville, 20132
540-668-6756

Notaviva Vineyards presents their monthly Bluegrass Jam a FREE event held the first Saturday of every month!

An event for all ages featuring Ashby Run. Open to players of every skill level

3pm-6pm Saturday 7/5

Wine available by the glass and by the bottle, lite snacks available. Must be 21 to drink alcohol.

Summer Saturdays

Close

August 2, 2014

Village at Leesburg
1602 Village Market Blvd SE
Leesburg, 20175
USA
5712912288

Village at Leesburg presents a music concert series. Come listen to various artists on Saturday July 19th, Saturday August 2nd, Saturday August 9th, Saturday August 16th, Saturday August 30th, Sunday August 31st, and Monday September 1st at Village at Leesburg in Fountain Court. There will be performances by Paul Pfau & Connor Pledger (R&B former The Voice contestants), Julian Roso (Acoustic Pop), Todd Wright Band (Alternative Pop Covers), Poorhouse Rd (Americana Blues), Music Bone (Electric Rock/Jazz), Gina de Simone & The Moaners (Swing/Dance), AJ Sith & The Apollo (Indie Rock) on alternating nights. For the full music schedule please visit villageatleesburg.com

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Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

There’s a New Gang in Town – And Isn’t It Time?

3 Jun 2014

blueridge2

For many, the recent town-wide elections in Purcellville present all of western Loudoun with a significant opportunity to launch a more citizen-focused future. On July 1 there will be a new mayor and a decidedly different balance of power on the Purcellville Town Council, as four new members with fresh …

(4 comments)

Editorial

War Madness

25 Jul 2014

dying gaul

The Dying Gaul By John P. Flannery In a world that prefers to war, can’t get enough of it, innocents are killed, and those senseless incidents in turn provoke more war. It happened in the Ukraine and the testosterone is running high. Ukraine calls to the West to put up or shut up with military force, not just economic sanctions. …

(Be the first to comment)

Bed and Breakfasts – Boon or Threat to the Rural Economy?

3 Jun 2014

malcolm_pamela_011

By Malcolm and Pamela Baldwin Breaking news, in case you missed it: the Board of Supervisors has created new rules for bed-and-breakfast establishments in Loudoun, among them an increase in the number and frequency of events – such as weddings – B&Bs are allowed to host on their properties. At the same time, the board also tightened fire safety, building …

(2 comments)

Lifestyle

Feed Loudoun – Fresh Food Drive

27 Jul 2014

Photo attached courtesy Julia Brizendine: What is gleaning? It is the harvesting of food for the needy. This tradition goes back to ancient times when landholders allowed folks in need to harvest left-over crops. In eighteenth century England, the sexton would often ring a church bell at eight o'clock in the morning and again at seven in the evening to alert needy families when they were invited to collect crops. As a volunteer, gleaning is a fun, family activity that usually lasts no more than about 2 hours on a beautiful day. It is also a good activity for groups who are looking for community outreach projects.

Special report by Mark Gunderman Photo courtesy Julia Brizendine: What is gleaning? It is the harvesting of food for the needy. This tradition goes back to ancient times when landholders allowed folks in need to harvest left-over crops. In eighteenth century England, the sexton would often ring a church bell at eight o’clock in the morning and again at seven …

(Be the first to comment)

Susan Greenbaum to Perform in Middleburg

17 Jul 2014

Susan_Greenbaum-live

The Bluemont Concert Series is proud to present Susan Greenbaum on Saturday, July 26 for the last of our four Saturday evening concerts in Middleburg. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. The Middleburg concerts are now held at the Middleburg Community Center baseball field, located at 300 West Washington Street. Admission is $5 per person, $4 for Bluemont Friends and …

(Be the first to comment)

Woodgrove High School Debate Camp

15 Jul 2014

Ms. Purvis’s WHS Debate Team is conducting a debate camp this summer from August 4 through August 8. It will be held each day from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Woodgrove High School and is open to students who will be attending Woodgrove HS or Loudoun Valley HS. The purpose of the camp is to introduce aspiringdebaters to the art …

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Wild Loudoun

Fireflies – Green Sequins Of The Night

3 Jul 2014

fireflies jar

I don’t usually start my Wild Loudoun column by sharing information about the scientific classification into which a given plant, animal or insect falls. But, in the case of the firefly, it’s too fun not too … Fireflies are part of an insect family known as Lampyridae … as in “lamp.” Of course they are, you say. Firefly larva – …

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Around Virginia

VDOE Names Chief Academic Officer

Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples today announced that John William “Billy” Haun of Charlottesville will become the Virginia Department of Education’s chief academic officer, taking the position of assistant superintendent of instruction on September 1. “I am delighted that Billy is bringing his knowledge, leadership and innovative ideas …

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LaRock Appointed to Joint Commission on Technology and Science

Dave_larock

Speaker of the House William Howell has appointed Delegate Dave LaRock as a member of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), effective immediately and lasting for the duration of his term in the House of Delegates. The Commission meets several times throughout the year to “Study all aspects …

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Virginia Earns Top Special Education Rating from U.S. Department of Education

Virginia is one of only 18 states and territories earning a “meets requirements” designation under the US Department of Education’s (USED) new results-driven accountability model for rating state compliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Previously in rating states, USED focused on procedural requirements such as timelines …

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Sports

Ida Lee NFL Flag Football League Registration Ends July 28

20 Jul 2014

NFL_Flag_Football_at_IdaLee

Registration for the Fall 2014 NFL Flag Football league is currently ongoing for boys and girls, ages six to 14, and spots are filling fast. To secure a spot in the league, participants must register by Monday, July 28, 2014. The Ida Lee NFL Flag Football League is the premier …

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Lady Vikings Claim District Lacrosse Title

3 Jun 2014

ladyvikings

By Mac Shuford The Loudoun Valley girls lacrosse team beat Woodgrove 10-7 on May 22 for the district championship. It was a hard fought victory and a long time coming as Valley had never beaten Woodgrove until this game, having narrowly lost last year’s district and regional Titles in the …

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Letters

Good News – Virginia Budget Passed

3 Jul 2014

speak

I hope folks have heard the good news that Virginia has passed a two-year budget, and passed it without allowing our new governor to force …

(2 comments)

T-Mac Does an O’Bama

24 Jun 2014

blueridge2

Everyone by now has heard that the Virginia Legislature was able to pass a budget without medicaid expansion. This has infuriated the Governor who has …

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De-couple Medicaid Expansion from the Commonwealth’s Budget

11 Jun 2014

blueridge2

At a September 25, 2103, debate sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, then Mr. McAuliffe declared, “No budget will be shut down in Virginia …

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